Lisa and Dolly in good spirits at home.

District 4's Lisa Kidd embracing
telecommuting and serving as caregiver
during crisis

During this time, job titles go out the window as we all contribute in unexpected ways. For D4’s Lisa Kidd, that means her usual job as a TRS1 in charge of accounts payable and property-damage reports, has become secondary to her new role as caregiver and spirit-lifter for her elderly mother-in-law, Dolly, who has been dealing with Covid-19 symptoms since April 1.

Kidd started telecommuting on March 24, the day before the Gov’s “Stay at Home” order. Kidd was filled with anxiety at the time, hoping she wasn’t bringing anything home to her husband, who was still recovering from two surgeries. Lisa had some immune-system issues of her own she was understandable concerned about. Then Dolly started complaining of feeling sick as well. Although they first thought it might just be allergies, it persisted, and since Dolly had been a nurse for 53 years, they listened intently.

Dolly went to the drive-thru testing center in Twin Falls on April 3, but they didn’t test her because she was not showing enough of the signs. It continued to progress, and on March 7 when Lisa and her husband went to take her cough drops, they heard Dolly coughing before they even got to the door.

“It was an unbelievably deep and rough cough,” Lisa said. ”I opened her door to check on her. She was lying on the couch and couldn't get up. She was so pale and weak. She had declined very rapidly since I talked to her at noon.”

Lisa grabbed Dolly’s keys and helped her to her own car, then drove to a testing center and then to the Emergency Room at the local hospital. Even as they tested her, the doctor was diagnosing her as “presumptive positive” for covid-19 based on her symptoms. The doctor said she while she was very ill, she was not quite to the point of being admitted. He was also nervous about sending her home alone, so the choice was obvious.  Lisa, a Critical Incident Stress Management volunteer with the department, made the decision to don a mask and be with Dolly. “I could care for her as I was already exposed, and have Emergency Medical Technician/Certified Nursing experience,” Lisa said.

“We sent my husband, John, home to move into the camp trailer so that he was not exposed and could keep running our auto repair shop. He just had back to back surgeries in Feb & March and is still recovering from that so I was very worried about his immune system as well, not to mention still trying to recover financially from him being out for the last six weeks with unexpected dual surgeries,” Lisa explained.

Lisa, a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) volunteer with the department, made the decision to don a mask and be with Dolly.

“I could care for her as I was already exposed, and have Emergency Medical Technician/Certified Nursing experience,” Lisa said.

Above: Lisa and John at Twin Falls park.

The usual stressors had multiplied, rapidly. All of the ingredients were there for COVID-19 Lisa says. “Dolly feels good for an hour or two, and then is very sick again. She’s 80 years old and very high risk, so we are being super, super careful with her. She is weary from coughing, is extremely exhausted, and is nauseated quite often. She sleeps a good portion of each day. I feel so terrible for her,”

“The tests came back negative, but even the doctor was skeptical that it was a false negative. He said up to one in three negative are actually positive as the test is not incredibly accurate. We have to assume that she has it, so that we don't inadvertently spread it. Whether she has it or not, she needs our help.” Lisa is still continuing to care for her and will as long as necessary. “This new normal doesn’t feel very normal at all

“We did Easter Dinner yesterday with Dolly and I sitting at a table that I moved next to the living room window. John moved the picnic table outside by the window and we were all able to eat together that way. It was rather sobering to think of how many families have been separated by this and not even able to be together at all. We are so very blessed right now. I still have a great job, my husband is able to work as we have kept him away, my mother-in-law is slowly recovering, and we are all here to tell the tale. So many families have had it so much worse than we have and my heart just aches for the world right now.”

 “I am always available as I know first had what this is like. Please help us remind people that there is no shame in needing to talk or feeling stressed about this. We are reaching out to ANYONE who could use a little comfort in all of this craziness that is turning our world upside down. We are all learning to navigate this day by day.” 

Pictured, right: Lisa and John prepare to back out an elk in Stanley on a typically frigid morning in winter 2016.

Q & A with Lisa Kidd, D4

What have been the biggest challenges/obstacles?

The biggest challenge has been the fear of the unknown, especially with a very ill elderly loved one. She is gradually getting better, but was so incredibly sick. I was so afraid that I would get up in the morning and she wouldn't. I was terrified that she would get worse and would end up on a ventilator. I have been afraid of my husband or I getting it and the ramifications of that. This is scary and a very alone feeling given the isolation of quarantine. It is not like after you have surgery and people can bring you dinners. She and I have fought this alone. There are plenty of phone calls and e-mails, but it is still alone. I am very concerned for people who are alone and have no one to jump in and help.

What will you love most about going back to work, whenever that is?
This is a hard question. I am a huge introvert and absolutely love working from home. I love being able to be here and spend time with my mother in law. Even before being sick we have always gotten along fantastically and I think we are even closer after this. I love that I was so very lucky with ITD that I have been able to work and care for her simultaneously. I do miss my coworkers. I have a fantastic boss and coworkers who have been incredibly supportive in the last week and I value all of them so very much.

What do you most like about being able to spend more time with family?
I am so very thankful to still have my job and be able to creatively work through this. ITD has been so fantastic in trying to work through this and still stay essential. I am so impressed at the logistics of all that has taken place here in a very short time.

What have you noticed that you would call a “Silver Lining” to this situation?
Since the beginning of this "apocalypse" I have been helping secure needed items for elderly, low income, and young parents who could not find toilet paper, diapers, wipes, Lysol, etc. I have amassed a huge network of local people who have helped out in this. There has been an incredible sense of unity in neighbors helping neighbors. I have been able to barter for items and arrange deliveries for people who couldn't get out. No matter what is needed, people are willing to jump in and help. Sadly, I have seen a few people trying to take advantage of this, but overall it has been an incredibly positive experience. I truly do feel like we are more united in this overall. I really pray that this can continue even after this is over.

Published 04-17-20