Both her mother and stepfather have been hospitalized and diagnosed with Covid, but what she's been realizing is that it's not the Covid that is hurting them most. It's the isolation.
"The piece of the puzzle that's missing is the isolation. It's torture. It's the most harmful part of this," she says.
The symptoms her mother was suffering from are symptoms she had well before Covid. A lifelong smoker, she'd been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). "When her anxiety goes up," her daughter says, "she can't breathe."
Her mother's anxiety became very high recently, for good reason. Her husband, who is her caretaker, fell out of bed, and was sent to the hospital, she says, and diagnosed with "Covid pneumonia." Her mother, without the support of her husband, quickly became extremely anxious and short of breath. Though she initially was given a Covid test and sent home, repeat visits to the hospital resulted in a longer stay as well as a series of tortuous, contested interventions, including psychotic medications that the family did not want given—and isolation from loved ones.
As her mother's health took a nosedive, a doctor called and suggested the only way for family members to visit was if they agreed to hospice and palliative care (as opposed to continued treatment). This daughter was outraged. Instead of continuing the discussion, she and her sister just headed to the hospital to see their mother, and intervene. They were supposed to have been given heavy gowns and respirator masks, but in all the confusion, her sister somehow slipped through with just a flimsy non-medical face covering. They were in the room with the mother for 45 minutes and neither of them subsequently got sick. In the meantime, after the in-person visit, their mother's health improved dramatically. She was able to move out of isolation and into a regular hospital room and has now made it to rehab, where her daughter visits—and upon seeing her mother, discreetly removes her mask.
Her stepfather's story is troubling and complicated for her. As someone who's not immediate family, she had a harder time fending off what she considered unnecessary interventions that might prove deadly, but she did manage to make sure a few of what she considered the most dangerous procedures didn't happen—having holes cut in his stomach (for feeding) and throat (for breathing). She's happy to note that without having to survive those procedures, he began improving, bit by bit, breathing on his own and getting nutrition from a less invasive nasal feeding tube. She made sure he got his hearing aids, and, after being permitted an hour-and-a-half video chat with her mother, his health improved further. After three months in isolation in the hospital, he's now off the feeding tube and being discharged to rehab.
"They don't like talking to me at the hospital," she says. "I don't care. I'm advocating for a human life."
"Every five days you have a new doctor. It's so frustrating. You have to start your whole process over again. There's no bonding between doctor and patient. They just look at charts and go from there. It's a crime, and I think a lot of the elders in the hospital are dying of isolation. This is a crime against the elderly right now."