After more than two years of hospitalization due to COVID, two months in a coma, dozens of tests and scars left on his body from the trip, Eduardo Lozano has been discharged from the hospital. Luis, a friend with whom he shares his taxi-driver profession and countless trips behind him, is waiting for him at the door. The Caribbean, Morocco or Thailand are just some of the travels they made together. And on Friday afternoon they made another one, the one that will take Eduardo home. “Today was the first night in two years that I overslept. And look, I usually get really nervous before trips,” he jokes.
He left the doors of the Duran i Reynals Social and Medical Hospital early in the afternoon, and the whole center wanted to say goodbye to him. And for good reason: he became a famous person in the hospital, spending more than two years in a room that at some points of the conversation, by reservation, he calls “home”. We have a long conversation at the door of the hospital, and a few seconds after we get into the taxi, he asks Luis to stop. “Wait, I’m also going to say goodbye to the security guys.” Eduardo seems to be putting off leaving the hospital. And it almost is.
“I’ve been here so long that I didn’t want to leave because I don’t have anything else outside,” Eduardo admits, following the silhouette of the hospital in the distance with his eyes. Due to the consequences that the coronavirus left him with, he received a complete disability and will never work again. In addition, neither his wife, nor children, nor parents are waiting for him. “I only have friends who love me and come to visit me, but even then I feel lonely,” explains Eduardo, who admits he has been alone all his life, but things are different now. “What if I fall? What about tasks that I can no longer do?” he asks worriedly.
A lot will change once he leaves the hospital, where he won’t have to worry about selling his taxi license, getting around town with a walker, or not being able to go to the supermarket to do his usual shopping. In fact, the doctors told him that he could not live alone, so his home would be the apartment of Pilar, a friend he met as a child in his city and with whom he interacted again as an adult. “She is happier to see me than I am to go out. She’s a good friend… Although I would like another friend,” he jokes.
New life marked by COVID
As soon as you insert the key into the lock, you begin to hear the piercing barks of Lucas and Nina, Pilar’s two chihuahuas. And Eduardo is drooling. He hasn’t taken his first step into the house yet, but he’s already crouching, leaning on his walker to stroke the heads of the dogs that jump up to meet him and lick his hands nonstop. “Do you remember me?” It’s a question she won’t stop asking all day long as dogs nestle in her lap. “I was very afraid that they would not recognize me. When I saw them, I got most fired up before going outside,” admits Eduardo, who already wants to take them outside.
Walking with Lucas and Nina is one of the few things that Eduardo is sure will become part of his daily routine. “I don’t know what I will do tomorrow. Go shopping, I guess,” he says doubtfully. A world of opportunity opens up before him, and in turn, limits that put up barriers to the dreams and expectations he had before his life came to a halt due to COVID. One of his passions is driving: in addition to being disabled, he also has his driver’s license revoked. And although the doctors told him that he could recover, he was not all right. “What did you like to ride,” Pilar laments.
But Eduardo’s body had changed, as had the city he knew so well. But the fact is that on the way to Pilar’s house, this former taxi driver was confused several times with testimony. “How not to turn around? Two years ago, this street was in the other direction,” he complains, looking out the window at the streets he knew by heart. Another thing that will remain in the drawer for now is travel. He was really looking forward to going to Iceland, but “I won’t be alarmed. Where to go with a walker and a crutch? What if I fall into a ravine? he asks, laughing. “Take your time. The least important right now is travel. What’s the most important? “I don’t know… Eat some lamb ribs!” he exclaims.
And the thing is, even though he says the hospital food wasn’t bad at all, two years later he’s fed up. “Yesterday they brought me that fish that they give you, which they double because it doesn’t fit on a plate, and I didn’t even see it,” he admits. Eating, walking, meeting friends again and an endless list of errands will take up Eduardo’s first days of freedom, but he still won’t get rid of the doctors as he will have to continue rehab to regain all the lost muscle mass and solve other extensions that COVID has left. him.
Eduardo’s face is riddled with scars that leave eternal memories of masks and intubations, and ulcers mark his knees from lying face down in a coma for months. But, in addition, his diabetes worsened, lung capacity decreased, and other parts of the body, such as vision, teeth or liver, suffered from long hospitalization. “You have to take care of yourself. You must go to CAP to take a look. Compared to what you used to be, now you’re terrible! – Pilar reproaches him out of confidence in friendship.
But it’s clear to Eduardo that while “I only have words of gratitude for medical professionals, I hope I never step on a doctor again,” he says when he suddenly realizes he’s still wearing a hospital bracelet. Now it can be removed, after twenty-six months. But still it is not so. “I’m used to it. I’ll take it off,” he mutters, caressing it and wrapping it around his wrist.
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