A mother's nightmare: Teenage daughter sedated in coma, but COVID-19 rules force mom to keep distance
'I needed to be close to her,' says Regina mom whose daughter suffered life-threatening seizures
Not being able to be with a child at the hospital during an emergency would be a nightmare for any parent.
Now imagine having a child admitted to the intensive care unit, with a breathing tube down her throat — and not being able to be with her due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
That's the situation Regina's Chasity Delorme found herself in this past weekend.
Her daughter, Jayda Delorme, was diagnosed with epilepsy two years ago — so the family knows what to look out for when she has seizures, and they do not usually need to call an ambulance.
But Chasity Delorme says the seizure Jayda had this past Friday was different.
"I noticed her behaviour changing.… It usually happens very quickly, so sometimes there's not a lot of time to react," the single mother of three said.
"I was already fearful of what was actually happening. It wasn't until I got to the hospital that I realized how serious it was."
Jayda had had a seizure earlier in the week — and Delorme knew that because of visitor restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, if her daughter needed to be hospitalized, she would not be able to be by her side.
"The one thing that I fear, happened. And that's what made it even more traumatizing for me," Chasity Delorme said.
Jayda was rushed to the hospital, where doctors determined she had suffered multiple seizures.
"It was traumatic. I couldn't run out of the room to go and stand beside her to hold her hand," said Delorme.
"I couldn't be there to talk to the doctors or the nurses and whoever was treating her. I wasn't there to tell them, 'This is not normal.'"
Jayda said that Friday morning was like any other before the seizure. She only remembers going in and out of consciousness, with nurses behind a window — but no family around.
"I couldn't really know what was happening," said Jayda.
"It's weird waking up and … looking at your body and seeing a bunch of bruises and wondering how you got them."
Delorme said that she eventually got to talk to a social worker and then a doctor, who told her about her daughter's status.
"The doctor said, 'The positive part of this is that that we stopped the seizures by giving her the breathing tube, because now the oxygen is getting to her brain," she said.
"And that's what saved her life."
She was told that if Jayda hadn't been in the hospital, the seizures could have been fatal.
Knowing that her daughter could have died — but was saved by the doctor, nurses, and paramedics — still makes Delorme emotional.
"That's where the life-saving part comes in, and the devastation," she said.
"Because I had this realization that my daughter's life was just saved, you know? But I couldn't be there now, to help her recover."
But Delorme said that the doctor who told her about the seizures had been stopped waited a few moments to tell her more.
"You could tell he was waiting … because he knew that my reaction would be even worse."
Jayda had been put into an induced coma, the doctor said, with a breathing tube down her throat, and had been admitted into the intensive care unit at Regina General Hospital. Knowing that her daughter went through all of that — and was now alone at the hospital — left Delorme inconsolable.
"There was no communicating with me at that point. I was hyperventilating. I was having an anxiety attack."
She said the social workers who stepped in were helpful and comforting — from a distance. They could not touch her, or even be near her when they offered her some water, she said — which she understands.
"It was really awkward in that way, but I mean, I knew that they were trying their best, and I could feel their comforting energy, and the disappointment that they couldn't sit beside me," she said.
"As her mother, I needed to be close to her, so I would sit in the parking lot, just so I could be close to her," Delorme said.
"I feel like I was her voice, and you know, it was because of this virus … it's taken away an essential piece of her medical care."
Delorme said she was told that because Jayda — who recently turned 18 — is an adult, she could not go into the hospital with her.
She understands that technicality, she said, but as a self-described "helicopter mom" and "mama bear," she worries about her three children.
"Even though she is one month into being 18, all my abilities of being the voice of her parent were taken away," she said.
"She depends on me in all aspects of her life because she's still learning."
Delorme describes her daughter as a talented artist who is caring and loves singing, creating art, and beading.
"She's always thinking about other people. She's just she's a very talented, and colourful, and soft-spoken at the same time."
Since her daughter was in an induced coma, and Delorme could not go into the hospital over the weekend, she decided to do something to show Jayda she was not alone.
She and her two other children, along with a few supporters, made signs and stood outside the hospital in hopes that Jayda could see them.
"I felt lots of comfort just seeing them for the first time," said Jayda. "It helped a lot."
She said that although she does not use social media that much, FaceTiming and reading Facebook comments and other messages online have helped her feel less alone.
"It brought lots of comfort and joy, knowing I had all these people by my side."
Jayda was allowed to go home three days later, and is now recuperating with her family.
Jayda said it usually takes her a few days to get back to normal after having a seizure, but she is just thankful to be home.
The mother and daughter are thankful for the paramedics that showed up, the doctors, and nurses that helped — but also Native Services at the hospital, who worked as a liaison with the family, checking up on Jayda when Delorme could not.
They even helped Delorme and her family, who are from Cowessess First Nation, find an elder to speak to — remotely.
"We prayed in the car," Delorme said, while connected by phone to the elder.
"She was like, 'OK, now I'm lighting this smudge, and I'm grabbing my feather, and pray in your way.…' She started praying in our language, and that was the most beautiful part because it was so comforting," Delorme said.
"So it was a virtual prayer. It was, you know, not the same — but extremely helpful at that moment."