The Present: November 27, 2020.
Burbank is a part of Los Angeles, but with its own government. Home to Warner Brothers, the Disney Company, the old NBC Studios, where the Tonight Show originated for generations, and various film & TV production companies and ancillary services.
With a strong tax base, the city of over 100,000 is able to keep the lights on and the streets paved better than most of Los Angeles.
Its main hospital, Providence St. Joseph’s, is located directly across the street from Disney headquarters.
As a Catholic hospital system, it should’ve been no surprise to William that the intake nurse asked if he would like to have a priest give him the anointment of the sick.
“Wait, am I dying?!” he said as he struggled not to cough and remember the order of the sacraments from Catechism as a lapsed Catholic.
“No. You don’t have to be dying to receive the anointment any longer. Don’t worry.”
William could see from her reaction that he wasn’t the first to balk at the offer.
He had gone to the busy ER on the direction of his doctor, who he had called first, as instructed by city officials.
He had a couple of underlying conditions and had been suffering from high fever, headache and a cough that wouldn’t quit. Earlier that morning, he woke up not being able to catch his breath. He knew it was time to call.
It took him almost 40 minutes to finally speak to the nurse practitioner about his symptoms. After a brief consult with his doctor, he was asked a few questions to ascertain whether he needed to call an ambulance.
He would end up driving himself after dropping off his senior dog to his next door neighbor.
The 15 yr old dog was acting differently since William got sick, lying up against him closely and trying to lick his face often. He whined as he watched William leave him behind.
His dog was just about the closest William had to a best friend or family member in the city or just about anywhere else. He thought of his dog a lot as he laid in the hospital bed, hacking his lungs out, worried about who would take him if he died in the hospital from this virus.
He tried not to cry thinking about the possibility of death, partly because he didn’t want someone to see a 6′ 3″ fat man-baby having a nervous breakdown. It was hard holding it back. He could feel it all bubbling and roiling under the surface.
Whenever one of the nurses goes above and beyond to do something nice for him, he has to fight the urge to cry. The thought of a stranger behaving in a selfless manner is too hard for him to accept.
Ten months into the fight against the Coronavirus has led to some effective treatment options which has reduced the fatality rate and helped ease the demand on the healthcare system.
But, he was still in danger. People with comorbidities like William were still subject to the possibility of his immune system kicking into overdrive and drowning him to death in a cytokine storm, one of several medical terms everyone had learned in the year of Covid-19.
The medical team on his case, including the infectious disease expert, were confident William was admitted in time to avert the worst case scenario after getting him on the triple cocktail approved by the FDA.
They put him on a converted CPAP machine with oxygen to help him breathe better and maintain a healthy oxygen saturation level.
Some other pills they gave him helped with the fever, aches and pains and coughing, allowing William to finally fall asleep relatively easily for the first time in five days.