Scary to think only a few months ago, the world we knew was on a path of potential destruction and like the titanic people thought we were unsinkable.
There is a huge leak in our bow and our world has changed.
5 months ago, little did we know that a pandemic was about to rear its ugly head and take control of the narrative of everyone’s life. Not one person has gone unaffected by COVID19. Lives have been turned upside down. Death, hurt, destruction and fear have been catapulted around the world at a speed that is unprecedented.
So many losses, so many pictures of death, of worry, of the unknown. This virus has hit us like a freight train just as we were about to sit down to watch our favourite episode of Friends.
There are so many questions and the reality is, they may never get answered, truthfully that is.
The truth is muddied and depending on what source you get it from.
The truth for me is that the world we’ve known is history and what history has taught us is that with every drastic and unforeseen change, comes a brighter day, a more resilient world and people.
World War 2 resulted in a more united Europe, Spanish Flu Pandemic science found a vaccine, world hunger drove created Live AID. in times of turmoil, death and sorrow emerges a more resilient, focused and mindful society.
But we cannot step away from the fact that there is an overwhelming fear sweeping through society.
That fear can be seen through the actions of others. It can be seen by people knuckling down and staying at home, equally there’s a fear in those ignoring media and science because maybe staying at home is a more frightening aspect than actually contracting the virus. Equally, there’s a fear of losing control and being removed of choice. The choice to go out, the choice to travel, the choice to hug someone, kiss someone, choice of interaction.
The greatest fear of all in my opinion is the fear of losing someone you love. Someone close to you and for me that fear was evident before COVID19 and will be after COVID19. That for me is the one constant before and after this thing. We all will face the inevitable at some stage, but if we can do anything to push it off for as long as possible we should.
Having seen and continuing to see my father fight the virus I would not wish it on my worst enemy. The greatest fear of all to him was the fear of the unknown. This illness was unlike any he has experienced before. The fever, the headaches, the sweats, the cold, the lack of smell and taste, the inability to hold down food, the tiredness, the lack of energy, the fight to get air into his lungs, the long sleepless nights for him and us, the paramedics calling to the apartment, the collapsing, the coughing. All of this together was frightening, worrying, testing and completely sapping.
He went through all this and stayed out of hospital. With the care of my mum and I, along with the direction of his GP and lung specialist we were giving him the tools to fight back. And that’s exactly what he did, like never before. If there’s anything I can take out of this experience it is the fact that we fought back together.
For those who are sick, I know they say isolate yourself from the rest of your family but for us that was no possible, in an apartment. Equally, he didn’t have the energy to fight back, to lift food to his mouth, to breath. He needed our help.
The paramedic who came to test him initially, Des, he said, we’re living in it, so no need for masks or gloves, just wash our hands every time we interact with him and try keep our distance when he’s coughing. So that’s what we did.
Throughout this whole process, the fear of the unknown was a common trend. This was fueled by how he felt physically because it was nothing he’d experienced before, but it was equally fueled by the media and reporting.
We say science is fact, however, the contradictory messaging from news channel to news channel, social media platform to platform, person to person was mentally taxing on us all. The fact of the matter was and is that no one knows categorically what the virus does except make certain people incredibly sick and kill people.
From our first hand experience I believe it is important to share with you some learnings we had which have helped my dad get through COVID and start building himself up again. They are not in any order just thoughts as they came to mind. He’s a ways to go but slow and steady wins the race.
Here’s what we did and what the doctors called a home made ICU
- Any symptoms of chills, confusion call you GP
- Isotonic drinks and salty biscuits are essential to help keep salt levels replenished due to all the sweating
- Take Temperature every 4-6 hours (stock up on the covers for the digital thermometers)
- Cold damp towel at night on the head to try keep temperature at bay
- Have Solpadeine during the day, paracetamol at night,
- Anti-inflammatories like Vimovo were great for him and soft on his stomach
- Keep feeding fluids, with some form of salt/sugar in them
- Little and often
- Air the room they are in, every few hours
- Buy an Oximeter to check O2 levels
- Breathing techniques, deep breath into the lungs and hold for 5 seconds, then exhale. On the 6th exhalation cough into your t-shirt
- Support structure for food, medicines and beers 🙂 this is a must, we would have been completely isolated and stranded if it were not for our friends and community
- He had to take an antibiotic which help fight the infection in his lungs
Right now there are scenes all over the world of families and friends keeping their distance, however, underneath it all, dying to get a chance to hold one another. From my experience there are smiles but hiding behind those eyes is worry and wonder for what is going to happen next.
And we don’t know. However, what I do know is this, if you are lucky enough to share a hug, kiss or hold a hand of someone you love and care about, don’t wait. If you feel lost and alone, you’re not. Share your story, you don’t have to pretend to be strong because of what you see on social feeds.
Strength is something that you build by asking for help. You don’t just go train, you ask a coach to help you, you don’t go and learn how to get a PHD you ask lecturers for help, you don’t fix your own injury, you ask a medical professional to help you.
HELP is out there, we asked for help so we could get through this time in our lives. We had help from doctors, from friends either phone calls, food deliveries, video calls, from inspirational stories of others and from one another. My Mum and I helped each other through this, we had incredible support from my sister who lives away, but she too helped us manage the panic, be a comforting voice when we were frightened, and she, my brother in law and a few others were the counsel we needed to manage through.
So, for now, take real care of yourselves and those you love. Like any injury, if you take the time to rehab it properly you will be fine, however, if you rush back to play without doing the necessary work, it will plague you for life.
We are lucky to have my Dad and he knows we love him to bits and we’re so proud of him. He’s his toughest critic but aren’t we all. The one thing I know is that he’s a fighter and he has a lot to fight for. One day I hope to be a Dad too, and if I can be half the Dad he was to me, I’ll be doing incredibly well. He and Mum raised us to have self belief, trust in our gut and live our lives, not the life of someone else.
What I do know after all this is that my Mum may as well have been a nurse/doctor. Her light shines brightest when others are lost or sick. She has been an advisor to me and so many of my friends over the years, her heart and support know no bounds. Her diligence in writing down all his medication, detailing his every move making it easier for the paramedics and doctors to understand the situation was incredible to be part of. She’s a real leader and the glue of our household without a shadow of a doubt.
As frustrating as this may be, do the rehab and get it right first time. I would hate for anyone to go through what my Dad went through. And for those who have lost their lives, it is important we respect their loss and do what we can to prevent further loss and tragedy.
So now we look to the future, as I sit here beside my Dad while he eats his dinner. What is most important to us is that we are looking ahead together. Fighting whatever fight that comes along, right now it’s COVID and one thing we all must do is fight.
If you feel you can relate to anything that I’ve said, reach to me or a someone and ask for help. If my story helps 1 person, then this post was worth writing.
*nothing said above is medical advice simply my experience and story