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Old 11-24-2020, 06:17 PM   #1
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COVID-19: Please Read

Hello my fellow forum members:

This is a very long, detailed, very personal post, and I appreciate you taking the time to read it carefully and in its entirety.

Please allow me the opportunity to write about something I feel is extremely important that is not van related. The purpose of my post is to prevent something really bad from happening to you and / or your loved ones. This post is not meant to be patronizing, political or judgemental. My hope is that anyone who reads this will take the messages and lessons to heart and know my great and only desire is to spare you and your loved ones the pain that my family and I are experiencing.

People, **please** take the COVID-19 / Coronavirus situation seriously in a way where it's beyond just wearing a mask and being socially distant. Please: Be Careful. Be Smart. Be Responsible. Keep yourself, your loved ones, your community and other communities healthy. Most of the front-end of safety and responsibility is within each of our control. Sadly, there are some things and people we cannot control.

Some perspective: in the past two weeks, four members of my immediate family — including my elderly parents who are in mostly in very good shape (some of you have met them, so you know what I mean) — were exposed, and ALL tested positive. Two were infected first, then it spread to two more. Three out of the four have been extremely lucky; they seemingly made it through with fevers, chills, fatigue and cough during the 14-day isolation and quarantine period. Thankfully, no hospitalizations for those three. For the 14 days, they were by themselves, physically alone, with constant monitoring from the rest of us via phone calls and texts. They are tired, but recovering.

As lovers of the outdoors, we forum members joke about how desirable it would be to spend 14 days in isolation in our vans. Try this on: spending 14 days, all alone in your van or a room, not knowing if you could go from feeling nothing, to feeling sick, to almost dying, with all of it changing on a dime. This is no exaggeration.

Most unfortunately, the glue of the family — my Mom — is now in the ICU with COVID-related viral pneumonia in both lungs and deteriorating. She was admitted on day eight of her infection. She was infected just before the other family members tested positive, and like them, for the first eight days, she had manageable symptoms. But things changed rapidly for the worse.

Imagine for a moment this is your reality and not mine: I cannot see my most beloved Mom. I cannot be with her, encourage or comfort her, nor reciprocate for all the times was there for me, including sleeping at my bedside nearly every night I was in the hospital, for nearly a month, recovering and healing from a very bad car accident. She is now all alone, in a COVID-isolation room, where her tremendously dedicated, committed and exhausted nurses and doctors have to essentially HazMat-up before entering (keep in mind the nurses are also taking care of everyone else in the ICU). No one in my family can see her, and it is extremely difficult to communicate with her by phone. She is being fed supplemental oxygen via a mask right now, and if she has to be intubated, she will not be able to speak. Not speaking is the least of our worries if it progresses to this.

Here is what I need to impassionately communicate: all it takes is one innocent-appearing incident. JUST ONE tiny blip. My family was being careful with mask-wearing and social distancing, but then there was the one business-related encounter with an irresponsible third party who did not reveal they were experiencing symptoms that led to this. Yes, everyone was masked up; everyone maintained distance. But the encounter was indoors, and it lasted probably an hour total.

It didn't stop there. Those in the family who didn't know they were infected visited my Mom in her house. Yet even with masks, this didn't protect my her — the insidious intruder found a new home.

If this can happen to my family, it can happen to yours.

Make no mistake: asymptomatic people (including kids) who do not know they are infected are in our everyday presence at stores, restaurants, etc. And there are people who KNOW they are infected, with or without symptoms, who also are in our everyday presence at stores, restaurants, etc. The infected might even be someone you know who either doesn’t know it, or incredulously, actually tells you they are positive only after you are sitting across from them at a restaurant. Seriously, you ask? I found that hard to believe as well, but this is exactly what happened the other day to a client. Unbelievable…

Also heed this warning: a rapid negative test does not mean you or others are negative. There are many factors that can lead to a negative test result. My Mom tested negative on a Friday, the same day the other family members tested positive. We knew this might be a false result, because she was tested about 48 hours after being exposed to the others. Luckily we were able to get a PCR test for the following Monday, nearly six days post-exposure. This is right where she needed to be in terms of timing for a more accurate result.

Thankfully, I was not present during the encounter, so I was not exposed (I actually hadn’t been in the presence of my family for more than two months), but I had to accompany my Mom (separate cars and masked up, of course) to the drive-through PCR test center. I can’t tell you how hard it was to see her after so long and not touch, hug or kiss her. Most regrettably, there were some glitches with her car, and I had to be within a foot of her (all outside and both masked) and touch the inside of her car and the keys. Total exposure time: less than a minute. That night, we received her results: positive.

