New York, New York- ravaged by COVID-19

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New York, New York- ravaged by COVID-19

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The pandemic made me realize just how no matter how prepared you think you are, diseases don't discriminate. Living in New York, 10 miles from the first epicenter in the state and 30 miles from New York City, my quarantine was different from my peers living in New England. Upon being told on Friday, March 13, 2020 that my campus was closing, and I only had until Sunday to call my parents for them to make the five hour drive to campus the next day, I was instantly filled with anxiety. I knew from the news that New York City had many cases and was only increasing by the day, so getting home with all my things in one trip was a necessity. I did not have the luxury of driving myself home, as I did not have a car with me, so waiting the night before going home was one full of stress as threats of state boarders closing flooded through the halls of my dorm.
Upon arriving home, my family quickly hunkered down, trying to figure out what we were going to do in regards to taking care of my parents' elderly mothers. One was in assisted living and the other needed frequent trips to the doctor, so our priorities were focused on them being safe, while ensuring we would not be at risk. This included not traveling outside or near the ten mile radius that was infected in my county and buying non perishable goods for two months while my mother was the one to venture out to take care of her mother and my dad calling every week to keep up with his mother's health.
This was our life, staying inside, everyone working within their own rooms trying to adjust to the new normal. That was until my mother came down with a cold. This happened when New York was short on ventilators and hospital beds and doctors had to pick and choose who got the chance of living. This cold turned into a fever, and since our area was short COVID tests, the only place she could get was thirty minutes away and she ended up waiting in a line for two hours- only to yield a negative. But her symptoms persisted, losing her smell and taste, and every doctor she called said the same thing, her test was most likely part of the thirty percent of tests that had false negatives and she did in fact have COVID-19. The worst thing we had heard was an ominous warning from my uncle working in the ICU, where he said not to go to the hospital or emergency room unless my mother was no longer able to breathe on her own because the chances of the hospital killing her if she went in for an in person visit were much higher than COVID-19 itself. This disease that was supposedly "no worse than the flu" quickly turned sour.
My mother had isolated herself in my parents' room, my father had decided to sleep on a spare mattress in our family room and we all shared one bathroom so as to limit our exposure to our mother. We would leave food outside her door and use tongs to carry her empty dishes down to be washed and she would text us if she needed anything because talking became too much work. When she started shaking violently and her breathing became more labored after a week and a half, it was then that we were faced with a difficult choice- keep treating her at home with fluids, food and any over the counter things we were told could help ease her discomfort, or take her to the emergency room and let a doctor assess her risk.
Luckily, my mother is alive and well. Three weeks after she began showing symptoms, my mother came down from her room, refusing to get within twenty feet of us and spoke very softly that her chills were gone. Things began looking hopeful again. Every day my mother was getting stronger and was checking in with doctors about her progress and we were able to breathe a little easier that we wouldn't need to go to a hospital and be faced with the uncertainty that her life would be deemed less important than another persons'.
There is no fear quite like thinking your mother is going to die in the room next to yours and all you can do is sit on the other side of the wall and hope for her recovery. I am forever grateful that my family was one of the lucky ones and we have not lost anyone to COVID-19 so far, but nearly losing my mother made me aware that even a healthy woman in her early fifties can be rendered helpless by an illness that was not taken seriously. COVID-19 was and is a very real threat and with the soaring numbers my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones; I could not imagine being without my mother, so I can barely imagine the pain this pandemic has caused countless people around the world.

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This item was submitted on February 17, 2021 by Kaitlin Beechert using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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