Sayed Rizk sat nonetheless on his lounge, holding a mug between weak palms. His face was darkened, and his tea untouched.
The 70-year-old had been awake since 3am that morning, unable to sleep via ache and discomfort.
When his spouse, Najwa, woke to seek out him there, she referred to as for her daughter.
“I advised her, your dad will not be OK. We have to take him to the hospital.”
After seven days of struggling Covid signs inside his residence, Sayed’s household referred to as for an ambulance.
Najwa and Sayed Rizk lived collectively of their residence in Sydney’s West Ryde with their daughters Nicole and Souad. Final month, the household turned sick with Covid and their beloved patriarch turned certainly one of greater than 330 folks in New South Wales to die throughout the newest outbreak.
“He used to say he wasn’t scared. I’m not going to die from Covid, he’d say. It’s not going to occur to me. And it did.”
‘It doesn’t evaluate to your regular flu’
The household first felt unwell on Sunday 8 August.
“The signs have been horrible, and hit us all of sudden,” Nicole, 28, says. “We stayed at residence and handled them as greatest we may. However it doesn’t evaluate to your regular flu. This was the flu multiplied by 100.”
She recollects the sudden onset of head and physique aches. “Think about the aftermath of being hit by a prepare. That’s how intense it was.”
Like her daughter, Najwa can’t neglect the ache that hit her physique. “At night-time, you may’t sleep due to the ache. And throughout the day, you may by no means get snug.”
“You’ll be able to’t do something,” Najwa says. “We have been barely consuming. We had no style, no odor, and a really, very heavy cough. I keep in mind not with the ability to maintain my eyes open.”
On the fourth day of signs, nonetheless bedridden herself, Najwa watched her husband’s situation worsen.
“He would attempt to rise up from mattress, and fall,” she says. Weak on his legs, Sayed referred to as for Nicole, who tried to drag him up. “However she was weak herself, and couldn’t do it.”
The following day, in one other try to bathe, Sayed fell on the tiled flooring.
Although unable to face, Sayed saved assuring his household he was superb. However Najwa’s concern solely grew.
The following night time, a violent cough saved Sayed from sleeping, and Najwa woke to seek out him within the lounge room.
“He had been up since 3am within the morning,” Najwa says. “He didn’t wish to wake us up. He was apprehensive we have been all too sick as nicely.”
Nicole says her father’s face had turned an off, darkish color. “We knew we couldn’t maintain him at residence,” she says.
On 15 August, seven days after their preliminary onset of signs, Sayed was taken by ambulance to Ryde hospital in Sydney’s north-west.
‘We advised him don’t panic, every thing can be superb’
When he arrived at Ryde hospital, Nicole says there have been no beds accessible. “He was left in a chair. After 5 hours, he was given a mattress and the drip.”
Sayed was additionally given an oxygen masks to help with respiration, and was began on a variety of drugs.
“Docs would inform us he was secure, barely improved, then barely worse. Steady, barely improved, a lot worse. With Covid there’s nothing constant. It was fixed nervousness.”
Finally, the household have been advised Sayed’s respiration was not getting higher.
“My dad was nonetheless awake at this level,” Nicole says. “We referred to as him. We advised him, don’t fear. Don’t panic and every thing can be superb.”
Sayed was then sedated, intubated and transferred to Hornsby hospital.
When Sayed’s household contacted Ryde hospital to retrieve his private objects, they have been advised the belongings have been misplaced.
Amongst his garments, pockets and cell phone have been a gold chain with a crucifix and a skinny gold bracelet. Her father had been sporting the bracelet and chain “day by day, for the final twenty years”.
“They’re greater than sentimental. It’s the worst feeling to not have that with us at the moment.”
Nicole was despatched an e-mail by the hospital’s basic supervisor three weeks later, apologising for the lacking belongings and expressing disappointment that she was not knowledgeable sooner.
In a press release, a Northern Sydney native well being district spokesperson reiterated that apology, saying they have been sorry “for the extra misery brought on by the lack of the affected person’s private belongings whereas he was underneath the care of Ryde hospital”.
The spokesperson additionally confirmed an “intensive seek for the lacking objects was performed by workers” and that the matter has been reported to NSW police and an insurance coverage declare lodged.
