Family celebrates festive season together after dad survives Covid-19
Educator Regina Lai and her family are celebrating the year-end festivities this year knowing that they could have lost a loved one.
On Oct 5, her 61-year-old father - who had tested positive for Covid-19 eight days earlier - was rushed to the intensive care unit (ICU) in Sengkang General Hospital. He struggled to breathe and needed oxygen supplementation.
To make matters worse, just days before on Oct 1, her 58-year-old mother sprained her back while taking care of her husband and had to be confined to the bed.
Celebrating the year-end holiday season with her family, Ms Lai, 25, cannot help but feel thankful that her parents - both retirees - are now well.
Then, all she could was to pray for the best, recalled Ms Lai of the trying period.
"At first, Covid-19 cases seemed like just numbers reported on the news. But it hit home when my dad contracted it. It was no longer just about the numbers, it was also about our family," she added.
On Sept 27, her father was confirmed to have the coronavirus after developing a cough and headache, and had to isolate himself at home.
Five days later, Mr Lai was warded at Sengkang General Hospital after having breathing difficulties. His condition deteriorated on Oct 5, and he had to be moved to the ICU.
"At that point, we were really worried because we didn't know if his condition was going to get better or worse," said Ms Lai, adding that her father remained anxious about his wife's predicament despite being struck with Covid-19.
"It was a very uncertain period for us. We didn't know when he would get discharged, when he would recover, and when this (ordeal) would end."
But Ms Lai and her two siblings had to stay strong for their mother, who had trouble walking then due to the intense pain in her back.
"My mum was struggling. So we wanted to be around to support her," said Ms Lai, whose parents live with her paternal grandmother and a foreign domestic helper.
Things looked up when the patriarch of the family was transferred out of ICU on Oct 6.
But at the time, the family could not visit him, due to a no visitation policy at hospitals amid a surge in Covid-19 cases here from September to October.
"Thankfully, we were able to pass items to my dad through the help of the hospital staff. So I rallied my siblings and we wrote him a card," said Ms Lai.
"I think that knowing his children are supporting him really encouraged him."
The family also found other ways to cheer him on.
Once, they surprised him by showing up at a Housing Board carpark near the hospital and waving at him from its rooftop.
Mr Lai felt encouraged when he looked out of his ward window and saw his family from afar.
He was eventually discharged from the hospital on Oct 13, and has since recovered. His wife's back has also completely healed.
This year, the Lais marked Christmas by attending church service virtually and eating dinner together.
The celebration was also more meaningful for the family, as Ms Lai got married in March while her elder brother tied the knot in September.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the family's yearly tradition was to attend physical church service on Christmas Day and have dinner with their extended family.
Ms Lai said: "Despite having to celebrate Christmas on a smaller scale, I'm still grateful that my family is well and I get to spend time with them."
She is also looking forward to spending time with her parents on New Year's Eve.
"It was so easy to take our health for granted in the past, but that's not the case anymore," she said. "We're just thankful to be together."