Now the sh*t started hitting the fan: science has clearly shown COVID-19 is not typically transmitted by touching surfaces. But where it’s an issue is if facial orifices are touched after the fact. So was I careful enough to not touch my mask after picking up the keys? Had I used enough gel and sanitized my hands, properly and in the proper order, before touching my mask? I think so. Did I unconsciously touch my face / nose / mouth / rub my eyes? I think not. Did I wash my hands for 20 seconds with soap and water as soon as I got home? I think so. But am I 100% sure with... everything???? No. Crap.

I wanted to be extremely prudent and thus erred on the side of caution, which resulted in two negative PCR test results, and eight days of quarantine. FWIW, I took two PCR tests because the first test was taken after day three post-exposure, which may have been too early to yield an accurate result. The second test was taken after day 6.5. I was taking my temperature and o2 reading multiple times a day. I wore a mask in the house and stayed away from my wife, who was also quarantining because of my exposure.

The impact of being POSSIBLY infected has been an emotional strain I had not been prepared to experience. Not even a consoling hug from my wife was possible due to risk of infection. As a result, we had to celebrate our wedding anniversary apart, with me wearing a mask at all times outside of a dedicated bedroom, and eating dinner in a separate room. Give that some thought…

My potential exposure from my Mom is way off the CDC’s definition of “potential exposure.” But keep in mind the guidelines only cover either / or scenarios. What about in my case? There are no clear answers discernible online. Thus, we discussed what happened (specifically with me) with two American doctors who recently returned from Hong Kong, where the infection and death rates are extremely low. Their perspective is a combination of what is happening in the US, versus what is happening in Hong Kong. Clearly there is a ginormous difference, not just in the case count and death numbers, but in the confidence level that drives “normality”; businesses and restaurants open, people congregating, etc. They gave us extremely valuable insights into what we should do / what is considered safe. We followed their advice.

Sure, we have all read about other families who have gone through this hell. But we live in our own bubbles of perceived safety and security. Take it from me who has been very careful, not obsessive, and responsible: the veil is thin, almost imaginary. With that said, I certainly need and want to acknowledge how incredibly fortunate and privileged I and my wife are that we were able to quarantine and keep ourselves and others safe. There are so many who don’t have that luxury, who, through no fault of their own, are in dire straits and simply don’t have a veil — daily potential exposure, and even so much worse, is their harsh reality. But let’s face it: many (if not most) of us on this forum are not in that position, which means we really need to do our parts to keep ourselves, others and communities safe.

Please please please: think very carefully about how to spend Thanksgiving and the upcoming holiday season, and make the right decisions for yourself, your family, your community and other communities where you are considering to travel. My Mom's birthday is this coming Sunday, right after Thanksgiving. There is no chance we will spend that very special day with her in any place that is not a hospital or a convalescence facility. And at this juncture, it's highly likely we won't even be able to see or visit her, period. We are hoping and praying we get to celebrate her and the December holidays with a positive, humble and thankful memory of a challenge we / my Mom ALL got through, versus........... a memorial. No joke; no dramatics.

You’ve read it over and over: this virus does not care about you, your family, or your children, but it sure wants to be a member of your family. It also wants to be a member of your community and any community you wish to travel. Please: DO NOT Fxxx AROUND WITH THIS VIRUS.

Because of the tremendous, strong, supportive group / form members that we are, I know I will receive many prayers, thoughts, and positive energy for my Mom, and believe me, she needs all she can get right now and beyond. You and the positive vibes are ALL super appreciated!! Please know I mean this so deeply: if just ONE family is spared what we are going through because of this post, that will bring meaning to the horrible suffering we are experiencing.

Again, please: Be Careful. Be Smart. Be Responsible. Keep yourself, your loved ones, your community and other communities healthy. And be in the moment when you are with the ones you love.

My best thoughts are with all of you, and especially to those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

Thank you for reading and considering my thoughts, situation and conveyed messages.

Wishing you and your families a safe and fulfilling Thanksgiving and holiday season,

1der and 1derGirl
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Old 11-24-2020, 06:20 PM   #2
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In discussions with Ray, we thought it best to lock this thread as a preventative measure to make sure it does no devolve into a political discussion. This topic is too personal and too important to let that happen.


If you wish to communicate to Ray to express well-wishes and/or prayers, please do so privately.


Herb
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Old 11-25-2020, 12:28 PM   #3
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Update from Ray (1der)

-------------------------------------------------

The very slight improvement Mom had yesterday slipped away overnight. O2 levels dropped back. The family just got off the phone with what could be the last time I/we hear her voice. They are intubating and going on a ventilator to give her at least a chance of surviving.

Thank you for all the special thoughts, prayers and positive energy many of you have shared.

