Paul’s medical records showed that he had in fact been given Remdesivir as well as Seroquel, an antipsychotic medication.
I just couldn’t bring myself to tell them daddy was gone.
“At the time it was very difficult to get a Covid test, most of the testing locations had been shut down.”
It was a long weekend in January 2022 and our family had been busy with birthday parties, dinner and a show with friends and afternoon ice skating. Tuesday morning my husband, Paul woke with an excruciating headache. He thought it had been from his chiropractic adjustment the day before but felt progressively worse throughout the day. By Tuesday night we were concerned he was showing signs of Covid.
At the time it was very difficult to get a Covid test, most of the testing locations had been shut down and the ones that were open had long lines. Paul was not feeling well enough to sit in the car for several hours waiting for a test. After contacting his doctor, he immediately started taking the Ivermectin protocol as well as azithromycin.
By Saturday he was starting to feel better and was actually able to get out of bed and shower. Unfortunately, this burst of energy didn’t last long and he was back in bed Sunday, feeling worse. Sunday night I took him to a walk-in clinic to see if there was anything else that could be done to help him feel better. The doctor at the walk-clinic said his breathing was fine and didn’t have any signs of pneumonia. She prescribed doxycycline and prednisone as he had quite a bit of swelling throughout his body.
Over the course of the week Paul continued to decline, having very high fevers and profuse sweating at night. He had very little energy, no appetite and slept most of the day. I had been in contact with his doctor, virtually, throughout the week. By Thursday she suggested I take him to get a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia.
Thursday afternoon I took him to St. Joseph’s Hospital - North in Lutz, Florida. Even though I had been taking care of him at home for the previous 10 days, they would not let me enter the emergency room with him because of his covid symptoms. I was furious and did not want to leave him there. I tried to leave with him and take him somewhere else but he was too weak to even stand there any longer. I stormed out of the hospital without even giving him a hug or a kiss, something I will always regret. That was the last time I saw my husband alive. They said they would test him for Covid and that I could be with him if the test came back negative. I waited in the parking lot at the hospital for four hours while they examined him and ran tests.
I finally received a call from my husband stating that he was positive for Covid as well as bi-lateral pneumonia. The doctors wanted to keep him overnight for oxygen treatments and he would be placed in isolation. I think at first he felt relieved that he would be getting the help he needed to feel better. That relief quickly faded over the next few days.
Thursday night he was placed in a regular room and was assigned a hospitalist whom my husband called “Dr. Doom”. When the doctor saw him on Friday he told Paul that his lungs looked like “swiss cheese” and that he was “the worst case I’ve ever seen”. My husband was sick, isolated, lonely and now terrified.
While I had spoken to my husband several times on Friday I still had yet to hear from anyone at the hospital with an update on his condition. I called the nurses desk and asked what was going on, what medication they were giving him and what the doctor’s plan was to get him better. They had him on Rocephin, Zithromax, Decadron, Lovenox, Pepcid, Lorazepam and oxygen. When I was on the phone with Paul on Friday the nurse entered his room and told him they were going to start him on Remdesivir. He asked me about it while the nurse was in the room and I said “absolutely not”, then explained to him the side effects including kidney failure. He very clearly refused the Remdesivir to the nurse while I was on the phone.
Captive With Fear
“ I begged them to let me in and said I would pay for the N95 mask and gear.”
Friday evening I received a call from Paul saying that his oxygen levels had dropped throughout the day and they were moving him to the ICU. I called his nurse to get details about why they were moving him. She said that he would get more individualized care in the ICU since they have a lower patient to staff ratio. His oxygen needs had increased and he needed to be more closely monitored. Up until this point Paul had been pretty pleased with the care and attention he received from the nursing staff. Unfortunately, things changed drastically once he was moving to the ICU.
Throughout the following six days in the ICU Paul’s condition became increasingly worse. I made multiple phone calls daily to his nurses, asking each time what they were giving him for medication. Each nurse gave me the exact same list of medications. I asked them what vitamin supplements they were giving him to which they answered, “none”. I asked them to check with the doctor to see if they would give him vitamin C, D and zinc.
My husband was extremely healthy, in the best shape of his life at 51 years old. He walked several miles a day, biked 10 miles a day, lifted weights, ate an all organic diet and had an extensive regimen of vitamins and supplements that he took daily. Stipping him off his healthy diet and supplements was not helpful. Thankfully they agreed to adding in the supplements. Even though they wouldn’t let me see him I was still able to bring him food. I made him chicken soup and brought him antioxidant tea daily.
