With the holiday season approaching, I wanted to share my family’s story of hope and gratitude.
I live with my sister, brother-in-law and 9-month-old nephew in North York, just a few minutes away from North York General Hospital (NYGH). Last March, before anyone fully understood the serious nature of COVID-19, we had a Saturday visit with my parents, Glenda, a nurse, and Rolando, a long time bank employee. On Sunday, my mom came down with a fever. A few days later, my dad had one too.
We figured it was probably a cold or flu. As a hospital worker, and since I was also experiencing minor symptoms, I decided to get tested. My test came back positive, which was really concerning.
I immediately told my parents to go to North York General for assessment and testing. Just 8 days after our family visit, their tests came back positive.
My dad still had a fever, and my mom’s symptoms were mild. They drove home and began self-isolating. FaceTime calls were our only contact. It was so hard — you don’t know what’s really going on and you can’t be there to comfort each other.
And then Wednesday April 1 hit. My mom called to let me know that my dad looked pale and his oxygen level was low. Really worried, she called an ambulance and dad travelled alone to the Charlotte & Lewis Steinberg Emergency. My parents were about to be separated for the longest time in their marriage.
X-ray scans showed the virus was severely attacking dad’s lungs. On Thursday, the doctor said that he would be admitted to the dedicated COVID-19 unit, where he would be sedated and intubated (a tube inserted in his windpipe) to assist with his breathing. Everything moved so fast.
Dad FaceTimed my mom, asking her to “tell the kids that I love them”. When we called, he told us: “It’s going to be hard but don’t worry…I’m not scared…it’s going to be okay.”
Thinking he would be intubated for a few days, we learned Saturday that dad’s lung condition was much worse, and we may be looking at a week-to-week or even month-to-month situation. Our hearts sank. Then, we were told that his kidneys weren’t functioning properly and his blood pressure was low. We were so worried. We couldn’t picture a world without my dad.
Dad was put on dialysis, and thankfully, it worked. A few days later, his lungs started to improve, and on April 15, the unit called to tell us he was going to come out of sedation. It was a miracle.
My dad’s ICU team were always reaching out to see what they could do for us. I was worried that my dad would wake up with a tube in his mouth and no family to greet him. ICU social worker Katie let the team know, and when he woke, nurse Jenny held his hand while he watched a video I made of family members saying “hello”. Dad couldn’t speak, but Jenny told us his eyes filled with tears of happiness. From there, his support team showed him my daily videos on a hospital iPad funded by community donations.
After 11 days of intubation, nurse Agnes told me: “We’re so relieved and happy — he’s going to have his breathing tube removed!” That day, April 15, was my mom’s birthday. We’ve never had more to celebrate.
The same day, I got a FaceTime request from ICU clinical team manager, Marina, who wanted to show me something. It was dad, awake and weak, but waving his hand. Then I saw his ICU team in the background — there to witness that heartwarming moment, a culmination of the hope they all had for my dad.
On April 24th, amazingly on his birthday, he got discharged from hospital. We initially thought, if we were lucky, he might be home in July.
Today, he’s working from home and walking 5K a day. He doesn’t remember much, but he does know that he loved the care he received from his doctors and nurses in ICU.
We knew all along that NYGH was where dad needed to be to get the care that saved his life.
As we head into winter, please consider making a special gift to your community hospital. Your gift of whatever you can contribute will have a major impact on generations of families right here in our community. It could make a difference in saving the lives of patients like my dad.
From the Idolor family to you and yours — have a safe and happy holiday season!
Daryl Idolor — a very grateful son