Loving a husband through COVID-19

All Woman

Loving a husband through COVID-19

How a wife's dedication saved her husband from succumbing to the virus

Shelly Ann HARRIS

Monday, September 07, 2020

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AFTER enduring days of high fever, lethargy, difficulty breathing, loss of taste, loss of appetite and severe weakness, Bradley James' body was extremely tired, and incredibly, he had lost 20 pounds in less than 10 days. The seven-mile runner had tested positive for COVID-19 after working as a DJ for a party event for some church friends in Florida. He had worn his mask and tried to keep his distance from guests, but sadly he left that mid-June gathering exposed to the virus.

His wife, Kiva, remembers those early moments when they were wondering if he had got infected.

“One of the things he said when he returned home from that party is that he was annoyed that people were approaching him. He had a mask on but I don't know if he was consistent with it when he was trying to talk and pull it down sometimes,” Kiva shared.

“He was annoyed that quite a few people kept coming up to the DJ booth which was separated and distanced from everybody. But as they were drinking and becoming less inhibited they were being more bold and coming and requesting music, commenting and high fiving, and he said he was reminding them to back away, but I don't think they were very cooperative because as I said they were less inhibited — that was on the 13th of June,” Kiva recounted.

Days later he was suffering from a backache which his family thought was as a result of falling during a soccer game with the kids or his medical history with kidney stones. But they were wrong. Instead, it was the beginning of a frightening fight with COVID-19.

“He continued to have the aching on Wednesday and then symptoms of vomiting started. He just had one or two episodes and one bout of diarrhoea and I was like this is not as a result of your falling (in a soccer game),” reasoned the wife and the mother of their two boys, ages 12 and eight years, and a girl, 10 years old.

On the Thursday he started having classic respiratory symptoms and a fever, and that is when they decided to get tested.

“We got the test that day and I remember that evening he got a couple calls from people who were attending that party saying that there were one or two people in attendance that ended up being positive between the time he started showing symptoms and got tested. So at this point we felt pretty confident that this was what we were dealing with while we were waiting on the results. So we contacted people we were personally in contact with between the 13th and the 18th and informed them,” the wife revealed.

Bradley's results came back two days later as positive. At this point his symptoms were progressing — the fever was spiking to around 102.5, he was more lethargic, and started to lose his appetite. With her husband testing positive, Kiva moved quickly to look about the rest of the family.

“His test came back positive on the 20th. I went and scheduled a test and I was able to get in for the following day, Sunday. At that point I had no symptoms at all. And then on Friday, my 12-year-old said he was tired and was going to take a nap. He laid down on the floor and took a nap. He never does that in the day. No fever no nothing. He napped for a couple hours and then he was fine. My eight-year-old son said he was also feeling tired, I took his temperature and he had a very low grade temp of like 99.5 for about 24 hours and that was it, he was fine, running around, didn't want to rest much and his fever was gone the next day. My 10-year-old daughter had zero symptoms, no complaints, acting normal, no fever, nothing,” Kiva remembers of her children's brush with the virus.

The kids were therefore doing well and interestingly, Kiva's test results came back negative. But Bradley's symptoms continued to worsen.

“His respiratory symptoms and lethargy and the weakness were progressing; the appetite was down. He was taking Tylenol when his fever was spiking and he had trouble resting and his back was hurting and I was checking his respiration,” Kiva, a veterinarian by profession, explained. Both Kiva and Bradley were born in Jamaica and have be married for 14 years.

After Bradley's symptoms continued to progress, Kiva, meticulous and forward thinking, started to take effective action.

“At this point I had gotten a pulse oximeter — a finger held oximeter—which measures oxygenation. And that is a great tool because a lot of people won't know when their oxygen levels are falling until it is way too low. Monitoring it early is a good idea and it was like US$20 or US$30 for that so I had ordered it very early. So I was checking it and checking all of ours and we were normally 98 per cent but his was hovering around 96, 97 so he was a little lower than the rest of ours so I was using ours as a reference point. So he was maintaining that until early into the following week when his symptoms (the tiredness, the weakness, a little cough were progressing) and his breathing rate was increasing,” she continued.

The nights were particularly difficult and he had a lot of trouble sleeping. Moreover, his oxygen levels started deteriorating even further.

“I started checking his oxygen more often because it started hovering at 95, 96 so it was slowly dropping still. We didn't want to get below 94 – 93 is when I would get really concerned. So in that early week of the 21st he was having more difficulty sleeping. We were told to practice some breathing exercises,” Kiva said.

“One of things we knew from the beginning is not spending a lot of time on your back. That seemed to me the single most important thing which is kind of the opposite of what most people would want to do when they are feeling this way because they are tired, they are exhausted, and weak. So he did want to be on his back and laying in other positions kind of made it a little harder to breathe. So I had to insist that every few hours he was getting up (which became difficult because he was feeling weak and tired) moving around, so that you're kind getting your lungs moving and doing the breathing exercises. The nights were the most difficult. He would feel a little better in the morning but as the day progressed he would feel tired and it seemed like breathing was tiring so as the day progressed it required a little more effort to breathe.”

In addition to medication and the oximeter, she added potent herbal teas to her husband's healing arsenal.

Join us next week for part two of this inspirational life threatening journey of fighting COVID-19.Send comments to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com or familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com.

Shelly-Ann Harris is the author of several titles including her latest, God's Woman. Connect with her on Twitter @harrisshellyann.

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