Letter: To protesters, I hope you learn a hard lesson

Posted 8/25/20

To the editor:

I just got out of the hospital after four days and three nights in the ICU. I opened my phone to videos and news of people protesting their right to get their hair cut and nails …

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Letter: To protesters, I hope you learn a hard lesson

Posted

To the editor:

I just got out of the hospital after four days and three nights in the ICU. I opened my phone to videos and news of people protesting their right to get their hair cut and nails done. Wanting to go out to eat and all the other luxuries taken for granted.

My heart is hurting. I had some of the greatest nurses while in the hospital. Leaving their phones in the room to play music. Sitting at my side while I struggled for air just minutes away from a possible intubation. It was hard to know that these people are doing all that they can for so many and people just don't care.

I can guarantee you that none of the people protesting have struggled for air bad enough for a tube. Nobody would willingly put themselves at risk knowing that the consequences would feel like.

Here’s a glimpse.

You are paralyzed. Yes, paralyzed as in not able to even breathe for yourself. While a doctor quickly shoves a metal rod into your mouth so they can see down your throat. Then quickly crams a tube down and connects you to a machine so that you don’t die or have brain damage at the least. It is painful. You gag. You vomit. The only way they can get the gunk out of your lungs is another tube. It’s like you are breathing through a straw and all of a sudden a vacuum comes and takes all air out. You are tied down so that the life saving measures aren’t

ripped out in your confusion and pain. It’s uncomfortable to say the least. If you are lucky you are sedated. I know this from experience, not just my medical nursing knowledge. I've been awake but paralyzed. Fully aware of the tube, doctors and nurses trying to save my life.

I’ve spent almost 10 days on a ventilator at one time (people with Covid-19 can spend more than that). I woke up not even knowing what year we were in, and couldn’t remember for days. I woke up only wanting one thing... my mom. It hurts to know that these people are getting sick and suffering and not even able to have someone familiar there to hold them. You can only see the nurses, respiratory therapist and doctors eyes. They try to comfort you and say that all will be ok, even when they know you might not be.

People also seem to be forgetting all the people who need hospital treatment regularly. Heart attacks, strokes, in my case asthma. These people still need help too but are so scared to get it they are willing to push to the brink of death before calling for help. Nobody can visit you. It’s hard on patients and family, trust me.

To all the people protesting I can only hope that you learn a hard lesson and not the easy one of an intubation. Covid-19 is brutal. You can’t even hold your family member’s hand. Nobody should die like this. Nobody. If you protest at the least sign legal papers waiving your right to

treatment. Don’t put healthcare workers at risk because you want to get your hair done or whatever greedy self-centered thing you want to do. These people in healthcare want to go home and see their families. They want to hug their kids. Don’t take that luxury for granted right now.

Alison Riley

Barrington

Editor's Note: Alison Riley is a triplet who attended Barrington High School where she had several severe concussions mostly related to running track. After years of debilitating headaches, hospitalizations and doctors, she developed asthma. She's been taken more than 25 times by ambulance to the hospital from URI where all the triplets attend. Alison has had to take two years of absence from her nursing program at URI.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.