My father, David Thomas Reid, died on January 19, 2022, at age 87 of COVID-19. This is a story of his passing.
It’s not the only story. It’s told from the perspective two thousand kilometres away, by his son. The story as told by David Reid’s friends much closer to him will be different.
But it’s still a story that should be told. That should be read by many people to understand some aspects of the man’s life, of the COVID-19 pandemic, and of how individual choices affect the lives of everyone around them.
COVID-19 delays surgery
A veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Winnipeg fire department, my father had been admitted to hospital in September for back surgery. But the COVID pandemic raged particularly heavily in Manitoba, and the health care system was overwhelmed. As a result, his surgery was delayed repeatedly. Also, he was only allowed one accredited visitor, and that was his best friend, Frank Leswick. Frank was the only person who was admitted to visit my father in person, and who came every day. At the end, it was Frank who fed my father lunch, and who brought home-made food.
Only Frank Leswick was permitted into the ward, because of COVID-19. If I had travelled to Winnipeg, I would not have been allowed to see my father in person.
Instead, we spoke by phone regularly. Through September, he repeatedly told me that nurses told him not to eat anything after supper, so he would be ready for surgery first thing the next morning. But in the morning, he would be told his operation had been delayed yet another day.
It was only after his story hit the front page of the Winnipeg Free Press that he finally got his surgery, which apparently went well. Surgeons fused some of the disks in his spine and relieved the painful pressure on his nerves.
Dad began to recover and started physical therapy. He even began walking again. I could tell from his voice how happy, indeed proud he was of that accomplishment.
The plan was for him to move to another facility that specialized in geriatric care and rehabilitation, and eventually return to his own home.
And then, it happened.
Someone unvaccinated brought COVID-19 into the hospital. My father was one of the first infected, but far from the only one. The hospital had to go into nearly total lockdown for several days.
My father seemed to recover from the most acute symptoms after a couple of weeks, but never fully recovered. The damage to his lungs was too great.
His oxygen levels declined through December and January. A nurse told me about some of his symptoms, which were too gruesome to recount here. His friend, Frank, called me to tell me the outlook was not good.
And then came the day. January 19.
He was gone.
His death came as no surprise. He was, after all, 87 years old. But his suffering was unnecessary, caused by an irresponsible, selfish and stupid person who refused a simple, harmless method that protects thousands.
The lesson from this? Talk to your loved ones as much as you can. Share with them. And do what you can to protect them.
As for what I will do now: redouble my efforts to encourage people to get vaccinated and do all those things that are truly effective at protecting all of us.
Who’s with me?