OPINION: Stay home so my papa can get the care he needs

My papa’s surgery was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic


Robyn’s grandparents at the dinner table in 2019 celebrating Robyn’s grandma’s birthday. Photo courtesy of Robyn Dobson

Robyn Dobson, Sports Editor

My papa’s kidneys are failing.

They are currently functioning at 24%. You wouldn’t know it if you met him though. He is one of the most stubborn and active 87 year olds that I have ever met. He’s also one of my favorite people on this planet.

About a week ago, he was scheduled for a surgery to get an arteriovenous fistula in his arm to start the process of beginning dialysis. The implant has to be in his arm for three to six months before he can officially begin dialysis.

A few days before his surgery, Kaiser Permanente called my papa to inform him that they had canceled his surgery per CDC guidelines. It was not an emergency surgery. The coronavirus was and is the number one priority.

Our hospitals are overwhelmed with the number of COVID-19 cases shooting up at exponential rates. Our doctors and nurses are working tirelessly to treat thousands of patients and, through no fault of their own, others with preexisting conditions are feeling the effects.

However, the people who still aren’t taking this seriously are contributing to the spread and putting lives at danger. It’s not just about you anymore. It’s about protecting your community, your state and all those most at risk. 

The longer the COVID-19 pandemic goes on, the longer my papa has to wait for his surgery, the longer it will take for him to start dialysis and the more time his kidneys have to deteriorate.

Every day I’m at home, I’m worried this will go on for longer than experts have predicted and my papa will have to wait that much longer. 

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COVID-19 isn’t some “spicy flu,” as I saw someone so eloquently put it in a TikTok a few weeks back. The effects of it have been astronomical. Schools have gone online. Businesses have closed their doors. Millions have lost their jobs, including several of my friends and my mom. The 911 systems are overwhelmed and are reaching volumes that haven’t been seen since the 9/11 attacks.

People are dying.

And yet, I still see people who are treating this like a joke and continue to ignore social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines.

My papa is only one patient out of millions that are finding themselves in need of care that is being sidelined because of the demand for doctors right now. So, if you care at all about a human life, stay home and stop visiting your friends.

Yeah, it sucks to be cooped up in your tiny two-bedroom apartment (I can attest to this), but it’s the least you can do for the lives that are at risk and the doctors and nurses who probably haven’t slept since the first case was reported in the United States.

Go do a puzzle. Try some baking. Facetime your friends. Exercise. Go watch some Netflix or even better, go read a book. 

Also, no, social distancing does not mean having gatherings at your apartment with all your friends. Sure, you’re staying home but how would you know if one of your friends was infected? You may very well be spreading the coronavirus to five other homes when you choose to invite your friends over to drink beer for your “quarantine birthday party.”

Stop ignoring the stay-at-home order because it’s inconvenient for you. Maybe you’re one of the very few lucky ones that haven’t watched your family lose their jobs or you haven’t seen it affect anyone you love, but there’s billions of others on this planet that are hurting right now. 

Get out of the headspace that you live on a little island alone.

My papa is one of the most important people to me and has filled me with a kind of love you can’t get anywhere else except from him.

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Robyn with her papa after her high school graduation in 2016. Photo courtesy of Robyn Dobson

He walked me to ice cream shops after most haircuts I got as a little girl and hid eggs in the backyard every single Easter. He used to sing “When You Wish Upon a Star” (which remains one of my favorite songs to this day) throughout the house to bring a smile to everyone’s face. I now drive his old truck after he saw my mom and I couldn’t afford it on our own and I needed a transportation mode for school.

He was one of the first people I called when my dad walked out on my family during high school. 

He’s one of the reasons I’m able to even attend college and have this platform to write on and I’ll be damned if he can’t receive the care he needs because people continue to be selfish and ignore the stay-in-place orders.

Do your part to stop the spread. The lives of people, including my papa, are literally depending on it.