The Saturday before Christmas my sister called me and said that my dad left work early that Thursday because he experienced backaches and headaches. That Saturday my parents got COVID-19 tests to ensure they were safe because since March 2020 all illnesses were fear of having COVID.
My wife and I visited her family in Detroit at the time and anticipated to visit my parents in Tennessee the following Monday. We should have waited until my parents got negative results before traveling home, but we had faith that it was just because my dad was old and working hard. He also has diabetes which has effects on his health.
When we arrived in Tennessee that Monday afternoon my dad looked exhausted. Again, I assumed it had to do with working long hours and having diabetes. My mom had a cough and complained about losing her sense of smell and taste, two distinctive symptoms of COVID-19. I began to worry, but still hoping for the best.
I also worried because my mom didn’t wear a mask in the house. She sometimes coughed in her hand and didn’t wear gloves.
That Wednesday my dad received a call. He had his phone on speaker and I overheard the nurse saying that my parents’ tests came back positive.
I initially felt angry. Angry that my parents weren’t wearing masks knowing that they took a COVID test. Angry at myself because I chose not to wear a mask.
My wife and I were confused on what to do. Should we stay, get tested, and quarantine for 10 days? We were inbetween moving while on holiday vacation and still had important things to do back at home. Should we leave the next day knowing that we were already exposed but at least protect ourselves in case we did not contract the virus already?
We chose to leave the next day. So far we were exposed for four days but felt fine at the time so we had hope that we had not contracted the virus yet. We figured if we stayed then, got tested, and received positive results then we could have contracted it by staying.
My mom wanted us to stay. At least for a few more days. We figured what would be the use of staying since we would have to quarantine from each other in the same house. Meaning my parents stayed in their bedroom and my wife and I stayed in my bedroom.
Whats the point of spending the holidays together when we can’t even be together? Might as well go back home and take care of other business, or at least be quarantined in our own home where we can move around freely and my parents can move around their house and not be stuck to their bedroom for days.
My sister wanted us to stay and ensure their illness didn’t get worse because my dad is high risk due to his diabetes. Since social distancing started I read many news articles about people who’s symptoms got worse and led to death. If my dad’s symptoms were going to get worse then they most likely would have happened by the fourth day of having COVID.
My mom was already feeling better at the time we chose to leave. Most symptoms she experienced was a cough and sleepiness. I’ve seen illnesses where a cough was much worse than what COVID gave her. She was going to be fine.
And what could I have done by staying? My wife and I are young and healthy, but we still don’t know what the virus could have done to us if we caught it. At the beginning of this pandemic everyone thought only the elderly and those with preexisting medical issues would suffer the worst from this. Then young and seemingly healthy people started dying from COVID.
If my parents symptoms got worse then there was no over the counter remedies that I could of gave them to help. Only thing I could do is take them to the hospital where they could get the proper treatment.
My dad was really the only one to have serious concerns about, but he had mom there to care for him. My mom was well enough to still get up in the morning and cook for us.
Since we left I’ve been checking on my parents everyday to see how they were doing. Each passing day they felt better. My mom says she’s feeling a lot better. My dad still having headaches and body aches but his symptoms are not getting worse. My mom said “through it all I hope you still care.”
I texted back “Because I didn’t stay means I don’t care?”
She didn’t respond.
Before COVID, families always stood by each other during illnesses. Before COVID, nobody wore masks while they were sick. People just covered their mouth when they coughed, took their medicine, and kept it moving. A lot of people still went to work while they were sick if they felt like they could.
But this time it’s different. It’s not a common cold. It’s a deadly virus that no one is sure of how it’ll effect them. Whats the point of all this social distancing if I’m just going to stick around people who are COVID positive even if they are my parents.
I care about my parents. I want to see them get better. And if I really felt like they’re symptoms were getting worse then I would have been confident they have COVID-19 before hearing their results. If I felt like they wouldn’t be able to drive themselves to a hospital, then I would have stayed.
I could say if my mom cared about me then she would have worn a mask, she would have worn gloves, or she would have told us to not come until they received their results. But I’m not holding that against her, and my mom should not hold my safety concerns against me, if she cared.