Pine Street Episode 233: Endurance

The call finally comes: Leo’s friend is sick, but not sick enough to be hospitalized, at least not yet. He lives in a multigenerational household and can’t isolate there. He’s afraid of giving the virus to his wife, or her parents. 

So the crew sets him up in Franny’s apartment. They arrange for food drop-offs, and a rotation of phone check-ins. 

He recovers, after about ten days of feeling worse than rotten, unable to do much other than go to the bathroom and open a pop-top can of soup for food. Leo volunteers to sterilize the place after his friend is well enough to go home. He suits up, wears his respirator (for the cleaning fumes as much as the virus), and scrubs everything he can think to scrub. 

They hope to have about 3 days between guests, windows open. On day two, Franny’s landlord calls. She has a friend who needs to isolate.

The landlord’s friend turns out to be a nurse. Franny talks to her through the door each morning when dropping off a box of food, hears snippets of what it’s been like to work in the hospital as the pandemic numbers climbed. Horror stories, full of sadness, and surprising, hope-inducing recoveries. 

“I was on the list to get the vaccine the day after my positive test,” Rosa, the nurse, says one morning. There is a rueful kind of humor in her voice. “One day.” 

“Wow,” Franny offers, unsure how to respond. “That, um, sucks.”

“Oh no,” Rosa answers. “That dose still went into the arm of a nurse, or maybe one of our janitors. It helped someone. That’s all that matters. I’ll survive this. I’m so glad to have a place to be that doesn’t put more stress on them, you know? They can focus on the people who really need them.”

The next morning, Franny taps on the door to let Rosa know the food is there. She doesn’t hear the usual answer, not even a weak “thank you.” She knocks, louder. 

“Rosa? Are you okay?” she calls, knocks again. Met by more silence, she pulls out her phone, dials 911. 

The EMTs are efficient and kind. Rosa recovers, eventually, after a week on a ventilator. 

“You saved my life, Franny,” Rosa says when Franny calls her in the hospital. 

“No,” Franny answers. “The EMTs and the nurses and the doctors did that. The folks like you.”

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