The past two weeks have been a blur and it feels like I’ve been having a bad dream. As badly as I wish I just got out of bed, that’s simply not true.
The longest two weeks of my life have indeed been a reality after my mom lost her battle to COVID-19 at 3:20 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 5, at St. Joseph’s East in Lexington. Mom spent at least five weeks trying to fend off the virus and put up a courageous fight until the very end.
That was Mom’s character and it was no surprise she kept battling and fighting. She even tried to pull out the ventilator hose that assisted with her breathing at one point while sedated.
Before our family was hit with the virus, I knew COVID was cruel, but you don’t know how vicious it can be until someone you love, the one who brought you into this world, is attacked to the point of no return.
One minute, she was told she had beat it during a brief stay at St. Joseph’s Berea, and three days later she couldn't breathe and was transported to St. Joseph’s East in Lexington. She was on a CPAP machine for about a week before doctors opted to put her on a ventilator — the last resort — a week later. Mom called us many times crying and fearing that last resort.
We were told she received a five-day treatment of Remdesivir not once, but twice, in Berea and Lexington and also the convalescent plasma treatment. Neither option prevented what the virus did to her lungs and eventually the rest of her body.
After the first week on the ventilator, she was close to coming off the machine. I remember the optimism in the nurse’s voice that week. However, Mom started going downhill after a lung collapse the following morning that was termed as a “minor setback.” It ended up being a bigger ordeal than we could have ever imagined.
Because of Mom’s status as a COVID-19 patient, we were not allowed to visit her in her room until the final hour which, to me, was totally meaningless, because we could not give her the support she had needed early in the fight. We had to put on the gloves, gowns and other attire before making an entrance. My visit was long enough to tell Mom goodbye and that I loved her and would see her on the other side.
Not being able to see your own mom in her time of need is cruel, and I would not wish that upon anyone. It’s the harshest and most inhuman thing ever, and our family’s wish is that others won’t have to endure the hardships that we experienced during the past six weeks.
The doctors and nurses assured us — mostly by phone — they were doing everything they could to help Mom get through this “crap.” It wasn’t until six days before her death that we received face-to-face consultation with doctors and the experts regarding her care and decisions that needed to be made in the immediate future.
That's wrong and it needs to be changed. It’s like we lost Mom the minute she stepped into the hospital and that is just not right, period.
I would advise mandates and hospital guidelines to be updated, especially for patients like my mom who were in critical condition and needed love and support, from those she loved and knew, instead of strangers taking care of her during her most crucial time.
It’s hard enough losing a loved one, especially your own mom, but doing so during a pandemic made it 10 times harder and nearly unbearable. We can and should do better in the immediate future.
KEITH TAYLOR is the sports editor for Kentucky Today.