Jenny called Jason about 1.00pm and he told her he expected to be home in an hour. She told him she could not raise Beryl by phone, and he assured her he would check as soon as he arrived home.
As promised, Jason arrived home by 2.00 pm and immediately went to check on his Grandmother.
“She doesn’t answer the door Colleen, maybe she’s gone out. I called her landline and I can hear it ringing.”
“I’ll get the key and check anyway.”
Colleen put on a mask and gloves then entered the small flat and called out to Beryl. When she got no answer she went into the bedroom and found Beryl in bed.
“Gran are you asleep? You haven’t been answering your phone.”
A groggy Beryl answered “Can’t a woman get a bit of peace around here?”
“But it’s mid-afternoon, why are you in bed at this time?”
Beryl paused before answering and tried to take a deep breath but was having difficulty.
“I’m just a bit under the weather,”...she coughed... “That’s all, so I took some Panadols and thought I might sleep it off.”
“Beryl, sit up straight and just breathe slowly.” She tried but was clearly not breathing normally. As Jason arrived, Colleen asked him. “Can you get my thermometer, stethoscope and blood pressure monitor from our flat; and put on a mask and gloves while you’re at it?”
“Sure, I’ll be right back.”
While waiting for Jason to return, Colleen propped Beryl up with pillows and took her pulse. It was higher than she expected for a woman Beryl’s age.
“Thanks Jason, now can you put the blood pressure cuff on her, remember I showed you how. While you do that I’ll check her temp. After checking Beryl’s vital signs Colleen said, “Jason I’m very concerned about her condition.”
“What do you think is wrong with her?”
Her blood pressure is slightly elevated, that’s not concerning but she has a temperature of 39 degrees. That’s not good Jason, hand me the stethoscope. As Colleen listened to Beryl’s chest, she frowned and said I can hear some rales.”
“What does that mean?”
“I can hear crackling sounds, that means she could be developing pneumonia. A fever and signs of pneumonia are not good signs.” she turned to Jason and said. “Call an ambulance immediately, Jason. Tell them she has an elevated temperature, difficulty breathing and was in contact with a confirmed Corona Virus case over a week ago. She needs to be in hospital as soon as possible.
While waiting for the ambulance, Jason packed a few personal items for his Gran and Colleen continued to monitor her vital signs and make her as comfortable as possible.
“When you finish that Jason, you better call your father and tell him Beryl will be going to hospital, but I won’t know which till the Paramedics get here.”
“Yes Dad, Colleen’s very concerned and suspects she has pneumonia as a result of Corona Virus.”
“Is she speaking, does she know what’s happening.”
“She hasn’t said much, because she can’t breathe properly. Colleen has been trying to explain her condition, but you know Gran, she doesn’t want to listen and says all she needs is rest.”
“Damn, I know I should have insisted she let me in yesterday. We might have been able to get her to hospital earlier.”
“You did your best Dad and besides Colleen’s used to dealing with difficult patients so it’s best that she be the one to deal with her.”
“But I could have called an ambulance and let them deal with her. I should have been more forceful. I should have let myself into the flat and then I would have seen how bad she was.”
“Dad, relax and stop beating up on yourself. It makes no difference now, she’ll be off to hospital soon and then she’ll get all the care she needs?”
“Dad I’ve got to go now, I think the ambos have arrived and Colleen might need my help. I’ll call you when I know where Gran’s going.”
“OK thanks, and tell Colleen we think she’s absolutely wonderful the way she looks after Gran,”
“I will, bye Dad.”
The paramedics agreed with Colleen’s diagnosis and as a precaution treated Beryl as positive for Corona Virus. They were not allowed to travel in the ambulance with her, so Jason followed the ambulance to Prince of Wales hospital and Colleen called Daniel to update him.”
Upon arrival Beryl was taken directly to the Corona ward and isolated from other patients. Jason met his father in the waiting room, but had no further information to tell him.
“So, Colleen thinks she has Corona Virus.”
