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Betty & Dan: A COVID-19 story


blurred image of older couple looking at tablet

When Betty Fyshe found out she had COVID-19 she hit the floor - “figuratively, not literally.” After nearly two months of feeling so ill that at times she couldn’t get out of bed, she’d finally gone to a test centre with the help of her husband Dan. They were immediately sent to the emergency department. It was scary - Dan had to drop her off and was then left trying to get details. Was she in ICU? Could she come home? In the end, Betty just stayed until her chest x-ray came back clear. Then, she was free to go home with Dan to isolate and recover.

At home with Betty and Dan

Betty and Dan have called a lot of places home since getting together in 1968 - including Moncton, Saint John, and Montreal. Now, home is Barrie, where family and volunteer work have been keeping them busy. Betty’s volunteered for over 20 years at Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH), the Red Cross, and her kid’s schools. She’s been the convener in the ICU at RVH for three years, supervising volunteers and making sure things run smoothly. “People have been telling me to slow down for years,” Betty recalls.

Even while recovering from COVID-19, Betty found it strange having so little to do. “I used to be so busy,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do with myself.” She and Dan have found a routine now, though. They garden, read, keep in touch with their kids and grand kids, and watch re-runs on TV. And Betty and Dan have each other. “We have been through a lot in our 50 years,” Dan comments. But he maintains that while there have been tough times, they’ve always found meaning in their challenges and fortunes.

In fact, one night during Betty’s recovery from COVID-19, Dan woke up feeling similar symptoms to his heart attack a couple years ago. Betty called an ambulance and they took him to the hospital right away. Of course, she couldn’t go with him. Thankfully, Dan was not having a heart attack. Once the doctors ran tests they concluded that his symptoms were actually brought on by his worry for Betty. Together, they continued to get healthy at home.

Getting a financial health check-up

In the midst of managing their health, Betty and Dan started looking at their finances. They knew their mortgage was up for renewal and they’d been talking about changing their wills. Betty and Dan also reached out to Meridian to look into a Home Equity Line of Credit, which could free up money. That way, when they called their lawyer to start planning for the future, including funeral arrangements, they knew they could prepay for some of that with their new line of credit. “Life changes on a dime,”Betty says. “I didn’t want my kids to be responsible, or either Dan and I, [for those arrangements] during a hard time like that.”

Betty and Dan also plan to use their new line of credit for some home maintenance. They want to stay there as long as possible, since the mortgage is cheaper than renting. They’re looking into changes like adding a chair lift - to make sure their home is as accessible as possible.

Learning from COVID-19

Looking back on the past few months, Betty comments that she and Dan “have been very fortunate through all of this, both personally and financially, because we are lucky enough to have a pension.” They’ve also happily discovered that even cooped up at home, without the volunteer work that usually keeps them busy, they enjoy their time together and don’t get on each other’s nerves.

There were challenging times of course - particularly when one of them was in hospital and the other couldn’t visit. There have been bright spots too, though. Betty and Dan have new plans for the future, summer is finally bringing some sunshine, and their family are all healthy - in fact, they’re looking forward to the birth of their fourth great-grandchild at the end of June!

And of course, both Betty and Dan are hoping to return to volunteering as soon as they can.

 

Learn more about managing during COVID-19

6 tips if you’ve lost your job due to COVID-19

How one Uxbridge company is brewing up business during COVID-19

Should you defer your mortgage and loan payments?

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