I read the lead front-page story published Sept. 8 (“MaineHealth dials back on surgeries as COVID-19 patients rise”) with alarm for a number of reasons, but for one specific one: My husband, who will turn 82 in November, is still waiting for an appointment date for a surgical procedure to “kill” the tumor in one of his kidneys by freezing. We don’t know if the tumor is malignant or not, because, when a biopsy was done April 2 at Maine Medical Center, not enough tissue was taken for the lab to analyze.

In this image taken from a Maine Medical Center video posted on its Facebook page on Sept. 3, an ICU nurse cares for a COVID-19 patient at the hospital in Portland. Maine Med’s parent, MaineHealth, recently announced that it is postponing some non-emergency surgical procedures to maintain room for pandemic patients.

Aside from that, I have read letters to the editor from health care workers, specifically nurses, who are not and do not intend to be vaccinated against COVID-19. I do not want an unvaccinated medical professional to be anywhere near my husband (or myself), and I do not understand their objections to being vaccinated. One nurse wrote that, after 30 years of nursing, she would leave her profession and work elsewhere, such as at Hannaford. I shop at Hannaford, and I hope she will not be employed by Hannaford in any location.

My husband is a twin. He is No. 7 of 14 children. His twin was No. 8. His twin brother believed that COVID-19 was just a “hoax” and that if he did contract the virus, he would survive it.

On July 31, my husband called his brother, who was extremely sick and who said he believed he had the virus. My husband urged his twin to get medical attention right away but got nowhere trying to reason with his brother.

On Aug. 2, my brother-in-law called our house, and by then, he was much worse. My husband convinced him to get help. He collapsed on his lawn on the way to his car. A neighbor helped him to his feet. He went to his doctor’s office, where the doctor was not in; the nurse gave him a mask and told him to go straight home and quarantine. He went to the grocery store – probably not wearing the mask.

On Aug. 3, the neighbor checked on him; he was so incoherent that the neighbor called 911 from the doorstep. He was admitted to the hospital that day and was on 100 percent oxygen and sedated. My husband became the family contact person, and each day a nurse from the intensive care unit called with updates – no change one way or the other.

On Aug. 10, an ICU doctor called our house. My husband’s twin’s kidneys had failed. Did my husband want dialysis to begin? After the doctor said dialysis would not change the expected outcome, my husband made the very difficult decision to discontinue all medical procedures. Death came in less than two minutes. I wonder how many people in this country have had to make that decision for a family member.

My brother-in-law died in Idaho. According to news reports, only about 40 percent of eligible people there are fully vaccinated, one of the lowest rates in the nation. My brother-in-law was not one of the 40 percent. If he had been vaccinated, he might have stood a chance of survival. We will never know.


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