COVID-19 collateral cost: San Jose woman faces painful wait for surgery

Editor’s note: This story is part of the annual Mosaic Journalism Workshop for Bay Area high school students, a two-week intensive course at journalism. Students in this year’s virtual program report and photograph real stories under the guidance of professional journalists.


When COVID-19 first began to spread, Diana Vergara had to postpone major surgery that she had scheduled.

Diana Vergara, who has Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis medical condition, is photographed at her home in San Jose, Calif., on June 18, 2020. Photographed by Linda Diaz 

Vergara, 48, of San Jose, is still waiting for the day that it is safe for her to get this surgery, although she is nervous about it. “We are not going to be 100% over the virus, and I am more prone to it, which is worrying,” Vergara said.

Vergara has severe acid reflux. She needs surgery to fix it, but her doctor wants to wait to see if a liquid diet will cure the situation without having to operate during the pandemic.

Now, Vergara sits in her $5,000 medical bed at home for most of the day. Since she has severe acid reflux, she cannot properly lay down because the acid building up inside of her can kill her. Instead, she sleeps in a sitting position, which she finds more than uncomfortable.

Vergara now has appointments two to four times a month at Stanford Hospital, to get lab tests done and medication administered. Her husband drives her there because her pain is so severe that it is hard to concentrate. Every appointment lasts around five to six hours. It is lonely being there because due to COVID-19 precautions, she cannot have any family members with her to support her. When she is at the hospital, the one thing that cheers Vergara up is being able to talk to her girls, Linda, 15, and Paloma, 7.

Due to the spread of COVID-19 and her underlying health conditions, Vergara has been advised by her doctor to stay at home. Her husband buys the groceries for the household. As soon as he is home, he immediately sprays his shoes in Lysol. He then takes off all of the clothing that he used to shop and washes it. Finally, he takes a shower to get rid of all of the other germs.

Being bedridden, she feels she is missing precious times with her two youngest daughters. Her days are filled with sitting in bed, eating Beech-Nut baby food pouches, and drinking Crystal Geyser water. This diet has caused her to lose 35 pounds. On days in which she has more strength, Vergara will cook dinner with her daughter Linda.

Vergara often has days in which she cannot stand to stay home anymore. Since she must maintain strict isolation, she gets in her car and drives around to break the monotony. She drives to Mount Hamilton, or around Lake Anderson near Morgan Hill, listening to Prince, Cyndi Lauper and other music from the ’80s. Though she’s struggling, these rides give her some enjoyment.

Vergara is tired of waiting for her surgery because it has caused a major setback to her health. But for the moment, there is nothing she can do but wait.

Cassandra Rosales is a rising sophomore at Cristo Rey San José Jesuit High School.

Source: mercurynews
COVID-19 collateral cost: San Jose woman faces painful wait for surgery