Thursday, May 30 2024 - 11:58 AM
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Blessings for My Husband

My own Coronavirus experience began soon after New York City shut down in mid-March 2020. My husband, Robert, began to feel exhausted, slept later and later each day, and went to bed much earlier than usual. I was more tired than usual and went to bed when he did, usually around 8 p.m. But I worked from home like many others and had to get to my laptop for work at regular hours. So I pushed myself to keep going. Within a week or so, I felt better, but Robert no longer wanted to do anything but stay in bed and sleep. He had no interest in his regular activities and rarely left the bed. He was also coughing, sometimes severely and nonstop. His mental fogginess was unlike anything I’d ever seen from him.

I had already asked Facebook friends to pray for my husband and kept them updated daily. Eventually, I told my bosses what was happening. Everyone was concerned that it might be Covid, which had already killed hundreds of people in the city. On the last day of March 2020, it all came to a head when I left my work laptop in the living room to check on him. He was standing in the bathroom, completely bewildered about what to do with something he was holding. He was out of it mentally.

I called our doctor friend—thank God for her. She told me to take his temperature and blood pressure and call her back, which I did. His temp was 101.4, as I recall, but I do not remember his blood pressure reading. But when I told her the results and that Robert had been eating almost nothing, was coughing pretty badly, and wanted to sleep all the time, she told me to get him to the Emergency Room immediately.

Trip to the ER

My husband was already back in bed. He was beyond reluctant to do anything as monumental as getting showered and dressed and going to the ER. But he eventually got up, took his shower, and got dressed, all of which took an incredibly long time. He had no energy, so every movement seemed as if it were in slow motion. I gathered his medications, and he insisted that one of his bills be paid before he left, as it was due that day. But his mind was so foggy that it took him about 45 minutes to figure out how to pay it.

Meanwhile, I told my bosses I was taking Robert to the hospital. Everyone I knew was praying or wishing us well. I informed my Facebook friends what was happening. We flagged down a taxi and were dropped off at Montefiore Hospital in The Bronx. But we soon discovered the taxi had dropped us at the wrong entrance. I did not know that hospital, but our doctor friend worked there, so that’s where she said we should go.

The ER entrance was around the corner and halfway to the middle of the block. We could immediately see triage activities outside the hospital ER entrance. I walked my husband to the place indicated, as I did not trust that he was steady enough to walk on his own without falling. I hugged him goodbye and left him there. To say I was afraid for him would be true. To say I was relieved would also be true. I was afraid because I didn’t know what he had and if I would see him again. Also, I was relieved because I knew he needed better care than I could give him at home.

Returning Home

So I stood on the sidewalk, suddenly and starkly aware that I should have asked the taxi driver to wait. I was not at all familiar with that section of The Bronx and had no sense of where I was to where we lived. I stood at the curb wondering what to do to get home and asked God, “Now what?” Then I saw one bus go by, but the electronic sign on the front of the bus displayed a street name I didn’t recognize.

Eventually, I found a bus stop, asked the next driver if his bus went to Fordham Road, and was happy to hear that it did. I knew if I got there, I could get home. As I sat on the bus, I praised God for His loving care for me in this unfamiliar location. When I reached my apartment building, it was dark because I stopped to get groceries, knowing that I would be quarantined for two weeks if Robert was diagnosed with Covid.

Once inside my apartment, I began to worry that I might have to go back to the hospital and get him that night if they didn’t admit him. I knew he needed hospital care. I also didn’t want to go out again that night, and it was cold and unpleasantly damp. So I couldn’t settle. I called our doctor friend. She said it wasn’t likely that they would send him home as late as it was. So I watched TV and ate a catch-as-catch-can type of supper.

Leaving My Husband In God’s Hands

Oddly enough, it hadn’t occurred to me yet to call Robert’s family. Some of them are Facebook friends and had arranged a family prayer line with cousins, an aunt, and his one surviving sibling. During his illness, all prayed three times a day for their beloved brother, cousin, uncle, and nephew. My husband is greatly loved and appreciated by family, former schoolmates, former co-workers, church friends, and family. So prayers were going up nationwide. Although I was afraid for him, I knew I could do nothing about it except leave my precious husband in God’s hands.

I worked as much as the phone calls of concern and prayer would allow. Church members called, offering help and prayer. I appreciated every single call, and I hope they knew it, as I am pretty sure I was not entirely engaged with all of them. I also received calls from people I never expected, including a church administrator in our conference who used to be a pastor at our local church. That surprised me the most.

In the Hospital

Every day for the first few days, whenever I tried to talk with a doctor or nurse to find out about Robert’s condition, I received no return calls. I knew they were busy, but I didn’t understand why somebody couldn’t call back. When I finally got through, a physician’s assistant told me that Robert was on oxygen and was sleeping a lot. Our doctor friend checked on his progress every day and kept me informed. It would have been much harder to deal with the situation without her.