“Yes, she’s showing all the symptoms and the ambos agreed with Colleen. Now we have to wait for a test I suppose. But they are treating her as positive anyway, while they wait for the results.”
“How could she get this damn thing, she hardly ever goes out and I can’t imagine she would have close contact with anyone that was infected. Could it be from you or Colleen? Have you two been tested?”
“Dad that‘s a horrible thing to say.”
“I didn’t mean it the way it sounded, sorry, I know you wouldn’t do anything to risk your Gran’s safety.”
“In answer to your question, Colleen is tested regularly at work; it’s a requirement. I haven’t been tested because I’ve had no reason to. I’ve no symptoms and not knowingly been in contact with a known case, until...”
“Until when Jason?”
“Gran of course, maybe I should get tested now.”
“You’ve only just been in contact with Gran today. It probably wouldn’t show up yet, would it?”
“Dad...” Jason paused and thought while Daniel waited for him to continue.
“Dad, I was with Gran last week before we went away.”
“But she wasn’t sick then, was she?”
“No not sick but...”
“Dad she had been in contact with a confirmed case of Corona; her friend, I think Andrea is it?”
“Anthea, she lives at Hunters Hill, why what do you know?”
“Gran and...Anthea had lunch at Hunters Hill bowling club a couple of weeks ago and someone in their lunch group had Corona, then Anthea tested positive also and tried to get Gran to have a test, but she didn’t. I even offered to drive her there, but she refused.”
“You mean you’ve know about this for what...over a week now and not told anyone.”
“She swore me to secrecy, but I told Colleen anyway.”
“And she didn’t do anything about it either?”
“Because she knew she was able to monitor Gran more closely and that is why she was so insistent that you check on Gran while we were away. She even cut down our trip from a week to two days she was so worried about Gran and remember she insisted you call her if there was any problem.”
“But you could have told me, so I would know.”
“Dad, Gran wouldn’t let me and she even threatened me.”
“What sort of threat?”
“Well, not a direct threat but she did suggest there might be...unpleasantness, as she put it, if I told anyone.”
“What sort of unpleasantness?”
“She didn’t say specifically, but I assumed she was talking about us being in her house. Remember what happened when you two fell out.”
“I can see that, but just the same, I should have been told.”
“And if you did know, would you have confronted her about it, Dad?”
“OK son, you are right, she wouldn’t even let me in the flat while you were away. I suppose you and Colleen did your best under the circumstances. Now when are those doctors going to tell us something? I wish she had been taken to St. Vincent’s, at least that way we would have someone on the inside to keep us informed.”
“I think they have specific hospitals set up for treating Corona patients and they share the patient load so no hospital becomes overloaded. It can be a very serious disease and patients need specialist care, some intensive care and some even need life support.”
“How come you know so much about this?”
“Dad, my partner is a nurse... and we do share.”
“Of course, I’m not thinking straight. This has got me rattled now it’s so close to home. But it’s not confirmed yet, so she may just have a respiratory issue they can fix.”
“Well, it takes at least 24 hours to get a conclusive test result, so we won’t know for sure until tomorrow.”
A few hours later Daniel and Jason were called to the nursing station where they were consulted by a doctor. He explained much of what they already knew about the testing procedure and that Beryl was being treated as if she was positive and given treatment to assist with the pneumonia.
“Thank you doctor, now when can we see her?”
“You won’t be able to see her Mr. Covid, she is in intensive care and in complete isolation. For the protection of her, other patients and the hospital staff she has no direct contact with anyone not wearing full PPE.”
“Can’t we wear this PPE?”
“No, it is not hospital policy to allow visitors into the isolation ward and limited supplies of PPE are reserved for essential medical and nursing staff.”
“But I need to see my mother. I need to tell her something.”
“I’m sorry Sir, but I’ve already explained it to you. No family visits are permitted. Now I really must excuse myself, I have patients to attend to and other families, like yourself, who want to know about their relatives.”
As the doctor walked away Daniel said loudly, to everyone in earshot “So that’s how it is, they don’t even allow a son to see his ill mother. What sort of society have we become?”
