A Kokomo woman who’s spent her life telling other people’s stories as a journalist now is telling her own after she lost her father to COVID-19 last week.
Linda Ferries’ father, Irvin Herman of Indianapolis, died at Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital last Wednesday. Though he was presumed to have COVID-19 during his hospitalization, it wasn’t until six days after his death that his family got the results of his test back: Herman had been one of the Hoosiers with the virus.
“He survived The Depression and being in the South Pacific and World War II and had a long, great life and then boom,” said Ferries.
Herman had been active and healthy most of his life, and he and his wife of 73 years, Dolores Herman, 92, still lived at home. Herman turned 94 in January, and he had joked to Ferries that “it’s all been downhill since.” He was hospitalized twice in February, once for a urinary tract infection and again for kidney stones.
Ferries had been on a cruise, and when she returned on March 14, she opted not to visit her father on the drive home from the airport in case she had picked up the virus herself. Two days later, Ferries got a call from her mother, telling her that Herman was in bed and “wasn’t making any sense.”
Dolores called 911, and Herman was taken back to the hospital. He was given antibiotics for the urinary tract infection that now had gone into his blood stream, and doctors released him early, Herman thought, to get him out of the hospital due to the risk of COVID-19.
In the meantime, Ferries’ brother drove up from Texas to help take care of him, as Ferries had put herself in quarantine following the cruise and wasn’t able to help.
Herman’s condition appeared to improve, but then it quickly deteriorated, Ferries said. On Monday, March 23, Herman’s home healthcare nurse told Dolores that Herman needed to go back to the hospital as his vital signs were “very weak,” and he had pneumonia. That day, Dolores watched her husband get taken away by ambulance while she and her son were directed to stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days. That day, Herman was tested for COVID-19, but he’d never know his results.
The following day, as his health continued to worsen, a palliative care nurse at the hospital did a video conference for Herman with Ferries, her husband Ken, their three children, her brother, and Dolores.
“The palliative care nurse was saying, ‘Mr. Herman, Mr. Herman, your family is here,’ and daddy opened his eyes twice. But that was it,” Ferries said. “So that was the way we said goodbye, over the phone. That’s what’s so hard because no one can be there. Certainly, we have a close family. I’m very blessed with a close family and certainly would have never anticipated not being with my mother when my dad passed away.”
On Wednesday, March 25, Herman died.
It wasn’t until yesterday, six days after Herman’s death, that Ferries knew the results of her father’s test.
“The test was positive. My daddy, who spent his life playing the odds and usually winning the important bets, is one of the first 3,000 or so … Americans whose deaths, as of March 31, have been officially attributed to this wretched virus. Figure those odds – and he was on the wrong side of this one,” Ferries wrote on Facebook today.
Now, Ferries is left hoping that her mother and brother go without contracting the virus. Their 14-day quarantine expires Monday, and so far, they have not exhibited any symptoms. Ferries also has two children working as physicians in Indianapolis hospitals that she worries about.
“You worry about your kids. I’m very, very proud of them, but they’re concerned about bringing it home and the strain of having the equipment they need. And so we’re just kind of hearing a lot about it on a very personal level,” Ferries said
During her father’s health battle, Ferries said she often wondered if she was overreacting by staying home and not going to see her father while he was sick at home, but she said her son, a doctor, assured her that every choice she made was the right one.
Ferries encouraged anyone else who’s in a similar situation to stay put, even though it can seem selfish not being able to do anything to help a loved one.
By sharing her father’s story, Ferries now hopes to put a face to the virus that, to many people, is just numbers.
“I wanted to put a face to it. It’s not just statistics. It’s not just something that’s happening someplace else,” Ferries said.