BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Last year, Elena began to develop issues with her eyes. Her eye pressure worsened over time and she developed blurred vision, severe eye and head pain, and nausea.
Without health insurance, she was at a loss as to what to do until her friends told her about Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades in Bend. At VIM, she was diagnosed with glaucoma. She developed glaucoma attacks and was scheduled for a surgery to address it. Her surgery got postponed due to the pandemic, but she is now rescheduled for her appointment.
But that’s not the only change that impacted Elena when the pandemic hit.
Elena and her husband are recently recovered from COVID-19.
When Oregon went on lockdown in March, Elena and her family stayed home. They only left their home to get groceries, and Elena says, “People were not taking precautions at the store, there were no requirements to wear a mask at that time.”
Her husband began to feel tired all the time, and then Elena developed a cough. At first they thought it was allergies, until her husband got sick with a high fever. He got tested for COVID-19 at St. Charles, and it came back positive.
They stayed at the clinic for four more hours to receive medication for the fever and to get liquids for dehydration. Sick and fearful of what might happen, Elena and her husband went home and isolated themselves from their three children. And then Elena came down with a fever.
Everyone in the house went on lockdown for 14 days. Their three girls, ages 9, 17, and 21 took over care of the house, chores, cooking, schoolwork, and each other. They set a table outside their parent’s bedroom and left food, medicine, and anything else they needed on it.
They disinfected doorknobs, washed dishes immediately after their parents used them, washed their hands often, and tried to keep everything sanitized.
When they weren’t doing these things, they went to their separate rooms.
Two of the daughters were showing mild symptoms, and the Health Department called every day and asked the daughters to take their temperatures twice a day to make sure they were not also getting sick.
Elena says they’re so appreciative of their friends and family who helped out by leaving food on the porch while Elena’s family was in quarantine.
Even more so, she feels lucky to have been in quarantine with her husband. Because he became very sick first, they were able to care for each other as each of them entered the worst of the illness.
As they endured symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, cough, difficulty breathing, and a fever that reached 102 degrees, she says, “We were scared. Our daughters were scared. We don’t have any underlying health conditions and we still got very sick. I thought, ‘OMG, I might die’. That’s not something easy to hold true. You cannot sleep, you can’t do anything you’re in so much pain. You try to breathe but the air doesn’t come to your lungs, you feel helpless. It was very hard to beat. My husband and I helped each other, but not everyone has that.”
Her daughter emphasized this point, adding, “When they were together in the room, they had each other. What happens for those that are alone? People from the outside can’t check in on them.”
Elena and her husband are well again, but not without some setbacks. Elena’s cough has persisted, and her husband had to take two weeks off work as a house painter.
Elena suggests that people wear masks. “I know the mask won’t protect me, but it will protect another person. If the doctors wear masks for hours, why can’t we wear masks for an hour when we go to the store?”
It’s more clear than ever that individual health affects us all, and now is the time to come together and do what is best for our community. Take care, be healthy.
About Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades
Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades (VIM) is a nonprofit clinic in Bend that provides free medical care to low-income, uninsured adults from working families in Central Oregon. Our mission is “to improve the health and wellness of the medically uninsured or critically underserved through the engagement of professionals, community partners, and dedicated volunteers.”
VIM is the only clinic in Central Oregon that cares for the uninsured without charge. Patients receive primary and specialty medical care, medications, mental health care, surgery, physical therapy, lab work, medical tests, and education programs. All care is provided through medical and support volunteers.