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How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting students? Who better to tell us than students themselves. Last month, LebTown reached out to all Lebanon County school districts soliciting articles from juniors and seniors who wanted to write about their experience. Today we’re publishing a submission from Palmyra senior Jess St. Clair.

My grandpa is dying in the hospital and I cannot see him. The cause of his failing health is not COVID-19, but rather congestive heart failure. Due to the new hospital regulations from the coronavirus pandemic, he is dying without his family by his side. A call to the phone next to his hospital bed is our only line of communication. With his progressive hearing loss from old age, a phone call is not enough and our chats are barely conversational. I need to see him, hold his hand, and tell him I love him one last time.

My grandpa is kind and witty. His wise eyes and wrinkled smile are charismatic. He is always ready to laugh with you and tell a story from his past. He is the type of guy who supported me center court at all my basketball games, slipped me $5 every time I left his house, and genuinely loved being with his grandchildren. Recently, after a prolonged stay in the hospital without family visits, he has become agitated and confused. He doesn’t recognize my name, my voice, or know where he is. He has begun getting angry with nurses, not sleeping at night, and not eating during the day. This is not characteristic of the grandpa I know and love. My grandpa is unfortunately experiencing hospital psychosis, a common disorder in which older patients exhibit paranoia, disorientation, and agitation during an extensive stay in a hospital. The cure for this disorder? Spending time with friends, family and familiar things. This is one thing we cannot give him because coronavirus has taken it away.

My only connection with him, phone calls, has now become useless because he does not remember who I am. It is heartbreaking to lose someone you love. It is even worse to know that they are alone. It is devastating to have our last moments taken away. I may mourn the end of my senior year, the time confined in the house, missing my last track season, but nothing even comes close to the pain and loss of missing my grandpa’s final moments. He is someone who has been there for my entire life, and I can’t be there for the end of his.

Do you have a message of encouragement for students going through this ordeal? Let us know and we’ll pass them along.


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