I had expected to hear from his doctor at some point but had to request that he call me, which eventually he did. During my phone conversation with his doctor I completely understood why Paul had called him “Dr. Doom”. He was a fear monger and clearly his intention was to scare us into keeping Paul in the hospital. At one point during the conversation he listed off all the medication he had prescribed for Paul. He said that they had given him Remdesivir. When I reminded him that we had both refused it he said, “Oh that’s right you refused it.'' It was clear to me at that point they had given him Remdesivir.
While in the ICU for six days Paul was given little to no care. His gown was never changed, his sheets were never changed, he was never assisted in brushing his teeth, his full urinals were left on his tray next to his food all day. He never received any breathing treatments or ambulatory care, even though he was confined to his bed with monitors. The two antibiotics he was on did not have any affect on his pneumonia and once the prescriptions ran out they didn’t start him on anything else. His oxygen requirement increased daily and he was instructed to lay on his stomach with a CPAP strapped to his face for the majority of each day.
They had tried on several occasions to place him on a ventilator but we both refused each time. My husband lived in constant fear while in the hospital that week. Not just fear that he might die but fear of the doctors and nurses. He was afraid every time his door opened that they were going to place him on a vent. He was afraid if he asked for anything they would yell at him and treat him worse. Most of the nurses were very uncompassionate and short with him, one nurse even yelled at him. I made him complain and insist that she never be allowed in his room again.
Listening to these stories from him daily and watching my husband go through this was heart wrenching. There was nothing I could do. I begged them to let me in and said I would pay for the N95 mask and gear. I told the nurse I would find care for our three children and stay in the hospital with Paul until he was released. He needed me there, he did not do well alone and clearly the nurses were not doing their job. I was denied, everything was hospital protocol. Even though he had tested positive for Covid he was not sick with Covid, he was sick with pneumonia. They were treating the Covid not the pneumonia.
Hope of Leaving
“I told Paul that he needed to just get through one more night and to not take any sedatives that the nurses gave him.”
Thursday morning marked one week that Paul had been in the hospital. I woke up with a horrible feeling and knew I needed to do something to help him or I was going to lose him. I reached out to Nurse Erin who runs America's Clinic to see if she could help me get Paul out of the hospital. She was unbelievably helpful, compassionate and really invested in helping us. Nurse Erin gave me a list of people I needed to call and steps I needed to take that day before it was too late.
I tried not to panic but I could feel how dire the situation was and felt like I was running out of time. I spent the day calling Risk Management at St. Joseph’s Hospital, left numerous messages and never received a call back. I then moved on to calling the Social Services Department and speaking to his patient advocate. After several calls and messages left I finally got a hold of someone. I told the woman on the phone that I was not satisfied with the care my husband was receiving and wanted to discharge him from the hospital and take him home. She said she would pass the message onto someone else.
In between phone calls to the hospital I had tried texting my husband throughout the day. He was unresponsive and this only added to my anxiety. Finally around 4:30pm I heard from Paul, he had been sleeping all day and wasn’t feeling any better. I explained to him that I spoke to Nurse Erin and that I was trying to get him out of the hospital. “Are you crazy?” is what he said to me. The doctors and nurses had scared him so much that he was not only afraid to be in the hospital but afraid to leave. I asked him if he would be willing to get on a conference call with myself and Nurse Erin to explain what we were trying to do.
After the call with Erin, Paul was completely on board with being discharged from the hospital. I stayed on the phone with him and his nurse came into his room. I spoke to this nurse earlier in the day about Paul’s oral and ambulatory care. He was much more receptive to my requests and immediately brought Paul a toothbrush and toothpaste and checked with the doctor about his ambulatory care. While the nurse was in Paul’s room I spoke to him on speaker phone and told him I wanted to discharge Paul from the hospital but needed to speak with his doctors first. I asked him to set up a meeting with his doctors for the following day. He understood my concerns but did feel as though Paul’s oxygen needs could not be met at home. He did agree to speak to the doctors and set up a meeting for me.
I told Paul that he needed to just get through one more night and to not take any sedatives that the nurses gave him. At this point he was desperate to leave the hospital and asked if I would stay on the phone with him all night, of course I agreed. It was getting close to dinner time so I asked him what he ordered for dinner. He said food services had called to get his order but he couldn’t reach his phone so he wasn’t able to order anything.
Throughout the week in the hospital, Paul had been eating baked potatoes and broccoli for dinner. It was the easiest thing for him to chew, swallow and digest. Rather than giving him what he had been eating all along they brought him a huge piece of beef with mashed potatoes and gravy, much too heavy for someone in his condition.
Something Was Wrong
I was still on the phone with Paul when they brought his dinner. He was trying to talk to me while eating and I could tell it was too much. I told him to go eat his dinner and call me when he was finished. About an hour later he called me in a complete panic, he was in excruciating pain and thought it was heartburn from his dinner. He asked me to call the nurse because she wouldn’t respond to him. He said that she had given him something for the heartburn but that it wasn’t working. He had called for her several times but she was ignoring him. I have never heard my husband in this state, it was terrifying.
