Saadat could not breath, and his fingers and lips were turning blue. His wife, Jessica, rushed to call 911. Meanwhile, she quickly collected his insurance card and checked her valet for money. Jessica could see her husband trying harder to breathe. The room was quiet except when Saadat made an unusual sound trying to suck in some air.
Within five minutes, there was a knock at the door. Jessica quickly leaped to the door to open it. She saw three men wearing white jumpsuits, face shields, goggles, and blue gloves standing at the doorway. “Who are they? Aliens?” She thought for a moment. They checked Saadat’s forehead for temperature. It was somewhere over 100oF. They brought the stretcher in and carefully put Saadat into the ambulance.
Jessica started locking the front door but heard, “No, you are not going with him.”
Her heart sank, and tears welled her eyes. She quickly took control over her pounding heart and told her husband that he would be fine. The healthcare worker suggested giving him his cell phone, so both could be in contact.
Saadat was a tall, handsome man with a bright red complexion. But this week-long flu has made him pale and weak. Jessica, on the other hand, was a medium-sized, delicate woman. The husband and wife duo worked in double shifts to make ends meet. It is difficult to make a living in New York City.
Jessica came into a now empty apartment. Her mind was overwhelmed with fear and anxiety about the future. She knew she was the source of strength for Saadat. “Will he be able to make it without me? What if he could not?” As these thoughts started to haunt her, the phone rang.
“Hi, Can I please talk to Jessica?” said an unfamiliar voice.
“Yes,” Jessica replied, trying her best to sound confident.
“I am Nancy. I am a social worker at The West River Hospital. Your husband Mr. Saadat Ali was brought in here. We have admitted him.”
“Can I come and see him now?” Jessica asked.
“I am afraid not. Saadat is under observation right now. He has asked us to call you,” Nancy replied.
“Alright, thank you.” Jessica said.
This call was somehow comforting, but she was going down memory lane now. She was thinking about all the hard times she and her husband went through together. She recalled the time when Hurricane Harvey struck Houston and they moved to New York City to start life from scratch. She remembered the two back to back stillbirths and when Saadat lost his job. No matter how difficult times were, she recollected and grasped that they both have always stuck together in thick and thin. “This, too, shall pass,” she whispered and headed to bed to sleep.
The next morning, after a restless night, she woke up early. She thought to go to the hospital and check on her husband, then go to the unemployment assistance office. When she arrived at the hospital, she was told she would not be allowed to see her husband because he was under observation. Despondently, she went to the unemployment assistance office to submit her unemployment application.
Jessica worked as a waitress. Due to the lockdown, the restaurant closed, and she was asked to go back home. Saadat, on the other hand, was lucky as the department stores were one of the few places still open.
After three days, she got a video call from Saadat. “I can breathe,” said Saadat as his face lit up upon seeing Jessica after a long time. He had an oxygen tube stuck to his nose. A nurse was holding the phone for him. He told her that he was diagnosed with coronavirus and was being kept in an isolation ward. He was on oxygen for the time being. All the health care professionals were carefully observing him, and he was in good hands. He started to get breathless. Before turning off the phone, he asked Jessica to stay in contact on the phone. Later that day, Jessica was asked to go to the nearest testing center to give her sample for COVID-19. She was also to stay in quarantine for 14 days because she was in contact with a coronavirus positive patient.
Then, Saadat and Jessica started to talk on Facetime. It reminded them of the long-distance relationship they had after getting engaged when Saadat had to go back to Egypt for a few months to see his parents. They often joke about it. Meanwhile, Jessica’s test came out negative. It was a moment of relief for the family.
Slowly, Saadat started to recover. His temperature remained below 100oF. He could breathe without oxygen while maintaining his blood oxygen levels. With time, he was discharged from the hospital and sent back home. He was asked to stay in isolation until his symptoms completely went away. Throughout this period, his doctor was in touch with him via video call. He was improving day by day. Saadat was asked to drop his samples to the testing center. Both husband and wife were asked to maintain social distancing.It was Monday morning. Jessica put water to boil to make tea. She heard a postman’s truck outside. When the postman left, she rushed downstairs to collect the mail. It was a letter for Saadat from the hospital. Jessica went to the bedroom and slipped in the letter through the closed door where Saadat was kept in isolation. Saadat screamed in excitement, “Jess! My test came out negative.” Jessica ran to hug him. They had not hugged each other in a long while. As they hugged, the joy of triumph rejuvenated their souls. Nobody knows what the future holds for them, but they have definitely endured this ordeal together.