“We’re always together and now I feel they took him away from me”

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Precisely at the most difficult time in her husband Dov’s life, Judith Goldberg cannot be there by his side. For three weeks now, he has been hospitalized in critical condition in an isolated ward after falling ill in Corona, and Judith does not know her soul from longing and worry. “We’re always so together, one inside the other, and now I feel like they took it away from me,” she shares. “We only call on the phone. I tell him about the children and grandchildren, I kiss him and tell him all the time that I love him. It’s a hallucinatory and terrible movie that fell on us.”

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The difficulty that Yehudit describes is just a glimpse into the experience that hundreds of families of severely corona patients are going through these days. To the anxiety for the fate of their sick loved ones is also added the detachment – which was forced on them at a time when they most needed family support. Access to ward visits is not regularly allowed, and families and medical staff are forced to improvise solutions to maintain contact.

This connection is also important to alleviate on the one hand the loneliness of the patient, who in addition to his physical condition faces mental difficulty when all his lovers are away from him – and on the other hand to alleviate the natural concern of families, which only increases when they can not be physically by his side. Even when the patient is anesthetized and resuscitated, staff do not give up the interaction of families with him – and they play him relatives over the phone, hoping that something is penetrating his mind and providing him with the support he so desperately needs.

Hanina Farber and his wife Rebecca

“We are three brothers and the social worker calls us every morning and uploads us for a video call,” said Tali, the daughter of Hanina Farber (73) from Ramat Gan. Hanina is anesthetized and respirated at Sheba Tel Hashomer Hospital after falling ill in Corona. “She really takes care of it every day and we talk to him. He obviously can’t answer us, but the staffs claim he hears. She gives us the time each of us will talk. She even suggested we play him my brother’s little girls and make him some playlist. With songs he loves and promised to play them for him. ”

Galia Orr, a social worker in the Corona Intensive Care Unit in Sheba: “Many times they ask me to put my hand on the patient, sing him songs and read Psalms”


Hanina, who suffered from lung disease even before she contracted corona, began having difficulty breathing about two weeks ago. “We didn’t think it was Corona, because we kept it,” Tali said. “We did not leave the house, we did not let the grandchildren enter the house, we were very careful to keep our distance and avoid hugs. Therefore we do not know the source of the exposure.”

After Hanina was diagnosed his entire family was forced into isolation while he was hospitalized in the Corona Intensive Care Unit. “Of course it’s very difficult for everyone to be locked in their room, with no ability to be for each other, caressing, hugging, while he’s there, anesthetized. We might not have helped him if we were next to him – but at least there was a feeling we had some control. “I wait every day for the social worker’s phone, and I hope he really hears everything we tell him.”

Hanina Farber with his wife Rivka and daughters Tali and Shimrit
Hanina Farber with his wife Rivka and daughters Tali and Shimrit

This social worker is Galia Orr, who explained: “The parts we identified as most important to the families of the Corona patients are the need for information and the possibility of closeness. “With a big mask that covers the whole face. So this minimum, that family members have a conversation with and sometimes hear him mumble or say a word, is a very big difference compared to just hearing about his medical condition.”

Orr, who works in the intensive care unit for corona patients in Sheba, added: “Even with breathless patients, who do not communicate, it is very important for family members to see the blink of an eye or the facial expression. “.

Social worker Galia Orr
Social worker Galia Orr

Beyond the disconnect, another factor present in the coping of the families of the severely corona patients is a sense of guilt, and sometimes even shame. “They say, ‘But we kept it that way,'” Orr said. “Many times they are also blamed outside, especially if they are from the ultra-Orthodox sector, and they face stigma. The social aspect here takes over the private and the personal.”

Yitzhak Ohavi (69) from Tel Aviv is also hospitalized in critical condition in the corona ward in Sheba, although he has no background illnesses. “Our father is a very healthy person in general,” said his children Meirav, Tomer and Eran. “It started with the usual signs of fatigue and coughing, and then the fever started and he started to feel very bad at the level of inability to get out of bed. He came to the emergency room consciously, talked to us and his condition seemed relatively out of control, “Anesthesia and respiration are needed. Later, his condition improved, but he is still breathing.”

Isaac Lovers
Isaac Lovers

“Because it was impossible to get close to him, the feeling was terrible,” his children shared. “It’s a sense of helplessness and uncertainty. We recorded songs for him and put a small tape with headphones on him every day for an hour. We even wrote on a page the names of the family members – and the brothers who were there would read them and tell him we gave him peace, let him know we were thinking of him. We don’t know how much it helped, but it was an attempt to get closest to the father who gave a glimmer of hope. ”

Isaac Lovers
Isaac Lovers

“At Corona, we learned that even a patient who seems to many doctors to be stable, happy and calm blue can deteriorate in three hours and become a critical condition patient,” explained Dr. Avshalom Leibowitz, director of the internal medicine department at Corona Intensive Care Unit in Sheba. Defined as difficult, defined as such in Corona – because of the surprise, because of the instability, because of our inability to assess and because of the lack of experience in the new disease. They are seen from the side in a light state, but they are in a state that can be on the brink of an abyss many times – and it is difficult for us to predict that. ”

“Every day we talk to him. Of course he can not answer us, but the teams claim he hears.”


“Compared to the first wave, we have a bit of patience,” Dr. Leibowitz added. Today we are more conservative because we know that the soul is not always necessary, and if you are already breathing someone – it is very difficult to reward him. We wait longer and try as little as possible to feminize the men. Also the general impression is that this time things are less turbulent. We do not know whether it is because the virus has changed, because we know how to treat it better or because the patient population has changed a bit. ”

Dr. Carmel Aviad, a physician specializing in the corona ward at Hillel Yaffe Hospital in Hadera, said: “We try to do our best – but with one hand tied behind our back. “Unlike many other diseases, which can always be seen as a trend, I learned here that I can not fully anticipate where it is going.”

Dov and Yehudit Goldberg
Dov and Yehudit Goldberg

Dr. Aviad elaborated: “A person who looks fine can arrive and I think I can release him the next day home, and then I see within a few hours that there is aggravation, or vice versa. Plus, I have almost no physical examination, which is something that in internal medicine is very dominant. This is a completely different kind of medicine. On the social side – we become everything for the patients, because there is no one else. They are alone there and a phone call is not enough. ”

“This is a big upheaval,” concluded Yehudit, whose husband Dov (72) is hospitalized in the Corona ward in Hillel Yaffe. “The breakup was very difficult for both of us. He came in alone and I drove home. I’m just waiting for him to get out of there.”



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