These past few weeks my dad has been complaining about how he felt sick. It even got to a comical point, where all he would respond with was, “I am sick.” He went to get tested for COVID, and the rapid test came up negative. He was told he had a sinus infection, but just to be safe they sent off another test to be sure he didn’t have COVID.
Turns out, it really was more than a sinus infection. My dad currently has COVID. It’s especially scary, since he’s had lung issues in the past, and he has another chronic illness that already affects his physical health. My dad isn’t anti-vaccine or anti-mask. He’s actually pretty cautious about COVID, really. When the pandemic first hit, he was the one that made sure we all stayed safe and didn’t go out unmasked. As an essential worker, we all knew that he had an increased risk of contracting COVID. To me it was more of a, “it won’t, but could happen,” rather than a, “don’t be surprised if this happens.” I never really thought it would happen to my family.
That’s what most people say when their family members get COVID, or when anything severe happens, really, but I feel like it’s really weird. My family’s always had bad luck when minor things happen, but with life or death, we’ve always been lucky. It sounds weird, but it’s something I’ve practically ingrained in my head. And after the first wave of COVID, I thought we were completely safe. The world seemed to calm down, even with the emergence of the delta variant.
But now, I’m sitting miles away from home, wondering what kind of news I’ll get the next day. Will I wake up to news that he’s finally free of the virus, or will I wake up to news that my dad is in the ER, in critical condition? Will this be a minor hiccup, or will my life change forever within the span of a night?
I just want everybody to know that the virus is still out there. It’s scary enough when you’re paranoid about who could have it and who couldn’t, but it’s unimaginably worse when you hear that a family member may have it, and that the future is entirely unclear. I already got mad when I heard about anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers, but now it makes me more enraged. I know my dad wasn’t at fault, because he tried his absolute best to be safe.
I’m tired of public health being a debate, when it isn’t a debate at all. The truth is that people are dying every second, and while you may see numbers on a screen, those numbers have people that care about them, and people who are now suffering even more because of the community’s negligence. But of course, you probably still think it can’t happen to you.
Ian Stobaugh is a freshman German major. He can be contacted at 581-1812 or [email protected]