A few weeks ago, I had to take my husband to the emergency room in the middle of the night.
Almost immediately the doctor said, “We have to intervene him right away.” I was instantly stressed. Not only was my husband on the verge of surgery, but we were in a hospital as COVID-19 and its Delta variant were surging, a nerve-racking situation.
As we waited, I overheard nurses outside the room talking about the arrival of new COVID-19 patients and could also hear patients in adjacent rooms coughing and gasping for air.
A nurse came into the room and said the ER was full and they needed our room. We had to wait in the hallway.
I had heard in the news about hospitals running out of rooms because of staff shortage due to pandemic burnout and new COVID-19 cases. Now, I was experiencing the shortage on a very personal level.
My husband and I were wearing our masks at the hospital, yet I still feared for our safety against the virus while we waited in this hallway surrounded by COVID-19 patients.
Thankfully, my husband had the surgery he sorely needed; however, after he came out of the procedure, I was told that they had to induce him into a coma and put him on a ventilator.
This update made me even more nervous.
Later I was informed that because the hospital was full, they would keep him in the recovery area until a room became available. This meant I could not be at his bedside as he recovered; I was mortified. We have been together for 25 years and when he needed me the most, I could not be by his side.
The waiting and worrying leaves room for all kinds of thoughts, including the thought of losing the person I love. Then I thought about the uptick in cases due to unvaccinated people’s disregard for science keeping us from reaching herd immunity; this made my personal situation more difficult.
As I waited, I couldn’t help but overhear two women talking. One of them said, “I can’t believe how ridiculous people are, now they are protesting because of the governor’s position against masks. They argue that they are afraid their kids might get sick, people are so ignorant, children don’t get sick.”
Hearing these comments upset me to my core. Here were two people speaking out of ignorance and misinformation while I can’t be by my loved one who, by this time, had spent hours in a recovery room waiting for a bed to open.
These two individuals are among many who listen to the deadly “advice” of politicians and not scientists. Those politicians are mostly conservative Republicans who tell their followers that COVID-19 is just like the flu and that their freedoms are being infringed upon when the health community asks them to mask.
Let’s keep in mind that many who did not vaccinate changed their minds as they died in hospital beds all over the country.
The next day I arrived at the hospital as it opened its doors for visitors. I was told my husband had been transferred to the intensive-care unit (ICU) and that he was awake. I felt such relief. Seeing my husband on a ventilator and not able to talk was shocking and scary, but he was awake now. He was alive. I cried out of relief and gratitude for his life.
I spent most of the day in the ICU with my husband and had the chance to talk to doctors and nurses about the lack of available rooms. I learned that Iowa hospitals were asked to take COVID-19 patients from states that were at capacity.
My husband was finally moved to his own room. The worst had passed and he was stable. While we were in his room, I noticed a lot of staff members were persons of color. Their backgrounds ranged from African to Latin American to Southeast Asian and their work varied from nurses to food services to housekeeping.
They are all unsung heroes, overlooked yet also serving and saving lives in their own way while smiling through each task. I made it a point to speak to each one, to thank them for their dedication during these difficult pandemic times.
It is said that each experience—as scary and stressful as it may be—teaches us a lesson. I learned so much about a health-care system stretched to capacity and about the goodness and dedication of each individual working at a hospital.
Unfortunately, I also experienced the ignorance of individuals, followers of misinformation who contribute to the current strenuous situation placed upon our health care facilities.
These folks who place their trust in politicians who care more about their political agenda than the lives of their constituents.
I am happy to report that my husband is recovering nicely; he is a strong man and has exceeded the doctor’s expectations. We are so grateful to all the personnel we met during this ordeal. Thank you for risking your lives every day to help your fellow human beings, you have shown more leadership than some of our elected officials and their followers.
By Claudia Thrane