About 10:30 the direct line at my desk started ringing. I looked down and saw my dad's name on the caller ID, and immediately knew something was wrong. My parents never call me at work. I answered the phone with a great deal of trepidation, knowing that whatever they were calling for couldn't be good.
It was my mom. "Jennifer, you've got to come home. Can you come home?" I asked her several times what had happened. All she would say is that my dad had been taken off in an ambulance and to please "come home" right now. She soundly oddly calm and but wouldn't give me any details.
I was sure my dad was dead.
The secretary saw my face when I went looking for the principal to tell him I had to leave. She said, "Mrs. Barlow, what's happened?" "I think my dad may have just died" I replied. By then I was having a hard time breathing and was walking in circles, feeling confused and just in shock. I'll give the office ladies credit here. Even the two who have been so rude and unkind lately were immediately there, offering to drive me home or to call my husband to come get me, asking what they could do, telling me they would be praying for my family. The principal and one of the assistant principals reached out to offer support last night, too.
My mom called my cell when I was on the way to her house, and that's when I found out that dad (probably) wasn't dead, but had been close to it when the ambulance took him away. He had collapsed and was unconscious (he has congestive heart failure and several other serious health problems) after several days of being much sicker than usual. Then she explained that she couldn't go up to the hospital to check on him because she was sick too. Sick with a "chest cold", diarrhea, and a fever. (You can probably guess where this is going).
When I got to the hospital dad was still in the emergency room receiving stabilizing treatment. He really was on the verge of death when the ambulance picked him up. His blood pressure was bottoming out, his oxygen levels were dropping, and they suspected sepsis. He was slowly coming around when I got there, so I got to talk to him and tell him I loved him. I stayed for a couple of hours and then went home (after leaving my number with the ER nurse supervisor and getting her promise that they'd call if anything changed). They finally got him admitted to the hospital around 6pm last night.
When I first went in to see dad yesterday I was wearing a regular paper mask, but the first time he started coughing I went to the nurse's station and asked for an N-95. That turned out to be a good decision. This morning my mom called to let me know that he tested positive for Covid despite the fact that he got vaccinated back in March. When you consider that he's in end-stage congestive heart failure to begin with, this might be deadly. My mom is at home and almost certainly has Covid, too. She's diabetic so that's not good, and her cough sounds terrible over the phone. She's going to be lucky if she doesn't end up in the hospital alongside dad.
All I can do is wait at home to hear any news. Dad won't be allowed any visitors and mom is going to have to quarantine for the next couple of weeks. It's all very worrying.