Last week, I had some fun joking about my new boyfriend Gov. Beshear.
This week, I want to get serious.
It’s not to scare you. It’s that I had the opportunity to read something incredibly eye-opening last night and I wanted to share it.
One of our great friends is Dr. Steve Eberly, a kind man, dedicated father and fellow radiologist with my husband William. Dr. Eberly’s daughter, Allie, is an internal medicine resident at University of Louisville Hospital. A few days ago, Allie helped her friend, Matthew, get treatment for COVID-19.
Matthew Jeffrey is 27 years old.
Here is what Matthew posted on Facebook about his experience:
“The past two weeks have been the most difficult in my life thus far, and before I provide an update, I want to express my gratitude for all the kind words, thoughts, and vibes. I am sorry if I have not responded to your messages as I have been overwhelmed by support and need time to heal.
“Yesterday, the lower lobe of my right lung partially collapsed, and my blood pressure dropped precipitously multiple times where I almost passed out. As a result, I was admitted to the ICU and am currently residing there until further notice.
“I want to take a minute to discuss how sh**** this has been in hopes that people will continue to social distance. I know I wasn’t the best at it either, and I should have tried much harder. For the past four days I have been in complete isolation. I was running a 102- to 104-degree fever.
It all started out with what I thought were allergies because I get them seasonally each year like many of you do. Within the span of 24 hours, I deteriorated quickly.
“When the virus reached my lungs, it was game over. Last night, I stood up for literally 20 seconds and it was a major accomplishment. I need constant oxygen to be able to breathe. I have zero control over my bowels, which means I need cleaning up eight to 10 times a day. When my fever returns, I vomit, and I haven’t had a single solid piece of food in three days.
“The isolation takes a toll on your mental health in ways you cannot even imagine. When you are sitting there with a 103-degree fever all alone, sweating profusely and out of breath, incapable of controlling something so easy as bowel movements, it is what I imagine my personal hell would be like.
“Today is the first day where I have felt significantly better! There is still a long recovery road ahead as I still require oxygen and need help doing the simplest tasks, but I’m on the mend and I can feel it. It’s just going to take a while to get there.”
That is Matthew’s harrowing story. We know there are others. And yet, yesterday, I was walking the dogs around our subdivision and passed teens fishing together in a creek and zooming by each other in golf carts. Over the weekend, I heard that Lowe’s was “packed” with people buying, of all self-indulgent things, their spring flowers.
Gov. Beshear has told us what to do. If you still don’t know, hop on Facebook at 5 p.m. and he’ll tell you again.
His message is blunt, and his message is clear: stay home. And then stay home some more. It’s not complicated. It’s not even hard or particularly taxing. I don’t care how extroverted you are, no one wants to end up in Matt’s shoes. And even if you don’t end up as severely sick, you could pass the virus on to someone else who does end up in an ICU — or worse.
Gov. Beshear has another message as well. It is that COVID-19 is everywhere. It doesn’t matter how many cases have been reported according to tests (which are limited and whose results can be delayed). We need to operate as if everyone is at risk. And, based on worldwide evidence, we are.
I believe in the beauty of humanity. Seeing New Yorkers standing at their apartment windows so they can clap and cheer for the health care workers headed for their shift at the hospital makes me bawl. So do Italians singing with each other from their balconies.
God knows, I have seen the beauty of Laurel County. I have sat in your pretty living rooms talking about food and war and childhood and tragedy. I have been offered more cornbread and soup beans and sweet tea than you can imagine. Thinking of that makes me cry all over again.
So, do what you can to protect that beauty. Do what you can to produce more beauty. Believe this virus is among you even if it doesn’t show up in a daily state tally. Honor each other. Protect each other.