Upon entry at Hornsby hospital, Sayed was given an X-ray. Within the scan, workers observed the form of a cross. “They turned his shoulder, and his crucifix was caught there, pulled off the chain,” Nicole says.
“All the pieces else is gone, however we now have the crucifix, as a result of it went with him to Hornsby by probability.”
‘We knew it was the final time we’d see our dad alive’
Nicole says, from the very starting, “there was no sense something was going to work”.
Sayed’s household would name the hospital two to a few occasions a day for an replace. Nicole describes the nervousness of ready for the decision as “gruelling”, and says her mom was on edge all the time.
“She was so anxious, crying for all the two weeks,” Nicole says.
Najwa, Nicole and her sister Souad have been ultimately authorised for a go to with Sayed in hospital.
Nicole says she “went in realizing it was the final time we’d see our dad alive”.
“First the nurses and docs placed on their PPE. The gloves, the masks, every thing. Then we went in. Dad was sedated. That was the toughest factor I’ve ever needed to do, seeing him in that state.”
The nurse was empathic and understanding, letting the household prolong their fifteen-minute go to to nearly two hours.
“We have been in a position to pray with him, and converse to him. We took him holy oil and water.” The household have been additionally in a position to video name their brother Kaisar, and sister Malinda in Lebanon, who’s unable to return residence.
Najwa describes not wanting to depart her husband within the hospital that afternoon. “Inside my thoughts, and my coronary heart, I used to be not at peace”.
“I felt in my coronary heart one thing was going to occur.”
At this level, Sayed’s blood oxygen ranges have been dropping dangerously low. The household have been additionally advised Sayed’s rheumatoid arthritis was an underlying situation to be cautious of.
“We didn’t know arthritis had something to do with Covid. However we have been advised the remedies weren’t working.”
Nicole, Souad and Najwa left Sayed at 3pm that day. That night time, they fell asleep near 11pm. Three hours later, at 2:27 within the morning on Thursday 2 September, the Rizk household home telephone rang.
“All of us received this sickening feeling in our guts,” Nicole says. “Our home telephone by no means rings.”
Najwa says, “I felt the home collapse round me.”
A health care provider from Hornsby hospital was calling to allow them to know Sayed had handed away minutes earlier than. “He advised us his organs shut down on account of Covid pneumonia,” Nicole says.
“He mentioned, ‘I’m sorry’. And that was it. We misplaced him.”
‘We turned a kind of numbers’
Earlier than her household’s battle with Covid, Nicole “by no means in 1,000,000 years” anticipated to contract the virus, not to mention lose her father to it.
The household would hearken to the day by day acquired circumstances and dying numbers. “We’d hear that 12 folks died and suppose gratefully, a minimum of it’s not 4 hundred.”
Now, when Nicole appears at Covid numbers, she thinks as an alternative of how many individuals went via the nervousness, the despair and the helplessness that her household went via.
“The people who find themselves dying are simply being portrayed as a quantity, moderately than actual households being torn aside,” she says. “Solely while you turn into a kind of numbers, while you’re in it, do you realise how severe it’s.”
After 4 weeks, Najwa nonetheless hasn’t absolutely gotten her style again. For Nicole, the cough lingers and returns sporadically.
Nonetheless housebound in Sydney’s prolonged lockdown, grieving the lack of Sayed has been particularly troublesome for the household, unable to entry the assist of prolonged relations and family members.
Najwa is grateful to be along with her daughters, however is aware of issues “gained’t be like earlier than”. She says her late husband was “very quiet, very useful, and a really, excellent man”.
“He liked everybody and he was liked by everybody. He didn’t deserve this.”
“It’s by no means going to be the identical,” she says. “There’s one thing lacking. Even after we sit on the desk to eat dinner, it’s totally different.”
Najwa says she “simply needs households” like hers to “keep inside your own home”.
“Put on your masks. Be thoughtful,” she urges. “If one individual is sick, they will cross it on to a complete household. An entire household can be sick, and it may finish identical to it did for us.”
“I hope nobody experiences what we skilled,” Najwa says. “Nobody on the earth.”