When my dad was in the hospital with COVID-19 for two weeks, fearing that he was on the edge of his life — he called me and said, “Morgan you’re my writer. You have to write down all of my life stories before I go.”
A month or so later, he has been hospitalized again—spending months on a ventilator following complications from a coronary bypass surgery.
Now he can’t talk. Nor can he breathe on his own. And all I want to do is be with him but I can’t. And I can’t write his stories because he can’t tell them to me — so this is the one I will write.
A decade or so from now we are going to look back on history and regret how we allowed people to suffer alone — with no one familiar there to squeeze their hand (even if it is through latex gloves, teary eyes, and fogging face shields).
A patient in the ICU for weeks or months, like my dad, doesn’t only have to recover from open-heart surgery — he’ll have to recover from the trauma caused by a near-death experience in prolonged isolation. And patients hospitalized for cancer or traumatic injuries have to endure loneliness, loss of hope, depression, and anxiety — conditions that can be alleviated by having loved ones near. Low morale in a hospital without visitors is as contagious as the virus itself.
If a patient isn’t contagious and the family has tested negative, what is the need for such a strict no visitor policy? My dad has been admitted and transferred to three hospital facilities in Arizona in the past two months — all of which have banned all visitors.
If there’s one takeaway we learn from this pandemic —besides finding a cure and preparing better for the next global health crisis — it’s just how inextricably linked our mental and physical health are. And how we should never force someone to fight for their life alone.
Let's reunite these patients with their loved ones.
You can listen to the playlists I made for dad here.