With all the places I've lived and worked in over the years, I figured that sooner or later, I would
know someone who'd be inflicted with the coronavirus.
I just didn't figure that someone would be my brother.
My brother, Patrick, lives in Stamford, Connecticut with his wife, Imma, and two children.
He's 58-years-old. People who know my brother would say that's he's a sweet and kind
guy who could play a mean-ass guitar. Often funny and sometimes quirky, I've never
heard him say anything bad about anybody in his life.
That life would change dramatically a few weeks ago when he came down with flu-like
symptoms. And of course, with the non-stop coverage of the coronavirus and the record
number of people infected with it, I said to myself, "Good, Lord, do not let this be the
At first, it was the chills and a hellacious cough, which forced Pat to isolate himself from
the rest of the family. Then came the wicked fevers which made him sweat profusely at night.
The alarms were going off and the evil thoughts started to creep into my head. But despite
all the doom and gloom delivered by the media, I was confident, that even if he had
the coronavirus, he would recover from it. The media will tell you that everyone who
has the disease, doesn't have a good ending, but in reality, most do. The recovery rate is
around 98 percent.
After a week in isolation, Pat had a virtual appointment with his primary care physician who
prescribed anti-biotics for a cough that had grown worse by the day. The doctor said he'd
call back on Thursday to check in but never did - so Pat called him to inform him the
cough hadn't gotten any better, it was actually worse, and he wanted to be tested for
COVID - 19.
The doctor tried to assure my brother he didn't have the virus but made an appointment
for him to get a test at one of those highly-impersonal drive through sites.
Pat took the test and was told the results wouldn't be available for five days. Five days?
That's an eternity for someone who is struggling with flu-like symptoms and wondering
if he has the coronavirus. So, Pat went back home and did what most of us have done
for the last month of this shutdown - he waited. But as he waited, his condition got worse,
with more chills, more fevers, and more of that hellacious cough.
By last Sunday night, he couldn't wait anymore. His wife, Imma, drove him to a local
hospital where he was admitted. Because of strict hospital guidelines, Pat had to check
in by himself and stay by himself. No family members were permitted.
Imma had to drive back home not knowing what the hell would happen to her husband.
Needless to say, it was a sleepless night for her and our entire family with all kind of scary
thoughts rumbling through our heads.. I pretty much knew he had the coronavirus
but hoped it would not be a too severe case of it, and he'd recover quickly.
But there was one big problem. An x-ray revealed he had pneumonia and when I heard
about that, I just let out an "Oh, shit. That is not good." The blood test he had taken
after the x-ray confirmed he had the coronavirus. Now I was worried, real worried.
He not only had the virus, but pneumonia to go along with the asthma he's lived with
most of his life. This was not a good combination.
A few days earlier, President Trump told the nation to "brace for the toughest week of our
lives." because there would be a lot of death. We weren't ready for this.
The doctors, well, I should say nurses, because they were the ones who administered
all the care in the first 48 hours, immediately gave my brother the anti-malaria drug,
hydroxychloroquine. President Trump has been touting the drug as a possible cure for
the virus without any facts, while the media has been bashing him incessantly for
doing it because the drug has not been proven in studies that it's effective for the virus
and could cause bad side effects.
I was all for the anti-malaria drug and happy as hell they were giving it to my brother.
Until you have a family member in that condition where you don't know how things
will turn out, don't bash the process. Would you rather have a person get worse by doing
nothing or possibly better by trying something?
One of the most frustrating and excruciating parts of the process in the early going,
was the lack of communication from hospital officials. We were hoping for something
but got virtually nothing. In this day and age of instant information, it was like everything
got disconnected and went dark.
Listen, I totally understand how hectic and chaotic the scene is at all these hospitals
around the country. Nurses are working double shifts under an incredible amount of
pressure while trying to avoid getting infected with the virus themselves.
I get that. And appreciate it. But trying to get some information during a heightened
state of anxiety was brutal. The information wound up coming from Pat, who would
call his wife from his cell, who would then relay the news to me. However, that
was coming from him, not a medical expert, so we were totally in the dark on how
things were really going.
Pat told Imma on Wednesday morning the nurses were giving him oxygen through
a tube because his levels were low and was still receiving twice daily doses of the anti-
malaria drug which seemed to be helping. There were no fevers and the coughs were
less frequent. I actually exhaled for the first time since Sunday night.
That feeling of relief didn't last too long. Imma texted me saying Pat had been given
the experimental drug, Actemra, which I had never heard of. I immediately did what
most people do when they don't know about something: I Googled it.
I was shocked by what I read. Actemra is currently being used to treat patients with "serious
cases of COVID-19 who are marked with pneumonia." My anxiety went through the roof.
Another experimental drug? The case is now serious? Why would they be giving Pat not
one, but two experimental drugs if it wasn't serious?
We couldn't get any answers from the doctors. I wanted to know what the hell was
going on, but couldn't. I spoke with Pat and he said he was feeling better, but, again,that
was from him, not the doctors.
The doctor finally got in touch with Pat's wife on Thursday and told her that while Pat
was improving, his oxygen levels needed to get back to normal before he could think about
So, we waited, And waited.
I spoke with Pat on the cell and he sounded weak - the virus combined with the
powerful medication does that. He let out a ear-curdling cough and I was like, "Is
he really getting better?"
But he was. I spoke with him on Friday morning and he had more energy in his voice
and humor in his dialogue. The old Pat was coming back. I felt good about the path
he was on and was hoping he'd be out of the hospital by early next week.
Late Saturday night, I got a big surprise.
"Pat is coming home!!!!" Imma texted me. I was elated. We all were. Six days
after entering the hospital to be treated for the coronavirus, Pat was going home.
When he got there, he was greeted by his two kids, whom he couldn't even hug because
of social distancing guidelines. But Ava, his 17-year-old daughter, put a big smile on
his face by baking him a cake that said, "Kicking COVID's Ass" - ah, what a beautiful thing.
Pat has to stay isolated as he continues his recovery. He is still not 100 percent but
we are incredibly thankful that he is back home instead of becoming another bad
statistic during this dreadful time.
We are forever grateful for the job the nurses did while giving him round-the-clock care.
They were simply amazing
My brother Pat was very lucky. He's knows it and we know it. We have definitely something
to be happy about on this Easter Sunday.