Please be safe.


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Old 12-02-2020, 09:01 AM   #4
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Update from Ray (1der). Also, my apologies to Ray and everyone else. Ray asked me to provide this update on Monday, and I'm just getting around to it. Sorry.


Herb

---------------------------------------


Today is Mom's 91st birthday. We have lots to celebrate, yet our hearts are still aching, our emotional states so fragile.

Yesterday, Mom came off the ventilator after 78 hours of intubation. This is clearly excellent news and nearly miraculous. Unfortunately she becomes extremely agitated, which results in her attempting to pull out the oxygen tube placed across her face and into her nose. This requires her arms to be restrained. This is like caging a free animal who has, for 91 years, roamed and explored, journeyed and adventured including motorcycle road trips. In order to reduce her anxiousness, she is lightly/moderately sedated which creates its own set of problems. ICU Delirium is what it is called. It is preventing the doctors from getting her to stand-up/walk which is a very important step in her recovery.

Mom still has a long journey to just get out of the ICU. Her lungs still have to heal. She still needs supplemental oxygen right now. She has to get COVID-19 out of her system. She has to overcome any ill-effects of 3 days under anesthesia. Eight days on her back

We have "spoken" with and FaceTimed her. It is very hard to understand her, and we're not sure she knows what's going on. It was very tough seeing her in this state.

We're hoping beyond hope her delusion is caused by the anesthesia and is just a temporary state. We're all extremely worried about her post-COVID mental health and acuity. Many studies have shown survivors are at greater risks for developing mental issues. The doctors told us that Mom at 91, prior to COVID, was like a 70-year-old mentally and physically. They said she will likely come out of this as her true chronological age. What gives us a bit comfort is knowing that if she's anything like her mother and Uncle Bill, she will still have a very high quality life at 91 and beyond. (fingers crossed)

Even though she's stable, Mom is still in critical condition overall, with the great need now added to focus on her mental state. What's most discomforting is knowing many COVID patients improve and then have big relapses.

Please continue to send your positive energy, love and prayers. She really needs it, we really need it.

Also wish her a happy 91st birthday! Be safe please. Thank you. 1der and 1der Girl
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Old 01-07-2021, 09:17 AM   #5
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This morning's update from 1derGirl

Herb

---------------------------------------


Happy New Year to All!

There is much to relay / convey in this post, and we want to start by saying thank you so much for:

  • Reading our prior posts
  • Your care, thoughts and well-wishes
  • The amazing camaraderie and spirit of the forum members
We were / are so touched by all the heartfelt messages we received from so many of you, including numerous messages that came from members we don't know. We were particularly moved by the compassionate efforts to reach out to a stranger.

While November 11th (the day Mom was infected with COVID-19) is only about seven weeks ago, it seems like light years have passed. The distressing journey of Mom's C-19 ordeal has been a horrific nightmare; a tortured blur of pain, intense emotions, and great fear and uncertainty. It goes without saying things have been exceedingly and profoundly challenging. We came **extremely** close to losing her.

We know all of you have read many accounts of what people have gone through, and sadly, some of you may have experienced something similar to us, with worse outcomes. We never thought this would happen to our family, and we want to share the harrowing details of our story, as again, we hope this will help / prevent others from going through what we went through. Please be aware, and be safe.

Thankfully, Mom responded well to being intubated for a little over three days, and she came off the ventilator on Saturday, November 28th. The next day, she spent her 91st birthday without any of her loved ones, completely unaware of her surroundings, confused, extremely ill and at high risk of passing. Whatever one believes about who the virus severely affects and how much should society sacrifice, we have one simple question: if this were your Mom, who was really sharp and active, would you want her in this situation?

She was in the ICU for 13 days, and in the hospital for four weeks total. For the remainder of her hospital stay, she was extremely weak and still required high levels of oxygen just to lay in bed. Getting up for just a couple minutes made her oxygen levels drop to dangerous levels. She did not have mental clarity, was not eating, did not know if it was day or night (even though the curtains were open), or what day it was.

Imagine, for weeks:
  • Spending all day, day after day, in a fog because any conversation you have with Mom, which had to be coordinated with the HazMat-suited nurses, is so disjointed and incoherent because of her mental state.
  • The stress and frustration of receiving, only every other day, sporadic and sparse information from stressed hospital staff.
  • Wondering if she’d been put through all this just to have her be a fraction of herself, in a mind and body capable of living a full life another 10, 15, 20 years? These numbers aren’t random. Her uncle (mother’s brother) lived until he was nine days short of 110 years old. That number is not a typo. He was lucid and completely with it until he passed. Being in his presence, even just before the end, blew your mind because your eyes and ears couldn’t reconcile his years.
Oh, about those CDC guidelines of 10 to 14 days post-infection means a person is no longer shedding... Consider this: Mom didn’t test negative until December 12, one full month after her infection date. She was still at risk for shedding because of nasal fomites exiting from the oxygen tube, and because of this, she was always isolated in a closed room where only HazMat-suited personnel could enter. There wasn’t a window in the door, so checking in on her was always a major ordeal. This meant she never saw any full faces for three weeks, nor did she hear any sounds other than those coming from her room. She was physically disconnected from her family and from anything beyond her room. Can you imagine this for your Mom or another loved one?

