Guest column: Living with COVID-19, a tale of two families

Nick Falco
Nick Falco

It was the safest of times, it was the most unsafe of times, it was the age of science, it was the age of politics, it was the epoch of wisdom, it was the epoch of ignorance, it was the season of prevention, it was the season of disobedience, it was the spring of panacea, it was the winter of contagion, we had a flattened curve before us, we had a second wave before us, we were all going direct to a vaccine, we were all going direct the other way…

I wear a mask. I socially distance. I limit trips to the store. I clean frequently. All of these are things I can control. Unfortunately, I cannot control ignorance. I do all of these things for a few reasons:

• Wearing a mask and social distancing protects my fellow humans when I am out.

• I have a wife who is immunocompromised.

• I have elderly parents.

• I have children and granddaughters.

• Science says it is the right thing to do.

When I mention ignorance, I do not intend it as an insult to others. Ignorance simply means a lack of knowledge or information. When I mention ignorance, I mean:

• COVID-19 is real. Science is real.

• You can catch this disease, and it can be deadly.

• Wearing a mask and social distancing is NOT political. It is not a way for the government to control us. These precautions are evidence-based, historically proven, and meant to slow the spread of the disease.

• Wearing a mask is NOT about your rights and freedoms. Your rights are no more or less important that everyone else’s rights. Wearing a mask is about basic courtesy to your fellow humans.

• While a mask is not a perfect solution, if it is even 1% effective, isn’t that worth it?

Most people fight things that scare them and shout about their “rights” as a way to hide that fear. You can afford that luxury because you likely do not know someone who has COVID-19. Now you do.

I have COVID-19. My wife has it. My son has it. My daughter now has it at her home, along with my twin granddaughters. That’s right, when you get it, you are very likely to unknowingly spread it to your family.

While you are feeling confident that you can fight it off and it will not be serious, you are also making a decision for your loved ones, who may not be in as good of health. I wear a mask for the benefit of others, yet, someone out there made a decision to ignore the safety protocols and now my family is infected.

Research now tells us that some people experience no symptoms, others experience mild to moderate symptoms, and some experience life-threatening symptoms.

My family has experienced all three. My teenage son had absolutely no symptoms. He is in peak physical condition – which certainly helped – or, perhaps, he was just fortunate. My granddaughters are 9-years old. Thankfully, their symptoms were mild and they only experienced brief fever.

My daughter was only mildly worse, experiencing fever, headache and fatigue. I, myself, got hit with fever, cough, headache and fatigue – as well as a loss of smell and taste that has yet to return.

My wife, sadly, was not nearly as fortunate. Having a compromised immune system means that she is at risk for serious illness. COVID-19 started by giving her a deep cough and fever. When those symptoms could not be managed, we had to take her to the emergency room.

Imagine dropping your spouse off at the ER and knowing that you cannot go in with her. Imagine dropping her off and not knowing how long she will be there – alone. Now imagine dropping off your loved one and not knowing if they will ever walk out again.

As it turned out, COVID-19 caused double pneumonia and other lung damage. Unable to breathe effectively without high-flow oxygen, she was placed in a room on a floor with others who were battling this deadly disease. Fortunately, the floor was filled with doctors and nurses who risked their own lives to do everything in their power to help.

The following days were filled with everything that you hear on the news. She was treated with Remdesivir, steroids, convalescent plasma, blood thinners, antibiotics, high-flow oxygen, and a host of other meds to help her fight. There was a time when her oxygen levels dropped into the 70s. Needless to say, she was filled with fear and anxiety.

Thankfully, she is a fighter and had doctors with a good plan. Slowly, she started to improve. It has been two weeks in the hospital so far, and she is improving. She still has lung damage, and who knows what symptoms will plague her even when she comes home, but she is still one of the lucky ones. We all are.

This is a serious disease. It will find you.

How about we turn off the news, ignore our political affiliations and simply protect one another? Everyone counts or nobody counts. If you could save a life, wouldn’t you? If it was as easy as wearing a mask and socially distancing, shouldn’t everyone?

The world needs heroes, and we are blessed that we can ALL be one. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I hope that link is not you.  

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