Wife says: 'It kills me that I can't help him'

‘But there is no coronavirus,’ shocked cynic told doctors, waking up in hospital

Alin Zaraabel is praying for the life of her 51-year-old husband, in serious condition for a month now, at the mercy of a virus they both doubted was real

Nathan Jeffay is The Times of Israel's health and science correspondent

David Vodiansky, right, with his wife Alin Zaraabel (Courtesy of Alin Zaraabel)
David Vodiansky, right, with his wife Alin Zaraabel (Courtesy of Alin Zaraabel)

In a single morning this week, four patients died in the coronavirus department where David Vodiansky has been hospitalized for more than a month. His wife says all she can do is pray.

Saturday will be his 52nd birthday, but Alin Zaraabel has resigned herself to the fact that she won’t be able to congratulate him, and neither will the couple’s two teenage children. He is sedated and connected to a breathing machine.

Zaraabel’s teary interview with The Times of Israel took place Tuesday at the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya. She admits that both she and her husband were big coronavirus cynics until the morning of August 31, when he was raced from their home in Ma’alot-Tarshiha to the hospital. They don’t know how he became infected.

“I just didn’t believe in coronavirus,” she said. “I thought it was all politics. I was sure it was nonsense, and even made faces when people mentioned it.”

The effects of COVID-19, known to stubbornly stay with some patients for long periods, have refused to subside in her husband. And while he isn’t currently getting worse, he isn’t showing consistent improvement either.

“Things change from day to day, sometimes they get better and sometimes worse,” Zaraabel said, noting that Vodiansky’s symptoms extend beyond breathing problems. “On some days his kidneys are working well, on other days not so well.”

Illustrative: a doctor with a patient who is complaining of breathing problems during the pandemic (Drazen Zigic bu iSTock via Getty Images)

Vodiansky’s condition is classed as serious. When he came around after first being sedated, he didn’t know where he was, and when told, had difficulty absorbing it.

“When they reduced his sedative and he came around, they said to him, ‘Do you know where you are? You’re in the coronavirus ward,'” Zaraabel recounted. “He said: ‘It’s not possible, there’s no coronavirus; it’s just politics.’ They replied: ‘So what are you doing here?'”

The control room at Galilee Medical Center’s coronavirus department (courtesy of Galilee Medical Center)

Vodiansky is a computer engineer with no known pre-existing health issues apart from high blood pressure.

“On August 30 we went and walked in Nahariya, we had a great day, and then at night he said he felt pressure in his chest,” Zaraabel said. “Then, at 8 a.m. the next morning, he had difficulty breathing and we called an ambulance. He has been in the hospital ever since.”

“It’s the coronavirus intensive care and I can’t go there, and anyway he can’t talk. I just speak to the nurses, who kindly explain, over and over again, how he is doing. There is just me, him and the kids in our family and, of course, I’m worried.

“It kills me that I can’t help him. I can do nothing but pray,” she said.

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