The thought of losing Mom, period, is unbearable, but to lose her to COVID / this experience, without any of us by her side to comfort her, is beyond excruciatingly painful. The thought of her getting through this, but only able to return to a physical, mental and emotional life so unprecedentedly diminished and limited, was equally agonizing.

Most thankfully, in her fourth week of hospitalization, Mom began to SLOWLY improve, and in her typically incredible spirit, she wanted “outta there”!!! BUT... she wasn’t ready. She still required high-flow levels of oxygen, way more than what any home care systems could provide. She was also too weak.

Finally, on December 18th, she was released. While so many families were preparing for the holidays, our family was preparing a hospital bed, oxygen machines, wheelchair, etc., and hoping and praying Mom would not have a setback or worse. There was very little margin for any setbacks in her home recuperation.

In the last couple weeks, we’ve all been taking it day-by-day, celebrating her small improvements. The family has been slowly and gently recounting the many details she simply doesn’t know or can’t remember about what happened, and just how close she came to death's door. It’s astounding, but not surprising to us, that she can’t remember a lot of things about her hospital stay and the week leading up to it. This is not because of her age. This is because of COVID and the anesthesia.

Once at home, she started carefully and slowly walking with a walker, taking great care to ensure that her life-dependent oxygen hose isn’t caught, snagged or crimped. With in-person physical and occupation therapy sessions, she’s slowly learning and making good progress on how to navigate life again.

She still desaturates her blood oxygen when she moves around (which then requires increased O2 flows), but she is spending more and more time without the supplemental oxygen. As such, she still has a very long and challenging road ahead of her, and we are encouraging her to dig deep to find the physical and mental strength required to get back to her former energetic, full-of-life, self.

She is still and will remain incredibly vulnerable for a long while (remember, COVID caused pneumonia in both her lungs). Even a little cold or cough can greatly set her back, and the thought of her getting the flu or re-infected with COVID (yeah, it happens), is a serious concern. Everyone around her needs to wear a mask at all times, and all rooms must have air flow for maximum safety.

We again ask you to imagine: how watching your Mom on a surveillance camera, especially in the middle of the night when she’s sleeping, becomes an obsession due to the great, primal desire to make sure she is okay.

Here’s something to ponder: 1der’s sister, who tested positive (via PCR) and had numerous symptoms in November, was tested again for the virus and antibodies. Both tests, taken four weeks after she was infected, came back negative. The lab told her the test is accurate and resulted in no antibodies because either her body did not produce them, or she had them, and they are already gone.

The past seven weeks have left us empty and spent, exhausted and drained — weeks of lost productivity in all aspects of our lives, simply because the amount of energy it took to do anything was virtually too much to muster. (From 1der: I apologize to all of you who have inquired about seat bases, awnings and brackets sets. I will be back to addressing those in about a week.)

Mom's recovery, physically and mentally, is truly a miracle, and having her back was the best Christmas present ever. We are incredibly thankful to her doctors and all the amazing nurses and hospital staff for pulling her through this.

It goes without saying that we again implore everyone to be extremely AWARE, safe and smart, and to please abide by mask, social-distancing and social responsibility protocols. Trust us, and trust what Mom thinks and feels: you DO NOT want to experience ANY part of this, and she made it through...hopefully permanently and without long-term issues.

Our hearts bleed for those who didn't make it, for those who recovered yet continue to have many challenges, and the families left behind or impacted by survivors. It’s all so, so terribly sad.

We again thank you for all your care and outreach. It is only now that we are feeling somewhat solid again. With Mom heading in the right direction, we are beginning to recharge and become productive. We can finally get some sleep as our troubled hearts and minds are a little more at peace and resting at night.

We end this post by expressing our tremendous gratitude for this incredible journey called life. In spite of all the challenges of 2020, we are enormously blessed, and never for second, do we take it for granted.

We hope 2021 brings all of you and your loved ones a year filled with joy, great adventures (in our rigs!), great health and much prosperity. No matter what challenges we face, we are all in this together and can all make a difference. Just as you did for us.

Thank you again,


1der and 1derGirl
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