Although I have opinions about whether or not all the COVID-19 mandates and restrictions have been necessary I concede I am not a scientist, doctor or in the medical field. Although science both supports and doesn’t support the restrictions, I try to give the benefit of the doubt. The decisions were made in an attempt to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19.
This is beyond wearing face masks. In the bigger view of this topic, masks are but a single thread in the larger fabric woven from all of this.
Let’s not get into conspiracy theories.
What I struggle with are the limitations of medical services to those without the coronavirus but who are seriously ill none-the-less.
The first indication something was wrong with my husband began in January, 2020. On January 20 we were in the doctors office and the emergency room. The coronovirus was on the horizon.
By March 24 when COVID-19 was a gigantic towering threat to human existence, we were again at the doctor’s office. Chris had lost 80 pounds in five months and was still dropping weight in rapid amounts. He struggled to breath. He was extremely weak. Exhausted. Could hardly walk. From there we were sent to the emergency room so my husband could be admitted.
It was a heart wrenching day. Because of the cononavirus I wasn’t even allowed to exit the vehicle and see him inside. I had to leave him. Alone. Suddenly we found the methods and access to health care were radically different.
During this COVID-19 shutdown and behavior mandates this is the number of medical interventions we’ve gone through. My husband has faced almost all of them alone. Even with COVID-19 restrictions doctors who he was already a patient of, from his hospital stays, have been a maze of difficulty. The majority of his doctors began trying to get Chris in to see a doctor with the University of Alabama in Birmingham. It took four months to schedule this evaluation.
Unable to get the intervention needed Chris began the rounds for second and third opinions. Doctors have been pushing COVID-19 restrictions trying to keep my husband alive. Then there are the MRI’s, CTA’s, PET scans, and ultrasounds. Then there have been the tests. Everything in his body has been scanned, tested, poked, prodded, pressed, examined, washed out, emptied and wrung out. Followed by repeats. Results? All we’ve heard is, “I don’t know” or “Nothing unusual or wrong was found”.
Yet they all knew this wasn’t in his head. The proof was in his health. Everywhere we were sent or needed to be sent was limited by 50% capacity and new patients were put off unless they had active cases of COVID-19. Over a course of six months though, even on COVID-19 restrictions Chris has gone through:
- Primary Doctor visits, seven.
- Emergency Room visits, three.
- Hospital Admittance, two, for a total of six days.
- Oncologists/Surgeon–seven visits.
- Gastrologists, eight appointments, two different doctors.
- Cardiovascular/Internist, five.
- Pulmulerologist, two visits and it took four months to get an appointment. Scans ordered in July were completed in August and we won’t get results until October 29 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
- Scans, labs, tests when Chris was not in the hospital; total of eleven. One took three consecutive days.
- Three COVID-19 tests, all of which have been negative.
- Two additional scans have been ordered but not scheduled yet.
- Approval from our health insurance has to come through first and those are taking longer to get approved because they are short staffed because of, yes, COVID-19 restrictions.
- Upcoming new doctor with teaching/research hospital scheduled for October 5, 2020. (UAB, The University of Alabama in Birmingham, is nationally known for it’s research, care and medical breakthroughs.) This appointment too took four months to get arranged.
Other restrictions that have interfered in Chris’ recovery:
- Very limited family involvement allowed in treatment. We’ve not been allowed to attend appointments or scans with him. Only two doctors have been okay with my being on the phone during an appointment. For 95% of his appointments, scans and tests Chris was so sick he couldn’t remember what all the doctor had said, or why a test or scan had been ordered or why a new medication was being tried.
- Due to staff shortages and resources given to the COVID-19 accomodations in the hospital even trying to talk to a nurse or doctor was an all-day investment in calls and time.
- Due to staff shortages and reassignments because of the coronavirus the financial assistance personnel were overwhelmed. Phone calls, even if you held for the “next representative available” went to voice mail or were dropped off. Messages went unreturned. Written communication went unacknowledged.
- The same restrictions were in play at our health insurance company. Scans, tests, lab works almost always required prior approval. Those took longer to get because of a shortage of personnel.
- The restrictions to who you could visit with took a huge emotional toll. Churches were shut down for a great deal of this time. Outside services in the heat prevented Chris from attending.
- People couldn’t visit us and we couldn’t visit them. By the time we were able to see our great nieces and nephew they were shocked to see their Funcle. Our oldest greatniece ran her fingers over the pad of his hand where callous had always been prominent. “What happened? They’ve always been tough.” We both cried.
- His health. Interventions the doctors thought he needed were always next to impossible to get. The plan became to just throw the kitchen sink at the issues until that appointment at UAB could come through.
- Short and long term disability insurances were also hampered by too few staff. Balls got dropped. No one followed up with their end of the paperwork or submission for approval. His long-term disability has been pending since July 14. Having gone through this process myself I understand “rubber stamping” but this has gone beyond that.
The emotional cost has been the most expensive. None of those making these decisions are the ones paying the true cost for them. Because, even as sick as he was, my husband’s undiagnosed illness, didn’t qualify him for life or death intervention.
What none of these COVID-19 restrictions has been able to do is cut off our source of hope. For despite these costs, we’re so blessed because diagnosed or not, my husband has begun to slowly get better. His weight is creeping up. His strength is better. He still struggles with breathing, pain when he eats, depression and stamia but he is moving forward. Though, like this week, he still has his bad days. He’s slept these days away.
Have all the protective, “in case’ precautious, been necessary? Maybe? But the criteria, the nuts and bolts of enforcing them? Too much cost to American’s in danger of severe health issues or death. Limited access to health care, especially when you’re paying through the nose for insurance, is a dangerous game to be forced into. There have to have been ways that those needing medical interventions could still get them without prolonging their agony. My husband has nearly lost his life. By the time he is actually diagnosed it may to late for him to recover his complete health. He could still die.
There are more costs to American’s with COVID-19 restrictions and mandates. Those will be talked about later.
Until this is over, maybe those in charge can live with themselves but I am praying constantly to forgive them.
For anyone going through something similiar with or without the assurance of God on your side, I pray for you too.