Restrictions take their toll

One day a couple of weeks ago, my wife Kathy started shivering for no apparent reason.

She’s one of those people whose internal thermostat goes haywire once in a while, so I wasn’t overly concerned. Until she told me right before she went to sleep that for an instant she had the thought that she might not wake up in the morning.

She wasn’t interested in rushing off to the emergency room, though, so there didn’t seem to be anything I could do but pray and hope it wasn’t anything serious.

The next morning, her right leg was swollen up and red and hurting terribly. So we called for the EMS, and she was on her way to the Baptist Easley Hospital emergency room.

For the next six days, she was poked with needles, run through CT scanners and ultrasounds, had a hole drilled in her knee and a tube poked out of it, confined to a hospital bed and awakened every two hours during the night for who knows what.

And I wasn’t allowed to be there for any of it.

Yes, I knew there had been restrictions put on visitation in hospitals because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But somehow, it never occurred to me that a husband wouldn’t be able to be with his wife as she went through this kind of ordeal. I don’t consider myself a “visitor” in such circumstances.

“It is even more stressful because the person I need with me is being kept away from me,” Kathy texted me from Greenville Memorial, where she had been transferred after the doctors at Easley decided she needed more specialized care than they could give. “I know I could get through this if I had you with me and I didn’t feel so alone and isolated.

“It is what it is though. There is no way they will let you be here.”

Now, I understand that hospitals have to be very careful with this coronavirus floating around, and I appreciate them taking strict measures to protect patients, hospital employees and the public. (They tested Kathy for it before she left Easley, and she was negative, thank goodness.)

But it seems to me that a spouse, or one close family member, should be allowed to at least visit, with all due precautions. More dangerous, in my estimation, is that they had COVID-19 patients right there in Greenville Memorial, although on another floor from Kathy. I thought they were all supposed to be going to the North Greenville Hospital in Travelers Rest.

I did a little research and found the news release announcing the latest visitation restrictions. As of May 5, they do allow “one support person per patient” into the hospital with family members getting outpatient treatment. They have to be “screened” and wear a mask and observe distancing rules.

The same policy should apply to inpatients.

But visitors for inpatients are not allowed “except in specific circumstances,” the news release says.

I asked Kathy to check and see what those circumstances might be.

The nurse told her that if she was dying, they would let me see her, “for one hour only.” The nurse ominously held up up one finger to emphasize the time limit.


I know you wouldn’t want friends and family members rambling through the hospital hallways at all hours carrying flowers and balloons and children with snotty noses. But it seems inhumane to keep a husband away from his wife when she needs him the most.

Anyway, Kathy ended up leaving the hospital after they “blew out” all of her veins and could no longer get an IV to work. (She does have tiny veins that don’t like to be stuck. They were going to continue torturing her until they could find a vein, but she couldn’t take it anymore.)

So she’s taking antibiotics by mouth and we’re hoping for the best. She’s not out of the woods yet. We may be back at the hospital by the time you read this.

She was diagnosed with sepsis, which is a life-threatening reaction to an infection that can kill you very quickly. She was told that if we hadn’t gotten her to the hospital when we did, she would have died.

She was infected with MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) a “superbug” that has developed an immunity to most antibiotics. This monstrous little bacteria is a creature of the hospitals, where it keeps getting stronger as it learns to adapt to each new chemical they throw at it to try to kill it.

The health professionals at Easley and Greenville took her case seriously, and I am thankful for that. And, other than the nurses taking forever to respond to her calls for help and a male attendant following her whenever she went to the bathroom, I think they gave her excellent care.

But it was a long week for both of us. And unfortunately, I’m afraid the adventure isn’t over yet.