We are ok here for now
Updated: May 13
Henry’s* temperature dropped suddenly. It was 101.0 at 6am, but at 10am it was 97.6 so we didn’t give Tylenol at 10 and the 2pm reading was 98.3. Crossing our fingers that it doesn’t come back up as it had started with a mild fever last week, dropped to normal last weekend and then suddenly shot up to 101 at the beginning of this week. We’ve reached out to his primary physician but haven’t gotten a call back. No other pronounced symptoms, he has at times sounded maybe a little congested but no excessive coughing, shortness of breath or appetite loss at this time and he insists he is feeling fine. We had two staff in the past week call out with what they described as colds. Both were cleared by their doctor and HR to return after a couple days, so my suspicion is that’s what’s gotten to Henry. We are continuing to encourage him to isolate himself as much as possible from others and have him set up to watch his movies in a room on the third floor and maintain distance from others at meal times.
Otherwise we are ok here for now, maintaining morale and emotional health among both frightened individuals and frightened staff is one of the two big challenges. Keeping thermometer covers in the house and restocking general sanitary supplies is the other. We are fortunate that we have the yard for a little extra space for walks to help combat cabin fever. I don’t have a great answer for staff fears as there is always going to be some level of risk of coming into work in this environment no matter what precautions we take, but I’m making myself available to talk and address concerns. So far they’ve been good about stepping up and helping out with the day programs closed and everyone going stir crazy, but as this drags on it is going to become more taxing on us all. If we could lay our hands on a good supply of masks, even if they aren’t the particularly protective kind, it might provide some relief. Wendy and I have been looking. I’m also trying to get a fire stick or roku or something so we can do Netflix or similar both to help entertain the individuals and get the 24 hour news cycle off the TV for a while. Mitchell asked me if we could get a Nintendo Switch as well and we hope to get one donated.
I am ok. Anxious. I’m trying to drop in for a few hours on my day off to help keep morale up and see how everyone is. These are very worrying times and I’m tired and worried like everyone else, but there’s nothing to do about it but keep doing our best for our guys and our communities. My personal biggest concern is making sure my dog is cared for as I live alone with my nearest family a few hours away and I’m anticipating that I’ll be needing to work even more. I recently moved but have dear friends and former roommates who would normally help with the dog only they need to be extra careful because they have a newborn, and I don’t want to be spreading anything from my home to theirs. I’ve left spare keys with them and we will find a plan should it become necessary, but it is hard not to worry about it.
Trying to meet the emotional needs of the house can feel like a pretty heavy weight. Jason needs pretty much constant validation to keep his spirits up and gets a little upset when his favored staff, including me, leave to go home or take a day off. That stuff is not new but more intense and harder to manage in these difficult times when everyone is a little on edge. His behavior had seemed to be improving, but once cabin fever sets in, it could be a challenge. His sister sent him an ipad and he is facetiming with his family a lot which helps.
Henry has been preoccupied with his health and mortality since his father passed on September and the subsequent funerals so you can imagine his reaction to all of this. Even before his fever he was asking me on a daily basis if he is going to die and whenever a staff calls out he assumes they have passed away and I’ve got to explain otherwise. I managed to track down one of his cousins and he is getting frequent calls from extended family which has improved his mood tremendously.
Most of the individuals here are media savvy enough to understand that there is something big and scary going on, but they don’t have a good grasp of the details no matter how we try to explain. There is great anxiety over “getting rid of the virus” or making the “virus go away.” I’ve tried to use that as a teachable concern to encourage handwashing and distancing. The individuals besides Jason and Henry seem to be coping better so far although it is easy to say that with Franny at her sister’s for at least another week. When she returns it will be extremely difficult to keep her in the house as she is so independent and doesn’t seem to understand how important it is to stay in and she likes to go out for lunch. We'll have to strategize about that before her return.
Overall we are hanging in there, as everyone is. These are just going to be hard times unfortunately. We will just need to have confidence in our ability to get through it, there’s nowhere else to go but forward.
Blog post has been written by a manager of one of our residences. If you would like to donate to support Henry, Jason, and other Mercy Home residents, click here. We are having a difficult time obtaining personal protective equipment. Please email us to help.
*Names have been changed for privacy