Man endures 100 COVID-19 tests to visit wife in long-term care home
'She can't walk and talk, but I think she still appreciates that I'm there,' says Bruce Coughtrey
Recently Bruce Coughtrey marked an important, uniquely 2021 romantic milestone — his 100th COVID-19 test, which he needed to visit his wife of 50 years living in a long-term care home.
"Liz is at the stage now where she can't walk and talk, but I think she still appreciates that I'm there," Coughtrey told CBC News.
"I think when I get there in the morning, there's a little glimmer of, 'Oh yeah, that's good.'"
Coughtrey has visited his wife each day he could for the past year while wearing a mask. She can't leave her room, so he wants to make sure she doesn't feel isolated, even if she can't see whether he is smiling, laughing, or frowning.
When restrictions came into place in March 2020, Coughtrey wanted to visit his wife to help feed her lunch and go for walks.
An initial lockdown prevented those visits, but as soon as he could, he started taking all the needed requirements to visit.
"I had to be tested very, very frequently," he said.
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Early on, he visited the testing centre on Heron Road, but the lines were quite long even when he arrived 30 to 45 minutes early. Then he switched to Brewer Arena, which also had long wait times.
When pharmacies began to offer testing the process became smoother, he said.
During the pandemic, his wife's home went in and out of lockdown, which meant he would sometimes have to wear extensive protective gear, other times a mask and goggles.
Looking forward to shedding the mask
With a few dozen known active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa, Coughtrey said restrictions are easing, somewhat.
On good days, I can wheel her out to Riverside Drive and sit there and watch the children run around the park.- Bruce Coughtrey
Fully immunized staff, caregivers and visitors no longer need to be tested before entering the homes, as long as they aren't showing symptoms.
Still, earlier this month Coughtrey took his 100th COVID-19 test — even marking the occasion with a cake. In his hands he held a calendar with a line through each day he was tested.
He hopes he can soon sit with his wife without a mask, so she can see his face for the first time in months. Coughtrey realizes that day could still be far off.
For now, he appreciates the time the two can spend together.
"On good days, I can wheel her out to Riverside Drive and sit there and watch the children run around the park," he said.
With files from CBC's Krystalle Ramlakhan