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“If not for COVID, she would still be alive and enjoying her retirement.”

The words
By Judith Lewallen

Anchorage, AK
United States

It wasn’t COVID, but I believe it was COVID that killed my sister.

On January 1, 2020, she retired from her long-term job in finance and was excited to relax and enjoy life. She started volunteering as a “Pink Lady” at the local hospital two days a week, doing her own yard work, taking care of her little dog, and doing all the things she loved. She was content living alone. She had friends in her little town that she visited with, had lunches, outings, and shopping trips.

Then COVID hit in March 2020. Her volunteer job ended, her shopping trips ended, her lunches with friends ended, and what was left was staying at home with her little dog. She had a medical history of diabetes, hypertension, and a long history of tobacco use.

I am her sister and a family nurse practitioner, but I live out of state — way out of state, 3,000 miles away. I called her weekly and noticed changes in May — she complained of not caring any more about living and had stopped her medications. I got her to go to her provider, who started her on an antidepressant, did some tests, and changed her other meds. She got better and things were going along as best as we could expect.

She discussed the possibility of getting COVID and she was doing all the right things to prevent contracting COVID. She told me she never wanted to be put on a ventilator and wanted no heroic measures if she got it. Then in September 2020 she again sounded depressed and I asked her to talk to her provider; she said she would. Within the week she had collapsed at home with a heart attack and stroke and an extremely elevated blood sugar. She was intubated by EMT at her home and placed on a ventilator at the hospital. She never recovered.

Her death will not be counted in the COVID tally of deaths and she will not be included in any COVID memorials. But I believe, if not for COVID, she would still be alive and enjoying her retirement.

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