By writer to navajotimes.com
(Editor’s notice: That is Half 1 of a two-part collection)
Mary Tom might hear her four-year-old son crying and pleading to see her. He was simply outdoors her bed room door.
Her son was nonetheless too younger to know why he couldn’t be together with his mom, whom he had slept subsequent to each evening since he was born.
“It was so heartbreaking when he cried, attempting to return into the room and as an alternative his dad pulls him away,” Tom stated as her voice cracked.
Tom’s son is her youngest of 4 and the one boy. She has three daughters and all her youngsters are below 10.
It was mid-March and Tom was in self-isolation after being examined for COVID-19. The names of the Tom household have been modified for his or her safety.
“I assumed I’d by no means see it on the reservation,” Tom stated throughout a cellphone interview. “I assumed we had been form of secure, however to stroll into it and contract it …”
All of it started on March 7 when Tom and her household attended a yearly gathering of the Nazarene Church. This was the primary time her household attended the gathering.
Beforehand it was described as a revival. Nonetheless, Tom describes it as extra of a yearly assembly the place all of the congregations in what their church calls the northern zone come collectively to debate funds.
This zone rally included congregations from Forest Lake, Cameron, Kaibeto, Lechee, Shonto and Chilchinbeto, that are all a part of the northern zone.
It was March 7 and the Nez administration was stating there have been no confirmed circumstances of COVID-19 on Navajo. The Navajo Nation authorities was nonetheless operating as regular. There have been no closures and no stay-at-home orders.
The sickness was nonetheless a faraway thought as clusters began to pop up in main U.S. cities like Seattle.
Little did anybody know the primary circumstances of the virus had already began to unfold throughout Western Company. That is the place Tom contracted COVID-19 and commenced her harrowing journey.
Tom is immune-compromised due to a kidney transplant in 2018 that saved her life.
On March 11, her husband began to really feel sick and known as in to work. That is when she began to really feel the physique aches that had been just like when she received influenza A in late January.
Two days later, the Nez administration despatched non-essential govt department workers dwelling for 3 weeks. There nonetheless was no shelter-in-place order and Nez even hosted an in-person press convention on March 13 on the Navajo Nation Museum the place some 30 folks had been in shut proximity to 1 one other.
At some point later in Shonto, Tom was nonetheless feeling unwell and went to the Kayenta Well being Heart’s emergency room. Tom and her husband had been each examined for influenza. The outcomes had been damaging.
“They simply despatched us dwelling,” she stated. “They stated it was perhaps one thing extra viral like a chilly going round.”
Tom nonetheless didn’t have a fever, cough or hassle respiratory.
The following day she attended church in her dwelling neighborhood of Shonto for about 15 minutes. The pastor wished to make an announcement.
“He was saying that the headquarters of the Nazarene Church had talked about that they wanted to start out canceling church service and cease assembly in teams,” she stated.
The following day Tom and her household went to a birthday celebration at her mom’s dwelling.
It was March 16. That is when colleges in New Mexico and Arizona closed. Navajo Gaming met that day to debate whether or not or to not shut their 4 casinos. In-person voting in Arizona was set to occur the following day regardless of the World Well being Group declaring COVID-19 a pandemic.
The Nez administration was nonetheless saying there have been no confirmed circumstances of COVID-19.
However that night Tom began to get a fever and the coughing began.
Simply someday afterward March 17, the Navajo Nation reported the primary optimistic case of the illness.
The following day Tom began to have hassle respiratory. She went to the ER in Tuba Metropolis the place she was examined for the illness.
“It was scary,” she stated by means of tears. “And to suppose, to outlive from getting a kidney transplant to considering this viral illness would take me, oh, my God, that was scary.”
That is when she went into self-isolation and when her signs received worse.
“The ache I’d say was like simply laying right here, physique aches was stabbing ache throughout my physique,” she stated. “Respiration was like when any person grabs you and simply squeezes you. That ache from that squeeze is the way it feels simply to breathe. However coughing was like, I don’t know, one million items of glass going into your lungs.”
She was so torpid that her husband, Steven Tom, needed to wake her as much as eat and drink water.
“It’s onerous for you simply to get up,” she stated. “I bear in mind simply nodding when he requested me if I’m OK however proper after that I’d return to sleep.”
Steven was sick with COVID-19 too however to not the extent his spouse was.
“I’m like that one that is hard,” Steven stated in a cellphone interview. “However I cried. I received emotional however I saved going.”
He needed to. Steven was the one one to care for his or her 4 youngsters and now his ailing spouse.
“I did prepare dinner, clear, sanitize,” Steven stated. “I modified the bedding for my spouse. I modified her garments.”
Steven was additionally feeding his spouse and attempting to get her as much as transfer round.
“My grandparents at all times informed me that it’s a must to rise up if you’re sick. Don’t simply lay round or it’ll worsen,” he stated. “That’s why I used to be telling my spouse, ‘It’s worthwhile to rise up. It’s worthwhile to eat. When you don’t eat and also you don’t nourish your physique, you’ll begin shedding power.’”
Mary misplaced her urge for food and was too torpid to get herself as much as eat and drink water.
Steven continued to observe her situation together with her oxygen ranges. It wasn’t till her ranges began to dip into the low 90s and when she coughed it might go into the 80s that they returned to the hospital on March 25.
Tuba Metropolis Regional Well being Care Company admitted her for statement for 2 days earlier than discharging her dwelling.
“I believe I received over the interval the place you worsen and you then begin towards restoration,” Mary Tom stated.
She’s higher now however continues to be coping with lethargy. She describes it as feeling drained.
“I don’t know why however I had a kidney transplant and I survived,” she stated.
After her restoration, the Tom household is confronting the stigma of getting COVID-19 and its emotional trauma.
Examine this in subsequent week’s paper.
— to navajotimes.com