My husband, a nurse in a New Orleans ICU, became symptomatic 5 days ago. He was tested almost immediately, and today we got the results. His test was positive. While he had been experiencing high fever, sore throat, and body aches, he did not have the trademark cough. However, he would randomly have episodes of shortness of breath. He knew this was unlike any illness he’d ever experienced, so even before the official results, we assumed he had it and isolated him to our bedroom. Additionally, our two boys and I have remained at home, not even leaving for essentials, and we will continue to isolate for another 9 days.
The experience hasn’t been horrible, but it’s definitely been scary. My husband is 33 years young with no underlying conditions or history of illness. He is a hardworking, energetic, and involved partner and father, and seeing him so helpless and worn down has been difficult. When he began experiencing shortness of breath with minimal exertion, I became even more concerned. We kept his doctor in the loop, still knowing there was nothing to do but wait it out, monitor symptoms, and stay in contact with the medical team; for him, there was no need for hospitalization (thankfully), no miracle drug.
During the past few days, we’ve learned how to be patient. It was difficult waiting for test results, waiting for doctors to call back, and waiting for him to get better. For 5 days, he’s remained almost exactly the same, and while I logically know this virus takes time to run its course, I continue to be surprised that he isn’t improving quickly.
We’ve put all our trust into a medical team that hasn’t even seen him, a team that’s essentially treating him over the phone. I’ve had to relinquish control and trust others to take care of things I normally handle. Because none of us can leave for any reason, we’ve been leaning on our incredible village. My sister-in-law sent us lunch. My friend delivered breakfast. Other friends have been running errands for me and supporting me via text messages and phone calls. Soon, we will need a big grocery trip; my parents are waiting for me to give them my list. It’s been an adjustment, but it’s going alright so far.
We’ve had to get creative. Isolating my husband impacts where I sleep, how I get dressed, all of that. I had to move out of my bedroom. I’ve been sleeping on the couch, in a kid’s bed, and on an air mattress. Not being able to let the kids see him has been a challenge. They’ve been talking to him through the backyard window, screaming through the door, writing letters, and using FaceTime.
Through it all, I’m proud of myself for doing what needs to be done to keep our house running as normally as possible. Being the only parent literally 24/7 with no break since the kids are out of school with nowhere to go has been physically and mentally exhausting. I’ve been honest with my kids about the seriousness of the situation without alarming them and have kept them in their routine. I think the way I’m handling it has affected them in a good way; they still have the safety and stability they’re accustomed to, but they can see I’m stretched thin and have been great about taking the initiative to help around the house. Not trying to toot my own horn, but toot toot! We’re holding it together.
I do miss watching TV after the kids go to bed, unwinding over a drink, or sitting in the backyard alone with my husband. Those were little things that were just part of our routine, things that just happened so organically, I hardly noticed. But I noticed when they were put on pause. I’m looking forward to letting him out of his room and might even throw a “Welcome back to the rest of our home” party. Until then, we will continue wash hands, wipe down, stay home, and do all we can to take this seriously and flatten the curve. We will continue to remain vigilant and grateful that we have been so fortunate when many others have not.