In early December, I started having “sinus” headaches and sinus pressure. I went to get tested for Covid-19, but it came back negative. This made sense, since I was careful and rarely went in public. So I went on with life as normal. Then, my daughter got sick. My husband got sick. My brother-in-law and his wife got sick. Everyone in our little “bubble of 6” tested positive. Suddenly, we were immersed in a quarantine, trying to figure out how Covid had found us on our remote farms in a town of 287 people.
It really didn’t matter HOW it found us, because it had. I still felt like I had a mild cold and our daughter was well again quickly. Within days of that test, my husband had a fever over 104F degrees and had to sit up all night to be able to breathe. We called an ER doctor friend who walked us through some options and told us when “at home” would not be possible anymore and the Emergency Room would be our only option. Luckily, after three grueling nights of high fevers, low oxygen levels and sleeplessness, he improved. He wasn’t feeling too bad anymore, aside from the fatigue, which I felt too.
We had made it through Covid, no big deal, right?
But then my husband’s 43-year-old brother was rushed to the ER. He was instantly admitted. Then, he started getting worse and none of the “normal” Covid medications were helping. Convalescent plasma didn’t help. Every day was worse than the one before. Eventually, he was put in the ICU, placed on a ventilator, had surgery for a tracheostomy, and even had a lung collapse. He got MRSA pneumonia and basic viral pneumonia too. His leg lost circulation and his kidney was blocked. His entire body was swollen and bruised. This previously healthy, active man was being killed by a virus some didn’t even think existed.
It was so surreal.
It really felt like life should just pause. How could the Earth just keep spinning when our world was starting to crumble around us? We tried to still celebrate Christmas and New Year, but where was the joy?
My husband returned to work. My sister-in-law slowly recovered too. Our kids went back to school. But my husband’s brother, the man who taught me how to ski when I was 14, the man who helped my husband get his dream job and moved us to Tennessee, the man who always put everyone else first, was dying.
Up until that moment, I’d never been in doubt that our brother would beat Covid. But I was worried that I’d never get teased by this wonderful man again. I was worried that I would watch my own husband slowly fade away, losing his beloved brother and knowing the Covid came from us, since we had it first unknowingly. I was worried that my kids would lose an incredibly fun and loving uncle. And I was worried that his wife, my dearest sister-in-law whom I’ve known since I was in elementary school, would lose her entire world. They had not had children, so in love with each other and busy in their adventurous life that the time never seemed “right.” I was worried that my very tight-knit, loud and loving in-law family would never recover from losing him.
How would our life continue? What would become of us? We wouldn’t make it.
But then, it hit me like a slap in the face. When your world starts falling apart around you, you have two options: you can fall apart too or you can keep going and at least fight for the outcome you want. No guarantees, but options; a choice to be made. There was no way that I would fall apart and watch this incredibly kind and wonderful man die. I told myself on a daily basis “Stop grieving for him. He WILL NOT die. It’s not an option. We have work to do.”
Our entire family became frantic for answers. We contacted everyone we knew in the medical field and asked every question we could think of. I read clinical research trials for hours on end. We researched anything and everything doctors were suggesting in forums worldwide. My sister-in-law spent hours talking to the medical care team assigned to her husband, begging them to try anything that had the slightest chance of working. We asked everyone via Facebook for prayers, well wishes, positive vibes, anything that would bring our brother home. We created a fundraiser so that no matter what, he would have the best care options. And hundreds of people prayed for him and hundreds donated. We were given support from people all over the world. People we had never met contacted us to say our family was on their minds.
And slowly, out of darkness came the light.
We all gained our hope back. We started to talk about when he would come home. And as we changed, it seemed that so did the medical prognosis; he slowly got better. Yes, he had good days and bad days, but we never gave up on hope. We never stopped fighting and neither did he.
Today, as you read this, our brother is at a rehabilitation center getting his strength back to return home in a week! The man who was dying a month ago is very much alive and getting stronger everyday. I have not stopped crying daily in awe and gratitude, my complete joy and relief (and that of our whole family) almost tangible things.