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Not Today Covid 19

In the midst of the horrible news of the exponential explosion of hospitalizations, deaths and confirmed cases in New York City, this is a story of a blessing. My 70-something-year-old dear friend, “Cousin” started to exhibit symptoms of #Covid19 around March 12th or 13th. Her great-grandchildren who she cares for after-school told her that she had the virus. As she got sicker, the great-grandkids stayed at home with their parents, away from her home. Her home attendant, a younger African woman, went to work on feeding her immune-boosting foods like garlic and onions and teas and spices, etc; giving her lots of water to drink; placing poultices beneath her bed to draw out the sickness, and putting balms on her feet at night. My “Cousin,” a woman with a plethora of comorbidities: overweight, respiratory issues, cancer survivor, heart problems, diabetes, and hypertension had all the symptoms of Covid19. She had fevers, upset stomach, coughing, headaches, sore throat, and fatigue. By Saturday, her home attendant was feeling ill and stayed home. By last Monday, “Cousin” had a scheduled doctor’s appointment for the next day. The doctor’s office called and asked if she had a cold or symptoms. She responded yes, and they routed her to a Covid 19 response team for testing.

The testing was set up at Lehman in the Bronx, although she lives in Harlem—something about her insurance. On Monday afternoon she put on a mask and gloves and went by Uber to the testing facility at Lehman. She described the facility as being set apart from a regular hospital. There were many people there, and she was tested. The person who saw her also prescribed antibiotics for what she deemed to be pneumonia. Somehow they never arrived. She was told to wait for the results in 72 hours. Someone, not an official testing agent, later told her that the results wouldn’t return for about a week.

I spoke with “Cousin” by phone each day. She seemed to get better, was able to get out of bed, disinfect her apartment and was beginning to be able to speak for longer periods of time without coughing. Her granddaughter and cousin dropped off food for her, keeping a safe distance away. Then yesterday happened. One week after she had been tested with no results, I called her and she didn’t answer. I freaked out. I tried to tell myself that she had just gone to the bathroom. But I felt it was something more. I went from my bedroom to my living/dining room pacing and trying to calm myself down. Then my phone rang, it was her. Or her home attendant who felt better and had returned after a few days and didn’t like the way “Cousin” looked. She called Visiting Nurse Services, (VNS), who called an ambulance. I was able to speak with my “Cousin” who was being given oxygen by the EMS. She sounded worse than she had, but true to form, she was cussing cause the home attendant was making her go to the hospital. She was headed to Presbyterian. I began to panic for real then, but remembered my friend, Audrey’s anecdote about panicking and calmed down. I had read too much about Covid 19 patients going to hospitals alone to die. After calming down, I called her niece. She quickly got on the phone and after some time located her in the emergency room at Presbyterian. Around 10 p.m. last night the niece reported that she had spoken with a nice Latina doctor, who told her that they were pretty sure “Cousin” had the virus. She had bad pneumonia, but the most excellent part was that her oxygen level was good. She had not needed oxygen since she arrived. The plan was to treat her with antibiotics for pneumonia and release her in a day or two.

At some point in the middle of the night, the phone rang. It was “Cousin!” She reported that the emergency room was packed with people on gurneys along the walls. She had just gotten out of the emergency room and was in the old building where she had given birth to her children. Each Covid19 patient had their own room. Her nurse was wonderful she said, and she would probably be released in a day or two. They had started her on the antibiotics. This afternoon “Cousin” called me to say she was being transported home by an ambulance. Thank God Ancestors and Spirit Guides! My fat ass “Cousin”, (we call each other this lovingly) with several comorbidities told Covid19—Not Today!

After she arrived home, it was confirmed that the test was positive. I am not sure if the Presbyterian test came back faster; or if Presbyterian was able to access the Lehman test. But confirmation arrived home after she did, 8 days after the first test was taken. We are grateful, thankful and shouting out that there is a balm in Gilead, there is good news in the midst of a pandemic. Older folks with comorbidities aren’t all dead on arrival. Fight that sucker like a girl. And don’t give up till the fat lady sings. And then, keep fighting. I can hear Mama saying, “Shit, don’t just lay there and die. Fight that sucker.”

But the other part of this is that the home attendant was definitely exposed. As was the Uber driver. She lives in a building with seniors who were able to congregate daily until after she was symptomatic. Sending healing vibes to those whom “Cousin” may have infected while awaiting testing. Stay safe, stay in, stay healthy. Self distance, Mask yourself and Wash your damn hands. Mama would say, “For godsakes, it take a pandemic to make you wash ya hands? “

Peace, love, and gratefulness.