In the following weeks, we will be sharing the experiences of people that continue to be impacted by Covid-19. These are the lived experiences and opinions of the individuals themselves, not of Covid Aid. By sharing these personal stories, we aim to reflect the need for visibility and to raise the voices of the millions around the UK who continue to be affected three years on from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sally shares her story with us below:
"My Dad tested positive for Covid-19 on January 13th, 2021: his carer and I watched him suffer terribly whilst we waited for an ambulance. Dad was terrified of going to hospital but knew we couldn’t manage his symptoms at home. I was in a face mask & gloves and I’d already been sitting with him for 20 minutes by the time paramedics arrived, so they said yes when I asked if I could hug him goodbye. I knew I might never see him again as, at that time, no visitors were allowed in hospitals.
Within days, Dad was diagnosed as terminally ill with Covid Pneumonia. He & I had already agreed to no extreme measures, but the wonderful Dr Ran ensured that Dad was always comfortable. I was allowed to visit Dad, because he was dying, on Jan 20th. I was in full PPE – gloves, face mask, shield, apron – so Dad could barely see my face as I held his hand, while Dr Ran gently told Dad that he was dying. Despite being 94, Dad wasn’t ready to die – not like this. He’d wanted to die at home in bed, not alone in the hospital.
That day, I tested negative at 12 pm but not long after arriving home, I began to feel unwell and tested positive: I had Covid. Nine days later, my SATS dropped to 83 and I was taken by ambulance to the same hospital as Dad. I was on a ward three floors below him. Whilst on that ward, we Covid patients listened each night as a patient battled for hours before dying of the virus that was also coursing through our bodies. I didn't know what the death rattle was until I heard it night after night on that ward.
We listened as the lone family member who was allowed in to say goodbye, sobbed and tried to talk to their dying mum/dad/brother/sister, whilst other family members said goodbye by video link. The next night, another death, another lonely family member crying. I was witnessing all this whilst gasping for every breath, as my Dad was dying three floors above me. My sister feared she might lose us both.
My Dad fought for a month, on constant oxygen, in a hospital bed looking out through filthy windows. Covid stole his appetite and he became a tiny shadow of who he was. He suffered huge indignity and then died without any of his family beside him. Even in death, we weren’t allowed to say goodbye. Despite no longer being infectious, the funeral directors treated Dad’s body as a contaminant, refusing to dress him in his chosen outfit, and declining our request to see him.
I developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of my Covid experience. It took months of trauma therapy for me to be able to remember events from the Covid ward without reliving them. I still haven’t been able to fully grieve for my Dad.