By James Mercadante
As my father laid on the couch with gloves, flushed cheeks and a mask that covered his mouth, my mother received a call on her phone.
“His test results came back positive.”
Our family’s daily routine drastically changed on Monday, March 16, which is when my dad started showing symptoms of the COVID-19. With my mother working in the medical field as a nurse practitioner and my father carrying the virus, my two brothers and I had to quickly learn how to be alert in our own home.
Around when my siblings and I came home for spring break, my father was also returning from a surgical training session at Connecticut’s Hartford Hospital. He said that at least 18 other people who attended the training with him had tested positive for the virus. Worried about giving it to the family, he immediately came home and put on a mask and gloves, wiping down everything he came in contact with.
While my father began taking these safety measures, so did the rest of my family. Throughout the week, we made sure our hands were scrubbed clean of any germs, disinfected everything we touched and stayed inside and distant from each other.
While it seemed like the rest of the world was stressing about whether they’d have enough toilet paper, my family was worried about being infected with the virus and spreading it to our community.
However, my mother’s background as a nurse practitioner guided us through this confusing time. As a medical professional, she wasn’t too concerned that my father would not get through COVID-19. He’s under 65 years old and had no underlying conditions.
My father was fortunate in having only mild symptoms for three days, severe symptoms for the next three and then being symptom free for the rest of his self quarantine. He said his symptoms were brutal when they were at their most severe state — he hated every second of the body aches, coughing and fever.
The virus living in our home turned out to be a huge inconvenience in our lives. With my mother working at a family practice, she was required to work from home and see her patients via phone call or video chat. She talks to about 20 patients a day, but my mother is unable to see any complex patients this way, as it is difficult to diagnose someone without being able to physically examine them.
While my mother could work from home, my dad removed himself from work and focused on recovery. He was quarantined when his brother passed away on March 16, and was unable to hug any of his brothers and sisters at the viewing. He did not have the opportunity to grieve in the way he would’ve wanted.
My dad is no longer showing symptoms and is free to roam around the house. He is able to complete everyday tasks with ease again and stays updated on this pandemic by watching the news every hour.
When watching all of this havoc unfold on the screen, my mom, even as a nurse practitioner, is especially focused on the need to social distance and self quarantine.
“If you’re under 65, and you’re relatively healthy — even if you do get the virus, you’re most likely to get through it,” she said. “And if you’re well, your main concern should be avoiding infecting those who are more vulnerable.”