Lawrence Wright: The Plague Year

As I finished reading this book, the pandemic is far from over. Even though the Biden administration has a much better handling of Covid, it was only last year that America had experienced the failure of the previous administration that cost us over half a million of human lives, including my mother’s. Through thorough research, vigorous stories, and compelling histories, Lawrence Wright illustrated how our government at the time botched the response from Covid, even with the simplest method of wearing a mask. If we had a competent leadership, we would have come out much better and this book proved it. It is a riveting revisit of America under Covid.

The follow account, in particular, brought back the experience that I had gone through with my own mother (p. 247-248):

On November 14, Selene got a call advising that her mother’s blood pressure was plummeting. “Based on how she’s declining, how long do we have?” Selene asked, thinking that she would pick up her father so that he could say goodbye. “A couple hours,” the doctor said. Ten minutes later, a nurse called and said, “Get here now.”

“They put me in a helmet,” Selene recalled. “There was a plastic flap that closed around my neck. Inside the helmet there was a fan at the top that blew air down, so that any air that got in would be flushed away.

And they put a gown on me, and double gloves, and they let me go in and say goodbye to her. That was the biggest shock, to see her, and to see how she looked. She was twice her size, because she was swollen from steroids. Her tongue was hanging out the side of her mouth because she was on the ventilator—she’d been intubated. They had to brace her head to keep it straight on the pillow, and they had tape around her mouth to keep the tube in. I’ll never forget it. But I think the thing that will haunt me is the smell. It’s like the smell of decay, like she had already started to die.

“The thing that made it so hard to see that was to juxtapose it against President Trump out there, saying he felt like he was twenty-eight years old again and he never felt better. So how could the same thing that did this to her, how could someone ever take it for granted that this was nothing, you have nothing to be afraid of?”

Selene gathered her mother in her arms as the machines went silent.

Bonjour Vietnam