I called the nurse and asked her what was going on. She said he was having a little heartburn and she had given him Simethicone (Gas-X) and that it would take a little while to start working. I begged her to go back in and help him and to give him something else. I told her he was scared and in terrible pain. She said she had another patient to check on and then she would make her way back to his room. From what I could gather his pain had lasted over an hour at this point.
I called Paul back and told her the nurse would be back in very soon. She did return to his room a few minutes later, he begged her for some Tums or something that would work faster, still convinced it was just gas or heartburn. She did leave again to get some Tums from her purse, which she gave him. She then tried to get Paul to sit up straight in his bed and put his hands above his head, I yelled through the phone to try patting his back.
This went on for a few more minutes, all the while he was screaming in pain and begging me not to leave him. I assured him I was still there and wouldn’t leave him. Suddenly he stopped yelling and the nurse started calling out his name, he had passed out. I was trying to let her do her job but needed to know what was going on. She told me that it was normal for someone in that kind of pain to lose consciousness. From heartburn? Clearly something else was going on. Finally, she realizes it too and decides to run some labs to see if he was having a heart attack. She left him alone again rather than having someone relieve her or bring the supplies to her.
The nurse finally returned about 5 minutes later and from what I could hear started to prep him for blood work. He immediately had a seizure and then stopped breathing. My children were close by and I tried to get them out of the room but they had heard enough to know something was terribly wrong. I could hear all the monitors beeping, his nurse yelling his name and the other nurses entering the room. There was so much commotion and I didn’t want to leave Paul, I prayed for God to take over, my kids needed me, they were terrified, I hung up the phone. I assured them he would be okay, that the hospital staff was right there and they would help him. After calming them down I called the hospital back. The nurse that answered told me they were working on him and that I should call back. About 20 minutes later I received a call from the hospital, the nurse on the phone said she was getting the doctor to speak to me. While I waited for the doctor I could hear people in the background laughing, I was relieved, he was okay! Not the case, the doctor said Paul went into cardiac arrest and that they had been working on him for 20 minutes, he could not be resuscitated.
I begged her to keep working, telling her that he has four children who need him. She told me to come down to the hospital. Now that you’ve killed him it’s okay for me to come in? I continued to give our kids hope even though I knew the truth. I just couldn’t bring myself to tell them daddy was gone. My neighbor drove me and my children to the hospital, she waited with them while I went in. I could barely put one foot in front of the other to get in the door and when I tried to speak nothing would come out. I finally managed to tell them why I was there and they had a security guard bring me up to the ICU.
My Love Was Gone
“They took one look at my face and they knew. My heart broke again.”
The walk up to the ICU was grueling. Part of me couldn’t get there fast enough and the other part of me didn’t want to go at all. My legs barely worked, they felt like jello and the mask they made me wear was making it hard to breathe. I began to hyperventilate and needed to stop half way up to catch my breath. I knew what I was going to find once I got there but I just needed to see him, I had been trying all week.
When I arrived outside of his room, I could see they were still working on him. At this point it was just for show and immediately stopped once I arrived. They asked if I wanted to go in to which I just nodded, there were no words. The nurses put a gown, gloves and goggles on me, I felt like a rag doll standing there as they dressed me.
As I made my way into the room they gave me a chair to sit in next to his bed. I grabbed his hand, put my rosary beads in it and then covered his hand with mine. I was numb, I couldn’t even cry, nothing worked. The love of my life was gone and I felt completely broken. I laid my head on his lap, held his hand and told him how sorry I was for bringing him to that hospital. I was afraid to open my eyes and look at his face, I didn’t want to remember him like this. I laid there thinking about how I was going to tell our children. I struggled with wanting to stay with him and going to be with our kids. I couldn’t just leave them down there wondering what’s going on, hoping daddy would be okay.
I decided it was time to go. I took his wedding band off, gathered his belongings, kissed his forehead and left the room. The nurses tried to put me in a wheelchair but I refused, there was no way my kids were going to see me come out in a wheelchair. Meeting them in the parking lot was one of the worst moments of my life. They took one look at my face and they knew. My heart broke again.
Paul’s medical records showed that he had in fact been given Remdesivir as well as Seroquel, an antipsychotic medication. I must have asked about his medication at least a dozen times over the course of the week. At no point did anyone mention they were giving him Seroquel. After 25 years together, no one knows Paul better than I do. He can not take antipsychotic medication and if asked, neither of us would have approved it. Paul did suffer from anxiety and managed it over the years with a very small dose of Lorazepam which they were also giving him in the hospital, at his request.