Panic Sets In as My Parents Test for COVID-19

Mary Beth Skylis avatar

by Mary Beth Skylis |

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“How’s your 2022 so far?” I text my dad a few days into January.

“Not so good,” his message lights up my phone. “I think I have COVID.”

At first, I think he’s joking. He’s always finding ways to look on the bright side of life, and sometimes doing so involves dark humor. But when I realize that he’s serious, my feelings begin to shift.

Dad has Parkinson’s disease, and because of his age, he is “at risk.” Hearing that he may have COVID-19 makes a pit grow in my stomach.

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Science has already begun to show that Parkinson’s patients who are hospitalized with COVID-19 may be more likely to experience worse infections and higher death rates. And while, over the course of the pandemic, hospitalizations of Parkinson’s patients have decreased, deaths have gone up, according to a study last year.

Is it that people are afraid to go to the hospital? Are people with Parkinson’s struggling to admit when they need help? Or does COVID-19 just swoop in like a black horse, claiming lives as it rides?

Dad is still generally doing well with his Parkinson’s. He manages to accomplish most things by himself. But I’m not so sure that his immune system will fight COVID-19 off quickly. And I don’t know whether he’ll suffer from complications. He is vaccinated, and he takes all the steps he can to protect himself. Not every study has shown that Parkinson’s patients are more likely to catch COVID-19 and suffer from additional complications. But still, I wonder.

“Your mom has it too,” Dad adds.

Great. It appears that both my parents are going to try their hand at battling the virus.

Dad explains that they’re both quarantining, and they went to get a COVID-19 test done. But they’re not expecting results for a few days. If it’s COVID-19, it feels like my panic is justified. If it’s something else, I’ll still be worried about my parents as they fight off whatever it is they’re battling. They are empty nesters, after all. It’d take a full day of travel for me to look in on them.

A few days later, my parents get their results back. They’re positive.

The news is unwelcome, and it seems to justify my worry. Dad reports that he and my mom are both very tired, and they have the sniffles. But for the most part, they appear to be OK. Dad’s main frustration is that he won’t be able to go boxing for a while.


Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

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