Covid-History Item Type Metadata
When did the impact of COVID-19 first occur to you? How did your reaction to COVID-19 change between then and the first case in your town?
March 22, 2020 was the last time I had a meaningful visit with my mother in the nursing home. It was also the last time my parents, married 67 years, were permitted to touch before my father living in the community, died from metastatic cancer. The separation, intended to keep my mother "safe" resulted in staff members infecting her with the virus. She recovered from COVID but has since lost considerable weight, and seriously declined in her dementia.
How is your life different now than it was before the pandemic?
During the initial lock down I continued working, coordinating drivers for our county's Meals on Wheels program. My husband lost his job due to COVID related downsizing. I had major spine surgery in May, and due to restrictions, was totally separated from family during the pre opening and recovery in the hospital. My father's cancer progressed, and he was taken into care by Hospice and a local hospice home, and died. I was able to be with him at the hospice house. My brothers and I told my mother of her husband's death through a window at the nursing home. She "participated" in the memorial service via Zoom. Not in the presence of her family and pastor, but grieving with staff members paid to be there.
How are you feeling? What are you doing to relieve stress?
Stressed! The continued separation from my mother in the nursing home is most difficult. Co.innovation from the staff is sparse. I must constantly ask to be given any information, and often don't know what to ask as I can't see her. I deal with the stress by walking every day. I keep daily notes of blessings. I use good sleep hygiene practices to sleep though it is not as restful as I would like.
What have you noticed has changed in your community since the outbreak? What has surprised you?
As the Volunteer Driver Coordinator for our Meals on Wheel program, it has been heartwarming to have numerous community members step up to take on driving routes. Initially, many long time, mostly elderly drivers stepped down due to COVID concerns, but other, younger retirees came forward. Perhaps they feel stir crazy and housebound, and other avenues for volunteering had been closed. Our proven is the happy recipient of many new, dedicated volunteers. Using new contact less delivery procedures, we have not missed a delivery.
Are you an essential employee? What do you do? What precautions are being taken at your workplace? What precautions are implementing at home?
I am an essential worker. Initially I worked from home 2 days a week to reduce staff numbers in the office. We do a daily temp screening which honestly seems worthless as the digital thermometer reads so low as to be meaningless. Coordinating drivers for meals on Wheels deliveries, we have implemented contactless delivery protocols while still attempting to make a social contact with the homebound individuals and provide a safety check.
Are you an employee who has been laid off or furloughed? Were you able to get unemployment? Were you able to retain your health insurance?
My husband was terminated due to COVID. He collects unemployment which has been helpful. As we are at retirement age, though we had planned to continue to work for several more years, we have now switched to Medicare and medigap insurance as his job provided our health insurance. The cost for COBRA would have been prohibitive. As it was, I had more than $5,000 in out of pocket expenses for my spine surgery in May. We had anticipated being able to pay that (our portion of the high deductible plan) but his job loss sent me begging to the hospital for a reduction in charges. We were grateful to have the bill drastically reduced to an affordable amount.
Are you working from home? What adjustments or challenges are you experiencing?
Only worked 2 days a week from home for a couple months. It was disruptive, moving the computer between home and office, and not having access to a printer or photo copier. I felt like I lost productivity due to working part time from home.
Do you have children at home? How’s it going?
If you’re a student, was school canceled? Were you able to complete your studies online? Do you think you’ll be back on campus in the fall?
Did you have to postpone any major life events? (e.g. Graduation, wedding, major birthday) What did you do instead?
We had a pathetic 67th wedding annibersary celebration for my parents at the window of my mother's nursing home. My father and I sat outside and it was all I could do not to cry. He had a boutonniere, she had a corsage. They each had a piece of wedding cake. This couple could not touch. Could not kiss. A few !I the later, he died of metastatic cancer. Our family told my mother via the window that her husband had died. No touch from family - the social worker patted her arm. It was heart wrenching! The next day, she "participated" in tne memorial service via Zoom. Again, not a loving touch from her family or pastor. Only people paid to be in her life to help her grieve. The service itself was limited to a dozen family members with no friends to support us in our grief. Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays - all celebrated without extended family to join us. We kept our circle VERY small, and she gathering, we STILL wear masks and avoid touching our loved ones. I am blessed to be living with my husband so have not felt the loneliness many have experienced.
Do you have animals? Did you adopt a pet? How have they impacted your day?
Did you or someone you know contract COVID-19? What was it like?
I received a call December 22 that the nursing home, which had kept my mother locked in,and family lo ked out, had infected my 86 year old mother with a love tally sadly virus. If I thought the separation before that was difficult, the two week period of her being abruptly moved to a newly created COVID unit in the nursing home was crushing. The faculty turned 4 of their 6 42 bed floor s into COVID units. More than 208 residents eventually contracted the disease - it brought in by family, but clearly by staff members who weren't as careful as I have been about behavior. At keast 57 residents died from COVID there. The nursing home failed miserably at communicating with me my mother's status. Only by my repeated telephone calls did I ever get an update. She used relatively mild symptoms but I made it very clear that if symptoms processed I would get her, and bring her home to die. I was not about to let her die alone locked inside a nursing home! I went so far as to rent a hospital bed, delivered Christmas Eve. She did recover and was returned to her regular floor. Two weeks later they did call me. She was not eating and had lost 20 pounds. That is a lot when you are a 4 ft 11 in tall old lady who only weighed 94 pounds to start with. Her condition continues to deteriorate. Her dementia is progressing and infact, they have now moved her to a dementia unit due to to her increasing agitation and aggressive behaviors. If only I could visit her daily! It is difficult to know if her dementia would have progressed to this point anyways, or of COVID is causing some of these issues. In any case, COVID has stolen a million moments from my mother and from our entire family.
If you lost someone during the pandemic, how did you celebrate their lives?
We held a very small, private memorial service for my father, who died of cancer. I would have valued the presence of many friends and acquaintances otherwise.
What do you wish you knew before the pandemic began?
I wish I knew how long it would stretch on. It may not have made much difference in my behaviors and perhaps it's best to NOT know what lies ahead. Could we bear it if we KNEW what we would face?
What would you want future generations to know about the 2020 pandemic? How would you recommend they prepare for it?
Value each other. Make the phone call. Write the note of encouragement. Make time to spend together. Value what matters. It isn't about stuff, but relationships. Keep your life simple so when things are stripped away you aren't bereft. My greatest learning this last year has been that my husband of 45 years and I love each other. That should be obvious but in the day to day we take things for granted. He has been my rock of support. We have enjoyed long walks together and time just spent talking in ways we did not before.
How do you think this pandemic will change how we behave going forward? What will the “new normal” look like?
I believe we will continue to wear masks, much as citizens in many Asian countries have done, to protect ourselves and each other from the transmission of disease. I fear a greater divide between those who believe and trust science and ignorant people who think everything is a conspiracy to violate their personal freedoms. It seems likely that future COVID vaccine requirements may add fuel to this fire.
Is there anything else you would like to add that hasn't already been asked above?
I wish our country's citizens understood and valued science more than they seem to. There was, and still is, such skepticism about the reality of the virus. There was anger that information and recommendations changed. Those folks must not have learned that this is the way of science!
Southern Adirondack Library System
Finger Lakes Library System
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“Kim,” Leaving Our Fingerprints on History, accessed August 19, 2022, https://fingerprints.sals.edu/omeka/items/show/337.