I know that my “brand” is Tolkien and fantasy content. Many of you subscribe to my site specifically to see that content, and I appreciate your support!
I will go ahead and let you know that this post has nothing to do with Tolkien, instead it is about my personal and family situation over the past few of weeks. If you want to hear it, please keep reading. If not, I understand completely and you are certainly under no obligation to hear the story.
I will go ahead and warn that this post does involve COVID and death. So please know that beforehand and I would encourage you to not read it or to read it in a way that minimizes your stress and anxiety if this topic is difficult for you. I hope to share something of what I am going through, and I certainly don’t want to cause pain or suffering for anyone reading.
If any of you have seen me posting on social media about my grandparents and my uncle Dan, this is where I am going to share much more of that story. I am still too close to the events to really reflect on them, so this is mostly going to be a recounting of events and information. Maybe later I will have the strength to revisit this and share my feelings, but I can’t promise that.
If you are inspired to help my family, there is GoFundMe that my brother has set up to help pay for medical expenses.
I know that a lot of people have had a difficult, stressful early November. We recently had “the most important election ever” here in America and tension and feelings have been running high for many people.
In the midst of all of this societal upheaval, my family has also been suffering from a personal catastrophe. Unfortunately, this personal catastrophe is all too familiar for many this year who have seen COVID ravage their families.
In early October, my grandmother was scheduling a back surgery because her stability and mobility were declining. At that time she had a cough and was tested for COVID because that is standard procedure. She tested negative. After a few days, she was showing more symptoms of illness, so my mother took her to the hospital. Some of my other family members were also feeling unwell and were already waiting on their results for COVID, but we didn’t think grandmom had COVID because she had just been tested.
On Sunday, Oct. 11, grandmom received a positive test result for COVID. That same day, we heard that of the three other family members tested, one was positive for COVID (a cousin).
Dan, my uncle, took my grandfather and they were both tested for COVID the next day, on Monday, Oct. 12. They both received negative test results on Oct. 15. We were staying cautious, though, because of grandmom’s negative test result that developed into COVID.
Both of my parents waited until Oct. 14th to be tested for COVID (thinking that they may get a negative result if they went too early) and both received their negative results on Oct. 16th.
Also on Oct. 16th, my grandad was showing signs of delirium So they had him taken to the hospital for care. Up to this point, my grandmother was not deteriorating quickly, and we still had a lot of hope that she would recover. In fact, we the family was planning what to do about her back surgery that was scheduled to take place not too long after she had to go in to the hospital.
–I should add that while all of this was going on, my parent’s house was also trespassed into and my father’s wallet taken. We found out that it was a man who was intoxicated. His father had died and the man confused my parents house for his house. He had wandered in thinking it was his own house. My parents didn’t press charges.–
On Saturday, Oct. 17th, we learned that grandad had tested positive for COVID.
From this point on, for both of my grandparents, it was a struggle. Just like the cliche, there were some good days and bad days. Days when there was hope for a full recovery, and days when we knew they would never come home.
On Oct. 20, my grandmother needed to go to the ICU, but there were no beds available. They had to transport her to a different hospital. They managed to take her to the hospital where my grandfather had been admitted.
My brother was tested for COVID on Oct. 21, out of an abundance of caution. Also, a second negative test result came back for my mother. Even though Dan’s test was negative, he started feeling ill and he had a fever, so he was self-quarantining.
On Oct. 25 my mom, as the designated visitor to her parents, started being able to visit them in the hospital. I know this was a great comfort to her, and I am sure it was also a comfort to her parents. This was the day that grandmom made it clear that she did not want to go on a ventilator.
On Oct. 26 Dan went back to the hospital. He had a high fever overnight, shortness of breath, and tightness in his chest. He went to the ER and had Pneumonia. They gave him some medicine and sent him back home.
On Oct. 27, grandad was transferred to the ICU because he couldn’t keep his oxygen levels up. Dan was managing pretty well at home, and grandmom had come to terms with death. She had started telling my mother that she was ready to “go home”.
On Oct 27, we had a moment of happiness:
Since both of my grandparents were in the same ICU, the medical teams made it possible for them to spend two hours in the same room. My mother was also there.
During this time, Dan was still at home managing a high fever and pneumonia. On Oct. 28th, Dan went back to the hospital because his symptoms were getting worse. They changes his medicines and admitted him to the hospital.
On Oct. 29th, Dan was moved to the ICU and placed on a ventilator. On Oct. 30th, they placed Dan on an ECMO machine.
On Oct. 31st, my mother FaceTimed her children and grandchildren from her mother’s hospital room. I am so grateful that she gave us the chance to say goodbye to our grandmother. Dan seemed to be doing well on the ECMO machine today.
Oct. 31st is my dad’s birthday, so on Nov. 1st, we all visited each other in a Zoom meeting. This was such a welcome chance to interact with each other and be happy where we have had so much sadness lately!
Also on Nov. 1st, it looked like grandad was going into ARDS, grandmom was in end-of-life care, and Dan was stabilizing on ECMO.
On Nov. 3, at 3:04 AM, my grandfather died.
On the same day, my grandmother was still slowly declining and Dan holding stable and sedated. This pattern would continue for a few days.
On Nov. 7th, at 11:51 PM, my grandmother died.
Dan is still sedated on ECMO as I write this post.
I hope to come back and give updates when I have something else to share. I won’t write another post (unless people tell me they want another post), I will just edit this page with any additional information.
We have been fortunate in that our community has taken notice of our hard times and rallied around us.
Some newspapers and TV stations have already covered the story:
My mom was interviewed on News Channel 5
My brother was interviewed on News 4 Nashville and WKRN
An article about our story appeared in the Williamson Homepage
Three restaurants have agreed to have charity events to support Dan’s care, and dozens of people have already given money to help us cover all of the medical expenses from the past month.
If you would like to help us cover Dan’s medical expenses, please use our GoFundMe Page.
Update on January 1, 2020:
I have not had the strength to update this page until now. A month ago today, Dan also passed away from COVID-19.
It is easy to understand the death of my grandparents, even if it is difficult to deal with their loss. They were older, they already had several health issues.
The loss of my uncle is crushing and inexplicable. My sister-in-law- said it best when she said that it is “unfair”.
It hurts because he was so young, he was 49. It hurts because he leaves behind so many people who he was still in the process of helping, like his daughter who is in college. It hurts because what killed him was a pandemic that took advantage of his desire to care for his sick parents.
Please protect your loved ones. With this pandemic, that means care for the people in your bubble, and do not visit with other friends and family. I know it is hard, it is so hard. All we want is to be with the people we care about. This virus feeds on our desire for community and interaction. Yes, this distance has many negative consequences, but the sacrifices are so worth it to keep your friends and family alive.
I will end this post with the obituaries of my grandparents and my uncle. I will also end it with a plea to please wear your mask, please wash your hands frequently, and please avoid indoor social gatherings. I do not want any more families to suffer what so many already have.
Ray and Jean Hester’s Obituary