The third day my husband was in the hospital, I could finally speak with him on the phone. His voice was faint and breathy, and I could hear the oxygen shishing faintly in the background. He had little energy to say much. I just told him I loved him and that everybody I knew was praying for him, including his family, who held prayer vigils three times a day. I said to rest, hang in there, and I’d call him the next day.

After that call and hearing my sweetheart’s voice, I sobbed a long time before pulling myself together. Even remembering that now brings tears to my eyes. I called him every day, and at first, I could hear no change. As the days passed, he became more interested in what was going on at home, and his voice got somewhat more robust, so our calls lasted a few minutes longer and were filled with more details.

Getting Help

My work team appointed one of my team members to be my Covid liaison with the world while I was under quarantine, so Joe called me every morning at 9:00 a.m. to see how I was doing, chat a bit, cheer me up, and see if there was anything I needed. Twice he brought me groceries during that time, and once he rode his bike to the office, brought back a few masks and some of the clothing I had ordered pre-lockdown. He was my lifeline to the outside world. During this time, I was repeatedly told by my team and others that if I needed anything, to ask.

Coming Home

After ten days in the hospital, Robert was allowed to come home. I was thrilled and jumping up and down. I sterilized every surface I could think of that he might touch. An ambulance was to bring him home, so I looked out the window at least five times that afternoon before I finally saw one in front of our building. My heart sang, “He’s home, he’s home, he’s home.”

The hazmat-suited EMTs, entirely covered in white, walked my husband carefully up the few stairs to the building entrance, the elevator, and our door down the hall from the elevator. They handed him off carefully to me. He was so worn out from the effort of getting home. He could do no more than shuffle his feet a few inches at a time across the floor. I took his hands and walked back to the bedroom, where he flopped on the bed, exhausted.

Not the Same Man

I was so glad to see him, but he wasn’t the same man. He had lost a lot of weight– 30 pounds, as it turned out. He was pretty much skin and bone and reminded me of the photos of rescued Holocaust survivors. It wasn’t that bad, of course, but he was very skinny. Then my challenge became getting him to eat. I fixed what I thought would be appetizing, but he couldn’t deal with much. His senses of taste and smell had not yet returned, and it was an effort to lift a utensil to his mouth.

I was desperate to get nutrients into him, and when our doctor friend called to see how we were doing, I mentioned the problem. She told me to get him some Glucerna. When I told my work contact, Joe, about that, he and another on my team set to work ordering two cartons delivered to our apartment. This order helped greatly because it was easy for Robert to handle. My firm paid for groceries and the Glucerna during this time. They were awesome to us.

I asked God what I could do to make it easier for Robert to eat, and I awoke one morning with the solution–small snacks about six times a day. I thanked God immediately because I knew the answer came directly from Him. So, I fed my husband things like applesauce and a few crackers, or a dish of cottage cheese, or a piece of bread with butter and jam. Or a handful of grapes or blueberries, or whatever I could think of. Little by little, his sense of taste and smell returned, along with his appetite, and he was able to eat regular meals again. Praise God. He has gained back most of that 30 pounds and doesn’t want to gain back the rest of it.

Toilet Paper Blessing

As it concerned many, I was worried that we were running out of toilet paper. I tried to order it through a grocery app, but paper towels were delivered instead. One day a young lady in our church, who had a young family and needed the item herself, offered to get us toilet paper if we needed it. I thought, no, I can find a few rolls somewhere. How bad could it be?

After I was out of quarantine, I tried to find some and could not. So when the young woman called another time to see how we were doing, I took her up on her offer. She dropped off a mega pack that ended up lasting us until long after we moved to Ohio in August. That was a big blessing and went far beyond the call of friendship. I will never forget her act of kindness and generosity. She refused any reimbursement offer, so I trust that the Lord rewarded her love multiple times over.

During that stress and stay-at-home orders, God led my internet search to the only laundromat in The Bronx that picked up and delivered. They were a godsend, and we used their services until we moved in August to Ohio.

Thankful for God’s Care

I will never forget the kindnesses of our family, our church members, my Facebook friends, my work team. I will never forget how God lovingly cared for me, getting me home from an unfamiliar location and providing free groceries. And I will never forget the many concerned and loving phone calls. Nor will I forget the wonderful sleep free from overwhelming worry. Or a job to do to keep myself occupied, and at the end of it, my husband’s recovery. God’s rich blessings on Robert and me have continued. My husband has no lingering severe effects from his Covid experience except that he gets tired more quickly than he did before his illness.

If you liked this, you might also like Concerned About My Son | The Coronavirus and the Christian Faith

Ann E. Slaughter writes from Ohio.

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About Ann E. Slaughter

Ann E. Slaughter

writes from Ohio.

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