One year ago

A year ago today Dad died, with no family present at the moment he passed. I regret that a lot, though several of us had done a good job of staying close to him in the final weeks as he moved from assisted living to hospital to rehab facility, then back to hospital and then to hospice. My brothers and I made sure he was in a good place with good care before I returned to Socal for a few days, and I had a reasonable expectation that he would be OK while I was away. It didn’t turn out that way; within a few days of my departure he had some kind of cardiac or stroke event and died within minutes. Here’s the last picture I have of him in his last room/facility, just days before he died. He had books to read and TV to watch, and he seemed happy, given the circumstances.

Congestive heart failure was his underlying problem, the thing that led to his almost-constant acute care in his final year. It wore him down. But catching Covid while in Kings Daughters Hospital a year ago was the final straw. He just wasn’t strong enough to fight off the effects of the virus.

And now Covid is again a factor in our family, with about four cases of it affecting people very close to me. It’s a contentious topic – some folks want to wave it off and dismiss it as just another disease like the common cold or flu that we all have to live with, but I can’t do that. I’ve seen first hand how the virus can kill someone who was otherwise going to live a bit longer, maybe a lot longer. And with my recent health issues, the thought of contracting Covid at this point is pretty damn scary. Sure, it might just manifest as a cold or flu, but it might not.

My MD cousin says hospital docs have pretty much given up wearing masks all the time, and have become comfortable with brief unmasked exposure to Covid patients to provide routine care. The days of extreme environmental controls around Covid patients are over – health care providers have just moved on.

But I can’t do it. For me Covid is still a thing to be feared, a thing that altered the course of history, globally and personally. There’s so much we don’t know about it – long term effects, the impact of genetics on who gets sick and how sick you get, the actual infectiousness of current strains. And of course in the back of my mind there’s the nightmare scenario of a newly-evolved strain that’s both very transmissable and very deadly. The virus might not be through with us.

All that aside, today I’m taking time to remember Dad.

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