REGGIO EMILIA. “Call the ambulance, I can’t breathe, I can’t take it anymore.” When Giuseppe Paduano – well-known pizza chef from Reggio, owner of the pizzeria-restaurant in Cavriago for twenty years and of the Pizzeria Piccola Delfino alla Pappagnocca for another 25 – thus turned to his daughter Emanuela, on 31 December 2020, he did not know what it would be. success. Of course he knew it was Covid’s fault that he couldn’t breathe and had a high fever for several days now, but he never imagined staying in the hospital for almost a year. “When my dad entered he was 68 years old – says his daughter – and he left last Tuesday, September 21, at 69”.
Months of great suffering and fear, punctuated by phone calls from doctors, who on more than three occasions told the family to prepare for a farewell, because Giuseppe would not have made it.
«My dad had no health problems – says his daughter Emanuela, returning to the beginning of this story, fortunately with a happy ending – he had had a heart attack about ten years before but he was fine. On the contrary, he was worried about me, that I have some health problem instead, and he was very careful because he did not want to take and transmit Covid to me. Instead – her eyes are veiled with tears – it was I who brought him into the house, for a lightness ».
A sense of guilt that has never abandoned her, and that now pushed her to tell the story of her father’s battle: «I burst with joy because, against all expectations, my dad made it. I am grateful to the doctors who treated him and to all those who were close to me. But above all I hope that this testimony serves to warn those who, even today, believe that Covid does not exist or that it is not dangerous “.
THE ODYSSEY IN THE HOSPITAL
«My dad – says Emanuela – is a miracle worker. Doctors said his was the longest hospital stay ever. And this is because, in addition to having interstitial pneumonia from Covid, he also had other infections and severe kidney failure. Yet he is here, he made it, it is a miracle ».
On December 31, 2020, Giuseppe arrives in the emergency room with “crumbling lungs”, as if they were made of polystyrene. He stays in the infectious disease ward for two to three days, during which he hears by telephone and video calls his daughter Emanuela, his wife Lina and his large family (in addition to Emanuela he has two other children, Massimo and Roberto, a daughter-in-law, Morena, and six grandchildren). Parameters worsen, he is transferred to pulmonology. She leaves the oxygen mask and wears the helmet, she needs the tube to eat and drink. For another three days the phone calls continue, even if his voice is heard from afar, then Giuseppe does not answer anymore. «I called him three times – remembers Emanuela – and three times he didn’t answer me. Then at the fourth someone put it down. It was the moment they took him to ICU. ‘
In that ward, first intubated and then tracheotomized, he remained for three months. “Three months in which I never separated from my cell phone, because the doctors called once a day for updates. And every phone call was a stab in the heart. When he lay on his back for two days in a row, we exulted, then the cold shower came: “We had to pronate him.” More than once they told us that he would not make it, that there was no longer any hope ».
Giuseppe, however, overcomes the most critical moments and is transferred to the semi-intensive care unit: «He had severe kidney failure but they were thinking of transferring him to Correggio to begin rehabilitation – says Emanuela – then his fever returned. New infections, septicemia risk, we are back to hell ».
Eventually Giuseppe arrives in Correggio in April. There he begins the rehabilitation process (respiratory and motor), he stops the drugs and the morphine that he had to take for nine months, regaining – one step at a time – his autonomy. «It was not easy – says his daughter – but he is a rock and has an incredible willpower. He worked hard, he did rehabilitation alone even on Saturdays and Sundays. He said that it is for us that he wants to live … ».
DREAM AND HOPE
While Giuseppe (“assisted by the doctors whom I sincerely thank, all of them, especially Dr. Monica Massobrio and Dr. Alessandro Scarascia, in Correggio”) fought on the hospital bed, Emanuela fought at home.
“I kept hoping, but every day my dad got worse or added some difficulties. If I managed to overcome this nightmare it is thanks to the friends who have been close to me, to my colleagues and superiors (when my dad got sick I had recently been hired by Farmacie Comunali Riunite) and to faith. I was already a believer, but thanks to my friend Eddy I realized I really had to entrust myself. One evening, after praying with him, I dreamed of my dad: he was without tubes, he was fine, he was my dad again. And that’s how I saw him again, in the end ».
The last blow arrived in Correggio, when Giuseppe had already started rehabilitation: «I went to him in tears, I could finally see him again – remembers Emanuela – but he did not recognize me. The doctors explained to me that patients like my father often suffer from neurological damage and no one knows if and when it can be overcome. He was with me physically, but it wasn’t him. It was a huge pain. Then from one day to the next he recovered: he smiled at me, told me he was fine. He thought it was only a week since his hospitalization and, seeing himself in a wheelchair, he asked me if he had been in an accident. I explained to him that it was Covid, and that it was not December but May 22nd. He was very happy for his car, he thought he had destroyed it »laughs Emanuela.
THE HAPPY END
Last Tuesday, finally, Giuseppe returned home. To welcome him a billboard: “Welcome back Nonnet” (his nickname) and a bottle of sparkling wine to toast. There were the children, the grandchildren and of course his great love, Lina. But he was in his room and made him wait for a few minutes in the living room: he had to finish getting ready for the most beautiful embrace of a lifetime.
© REPRODUCTION RESERVED