by Krista Huey
photography by William Zeus Hardy
I never thought COVID-19 would affect me personally. I thought that it was something you only hear about on the news—something you hear on the radio as you’re driving to school, and then it passes without affecting you. I was completely wrong, COVID-19 entered my life like an unwanted visitor who would not leave, even when asked numerous times.
During April 2020, I was driving with my grandpa to take him to his weekly dialysis appointment. I picked him up from his house at 9 a.m. and noticed he looked a little sluggish. I asked him whether he were feeling all right, and he brushed it off and said he was just tired from the day. Knowing my grandpa, a strong Korean War veteran who has survived every obstacle thrown at him, I believed his response and didn’t pursue any further questions. Shortly after, as we continued driving to the dialysis center, I peeped into the rear view mirror and saw my grandpa looking even more drained than before. It was then when I started to feel nervous about his well-being. I started to hear him cough and then pulled over to check on him. I felt his forehead. It was hot, and I started to panic. I rushed him to the hospital, trying not to think the worst. I checked him into the emergency room and was sent home to await the results of their tests.
Three hours passed and anxiousness filled my mind. My phone started to ring, and I nervously answered. My heart dropped as I listened to the nurse deliver the results from my grandfather’s tests. Positive for COVID-19. Tears rushed down my face as I digested the results. I felt angry that my grandpa had to battle COVID-19. My mind started to plummet as I thought of the survival rate of elderly people who are diagnosed with COVID-19.
Weeks went by, and I saw my grandpa’s health deteriorate. At first, he looked normal and healthy, but in the blink of an eye, it became difficult for him to breathe. He had a fever, headache and the chills. I could hear my grandpa struggling to breathe as the virus took over his body. Soon after, he relied on a metal oxygen tank to survive and had to drag the tank with him everywhere he went. The tank was his lifeline and was what he gripped onto to survive. Every day, I felt uncertain about his health and what was to come. Weeks passed, and slowly I started to see him get better. He was breathing normally and life was restored in him. It was a miracle to my family—my grandpa was 94 years old and beat COVID-19. Joy showered our household, and we were at ease to know that my grandpa got the unwanted visitor out of our household.
With the good family fortune, we started to appreciate and embrace my grandpa’s presence even more than before. COVID-19 was a wake-up call to appreciate him and the contributions he has made to our family. I began to spend more time with my grandpa by eating meals with him, watching TV and taking him to his appointments.
However, not all good moments last because a month after my grandpa’s recovery, we found out my dad was diagnosed with COVID-19. Just when we thought we got rid of the unwanted visitor, he was back knocking at our door. My dad found out he caught COVID-19 from his workplace after a job outbreak.
I clearly remember the morning when we found out. My dad felt symptoms so he decided to get tested at the clinic. Then, on a Monday at 8 a.m., our home phone rang, and I answered it because no one else was up yet. It was a woman asking for Darren. She said she need to speak with him regarding his COVID-19 test. I immediately felt the same feeling I did when I found out about my grandpa. My stomach dropped, and I started to think the worst. I knew my dad had COVID-19 because the nurse wouldn’t call unless he was positive. I woke up my dad and passed the phone to him. I watched his face as he spoke with the nurse and saw the color of his face change. He was positive. It became a life battle for him, but he survived.
Immediate panic swarmed into my family with the positive results because we all were in contact with him. I was especially anxious because I thought I was infected and was worried for my father. My entire family immediately went to get tested the same day, and we waited for three days in quarantine, anticipating the results. None of us was hopeful because of our close contact.
Then the results came in the mail, and we uneasily opened our envelopes.
Negative—we all were negative.
Joy spread in the household, but we didn’t understand how this was possible. We all were in close contact with my dad, yet none of us had it. However, we knew that this could be a false test and tested again for safety measures. We continued to quarantine for two weeks until our second test results came back. Negative again — we still were negative after the second test. After receiving the second results, we felt reassured of our health and isolated in different houses.
COVID-19 took over my family and lurked in the hallways of our house. We were never sure who would be next, but, fortunately, my brother, mom and I were saved. Seeing the effects it had on my grandpa and father were difficult to watch as we were concerned about their fate. However, my family prevailed against COVID-19 and grew stronger. We now appreciate each other’s place in our family more and try to spend time with each other every day. It has brought us closer, and we now treasure our family bond even more because of COVID-19’s unexpected impact. ■