“Dad, I know you’re upset but lower your voice please, you’re creating a scene.”
“I don’t care, I just want to speak to my mother.”
“Dad, stop it or we may be in trouble, I just heard that nurse over there on the phone say the word security. Now come with me and I’ll get you a coffee or something.” Jason turned back towards the nurses’ station and said “It’s all right, it’s all right, I’ll take him away. Thanks for your help.” The nurse said a few more words into the phone then hung up and nodded at Jason.
In the cafeteria, Jason settled his father and before going to get coffee said “Dad, you should call Mum and let her know what’s happening, minus your little outburst. When I get back I’ll update Colleen.” Daniel gave his son a disapproving look but said nothing and checked his pockets for his phone.
Kevin came home from school to an empty house, but just assumed everyone was at work. He helped himself to a snack and took it to his room to start his homework. As he sat down he glanced at the bottom drawer and remembered, for the first time in two days, what he had secreted there. Since his dalliance with Steve, the constant preparation for his HSC had occupied most of his time. He had however, allowed himself the luxury of a few minutes now and then to think about Steve and how good it felt to be in his embrace. He retrieved the ‘Ancestry’ envelope and sat staring at it for a few minutes while preparing himself for the contents. Slowly he opened it, being careful not to damage it and even noting how it was folded so he could return it in original condition and not raise any suspicions.
He read the one page document which said ‘Thank you for entrusting Ancestry DNA laboratory with you requested test. The results are in the enclosed envelope. We send them this way because some applicants may change their decision between requesting the test and receiving the results .This way you are in total control.’ However, there was no enclosed envelope and Kevin thought ‘This is no use to me, I’ll have to go back and look for the other envelope.’ He then called Steve to discuss what he had found. Or more correctly to express his disappointment at what he didn’t find.
“Hi mate, remember last Saturday when you found me on my knees in my room.”
“How could I forget?”
“Yes, I enjoyed it too, but that’s not what I want to talk about.”
“That’s disappointing, I thought you might be praying again and need an angel to satisfy your...needs”
“Steve, the answer to me prayers you may be but an angel you are not.”
“That’s encouraging, now what’s on your mind, besides the obvious.”
“The reason I was kneeling down was to get to my bottom drawer to hide something I found in my parent’s room.”
“Something of your Dad’s you found in their room?”
“No, not those.”
“Well what then?”
“I found an envelope labelled ‘Ancestry’ and I thought it might be about me and my real father. Some sort of certificate or something connecting us, but it’s a DNA test.”
“Wow, that’s cool, do you think your mum had you and your other father compared for DNA, just to be sure? Hey wait, how would she get a sample of his DNA after all these years?”
“I don’t know.”
“So tell me, what did it prove?”
“That’s my problem, the results are not there. The letter says they’re in a separate enclosed envelope, but it’s not there, so I’ll have to go look for it.”
“Do you need some help looking, I could come over and we’d do a complete forensic search of the place.”
Kevin then heard a beep from his phone. “Hang on there’s another call.” He switched calls.
“Kevin, it’s Dad, I’ve got some bad news about Gran.”
“Right Dad, I’m on a call to Steve, wait till I hang up.”
“Steve... I’ve gotta go, Dad’s on the line and it sounds serious. I’ll call you back later.”
Daniel explained the situation to Kevin and he replied. “Bloody hell, that’s a bummer. Will she be all right?”
“We don’t know yet, it all takes time. Jason’s with me, your Mum’s on dinner shift, but I have spoken to her and she knows where we are. Can you tell Christine as soon as she’s home because she’s not answering her phone, but I sent a text and I’ll keep trying.”
“No problem Dad. Can I come and see Gran?”
“No, she’s not allowed visitors because of the risk of infection.”
“Ok, so when will you be home?”
“Probably soon, they’ve told us there’s nothing we can do here and they’ve promised to ring us if there is any change in her condition.”
“All right, when Chris gets home we’ll organise something for dinner.”