Surviving Sixty-Nine

The name of my blog is not relative to my life anymore. I’m no longer Loving Sixty-Five.  Now I’m lucky to be Surviving Sixty-Nine.  Tragically too many have not survived this strange and frightening virus.

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We’re in Florida.  Too many Floridians played fast and loose with precautions.  Our home is in a high-rise, and there have been several cases in our building.  As well as one death.

It’s hard to “social distance” in an elevator.  While our building management has taken excellent steps to make sure we are disinfected, coronavirus has crept in.  Masks are mandatory in our building, and residents push elevator buttons with an elbow or a disinfectant wipe.  Some tenants must have decided elbows and wipes weren’t cautious enough.  Shortly after lockdown signs were posted by elevator entrances stating “Please don’t use your feet to press the buttons.”

Feet? Impressive that could be possible given the average age of our residents.  Balancing on one foot while attempting to lift the other high enough to reach the buttons? Hard to picture, but it must have happened.

We’ve spent our six-month Virus Vacation entertaining ourselves with Libby and Hoopla books, writing letters (me), doing crossword puzzles in ink (Jim), the occasional game of Scrabble, and watching Netflix/Amazon television every night.  Plus I get regular FaceTime calls from Tate who is now four and a half.

He’ll call and ask me if I want to color.  Or play with our action figures.  I didn’t have any action figures the first time he made this request.  I did, however, have my little plastic Saint Joseph who was so helpful in selling our last home.  He made a decent action guy in a pinch.  Plus the wooden duck decoy swam in and out of camera range now and again.

Joseph and Duck are now retired from Action Figure duty since I made two sock puppets.  Sharkey and Nana.  Joseph spends his retirement on the windowsill watching boats bobbing the Tampa Bay.  Duck is settled in on an antique trunk, back to the view.  I guess he had enough of aquatic life.

I named Sharkey for obvious reasons, the fin on his back.  Tate named Nana, which is also what he calls me.  Hmmm.  Does Tate think I resemble that stunning lady on the left?  Maybe it’s my purple hair?

All things considered, we are very lucky.

The people we ache for are those who have lost their loved ones.  Not being with your loved one when they are so very ill. Or picture enduring that heartbreak alone?   Tethered to a hospital bed, saying goodbye to your spouse when the nurse holds the phone up to your face so you can gasp a last farewell?  Tragic.

I think a lot about health care workers.  My daughter is a Covid19 unit nurse in Chicago.  She doesn’t talk about it a whole lot.  And I don’t ask.  I figure she may prefer not rehashing the grim hospital realities.

She did call one-day crying happy tears!  One of the patients she had admitted actually got to GO HOME.  Going home after COVID is the exception, not the rule.  Her unit plays a few bars of “Here comes the Sun” when a patient is released.  Mo heard the music and was thrilled. She said for the first time in months she felt that maybe, just maybe, her work was making a difference.

A friend sent me an article titled “What COVID Nurses Know.”

Nurses were interviewed.  Just short snippets.  All very sobering.

“I took care of a patient who was in their mid-30s and came in with shortness of breath.  He was admitted, and after three days got worse. When he went down to the ICU, he basically knew that once he got on the ventilator, there was the potential of never coming off of it.  The last call he made was to his mother, and it was heartbreaking to hear him say, “I hope I see you again.”  He ended up passing away.”

I remember early on having a patient who was middle-aged and having some trouble breathing.  We were trying to decide whether or not to intubate him and decided to hold off.  With a sense of panic, he asked to call his wife.  I said, “Yes, let’s call her.”  But then he said, “You know what? Let’s not call because I’m struggling to breathe, and I don’t want her to hear me that way.”  And then it probably wasn’t more than 20 minutes, he passed away.”

“If you hate wearing a mask, trust me, you’re going to hate the ventilator way more.”

I thought about that last one earlier this week.  There was an unmasked woman stalled in the middle of the grocery store aisle, taking her time choosing pasta.  I couldn’t get past her without getting too close. Possibly she was hearing impaired, because she didn’t respond when I said, “Please excuse me.” Faced with this small dilemma I turned and drove my cart the wrong way down a one-way aisle.

And finally this;

“We had a 86-year-old patient who said, “Who cares?  I’m 86!  If I die, it’s my time.”  And that’s fair, she had lived her life.  I’m happy about that.  But the doctor told her, “You don’t want to die like this.”

Mo said it’s a terrible, lonely death.  She had one terrified, dying woman whose sisters called to reassure her she would be “fine.”  The poor woman needed comfort, not platitudes.  Sadly, she died hearing false cheer.

So gentle readers. Wear your masks.  Wash your hands.  Stay home if possible.  Stay safe.  Stay healthy.

For upcoming blog posts I promise something more upbeat.  FYI: My goal is to publish once a week.  Probably on Friday afternoons.  So if you aren’t interested in what I have to say, that’s a good day to go grab a drive-through cup of coffee.