One family’s journey to prevent their father from feeling alone, isolated while battling COVID-19

HOUSTON – Coronavirus can be a particularly cruel virus in that many family members cannot stay with loved ones in the hospital for fear of further spread.

One family was determined to stay in touch with their father during two hospitalizations. So he never felt alone and they could keep a close eye on his recovery.

“I’m feeling blessed. I’m feeling grateful. I’m here in the comfort of my own home,” said Sheldon Weisfeld.

Sheldon began battling Covid-19 shortly before Father’s Day. He was released from the hospital once, only to return with a collapsed lung.

Sheldon was again released from this hospital this week.

“Although I am in quarantine, I’m by myself. But the ability to breathe is the gift,” said Sheldon. “You are by yourself, but you don’t have to be alone.”

Sheldon credits his two daughters and son for ensuring he never felt alone.

“Thank God he had the capacity to be able to call us, to be able to bring us in,” said Sarah Weisfeld.

Sheldon’s children didn’t just have daily video calls. They used Zoom and Facetime to share meals and keep up religious traditions. They even organized a Zoom concert for their dad.

Plus, the consistent video calls allowed them to keep up-to-date on Sheldon’s condition and treatments.

“We can see what he is doing physically. If we see him laying in that bed we remind him. ‘Hey, dad you need to lift your head up because you need to be able to breathe, open up the airways,‘” said Natalie Weisfeld. “We can help interpret the information the doctor was giving to him.”

Sheldon credits the constant interaction with his children with helping him keep a positive outlook.

“To have the ability to have the kids to help me navigate is immeasurable. It’s the ability to have another set of eyes, another set of ears,” said Sheldon.

Baylor College of Medicine’s Dr. Asim Shah said this type of support is crucial to a person’s mental health, which is a key component of healing.

“If you have good mental health. Your stress level is down, your immunity increases,” said Shah. “COVID has a lot of impact when it comes to fear, when it comes to panic, and when it comes to depression.”

Shah said this type of support goes beyond those battling the virus. He said the need for social distancing may leave many people feeling touch deprived or touch starved.

“Human beings are made to touch each other. Now, because of COVID-19, we are not shaking hands, we are not hugging each other. That touch sensation is not happening,” said Shah. “We need to have some social interaction. We cannot be completely socially distant because that’s going to be extremely depressing.”

Shah said digital interactions like the ones the Weisfelds used to stay in touch with their father can help replace that lack of physical interaction. Even though their father is home, he will remain in quarantine for another ten days.

“So we’re still utilizing the technology. We’re still utilizing the Zoom calls and Facetime to see him and connect with him,” said Sarah.

Sheldon said he still has a long way to go to rebuild his lung capacity and added another aspect of his mental well-being that came from blocking out everything except his family and his treatment.

“If somebody wanted to interject something about what’s going on with COVID-19 and how many cases there might be and what’s going on from a political position; I would not participate in that dialogue whatsoever,” said Sheldon. “You don’t need to know statistics. You’re laying in bed fighting your own battle. Your battle is number one, focus on yourself.”