Tom Caffrey of The 13th Apostle recovers from COVID-19
Tom Caffrey is a co-host, along with Dan Duddy, of The 13th Apostle, which airs on WQPH every Saturday at 11:30 AM.
Tom recently contracted the COVID-19 Coronavirus along with members of his family. He shared about this difficult trial on this past Saturday’s show (April 4th), and he graciously agreed to the following interview…
First, how are you feeling today? And how are your family members?
After almost a week and a half of difficulties, I think I’ve finally turned the corner. Today was the first full day since becoming ill that my symptoms were noticeably better—including having some energy! Thanks be to God my daughter, Maureen, has fully recovered, after being ill for two weeks. She lives and works in New York City, and was suffering greatly while all alone in a tiny apartment. So I happily drove up there to bring her home, and we’ve enjoyed and loved each other’s company during our quarantine.
Can you describe the onset of the symptoms? How does the virus progress?
I had significant gastrointestinal distress, and thought it was from eating popcorn (which I rarely eat); but the problems worsened the next day, to include aches from head to toe, chest tightness, rash, deep fatigue, weakness and insomnia.
What was the process of getting medical attention like? How were you treated?
When the problems persisted past several days I called my doctor for a telemedicine evaluation (they wouldn’t see me in the office for fear of contagion), and after describing the symptoms and the time-linkage with my daughter he diagnosed Covid-19. He said no test kits were available. And before I could ask about Chloroquine, the only medicine shown to have some beneficial effect on the virus, he said, “Good luck trying to find any Chloroquine, as there’s none available.” He said the best scenario would be for me to manage the virus and symptoms with nutrition, hydration, over the counter medicine and rest, until it ran its course and left me. Otherwise, I would need the hospital.
What was it like to go from observing the outbreak to being directly affected by it?
Humbling, because I was fairly fit leading into it and thought I would easily withstand the virus; confusing, because of the many mixed messages I heard through the media; and, depressing, because of the gloom and doom in that same media (which I soon stopped watching and reading).
What was your dialogue with God like, having not only been infected, but also having loved ones infected, and during this very difficult time when access to the Sacraments is very limited? How did you cope spiritually?
I initially prayed fervently for Maureen’s healing, and for my son, Kevin, who is teaching at a school in Saudi Arabia in a town next to the epicenter of the outbreak in that country and who was having some corona-like symptoms. Saudi Arabia permits no Christianity; so I prayed for his spiritual communion with his Catholic faith, knowing that he was first to experience no access to the Sacraments at such a difficult time.
When I became ill I continued praying the daily Rosary, but with a bit more urgency, and prayed in conversation with God to heal me so I could be there for my children and to continue doing work for Him. Like any normal father, I don’t want to worry my children with a serious illness. I also prayed in part to keep the “dark thoughts” away.
Ultimately, I prayed that the outcome of my children’s experiences and mine—come what may—would glorify God. I eagerly joined with our Holy Father and my fellow Catholics during his worldwide Rosary, Lord’s Prayer and Urbi et Orbi. Knowing I was in Spiritual Communion with the universal Church through deep prayer greatly encouraged and uplifted me. And those prayers were answered, by the loving and helpful actions I received from my children, my true and devoted friends (beginning with my co-host, Dan Duddy) and others. As much as I greatly miss the Holy sacrifice of the Mass, I know our Lord’s presence is not limited to that Sacrament—because He is not limited.
With Easter approaching, do you have any new insights to share with how to appreciate our Lord’s resurrection during times of uncertainty and tribulation?
While dealing with other difficulties, I learned from my spiritual director, Sister Pat Dotzauer, SC, how to invite Jesus into my experience for the help only He can provide; and the help He provides, she said, comes after I join each of my struggles with His passion. So I have done that during this period, however imperfectly, and then imagine my recovery similar to the Apostles’ in the context of their eventual jubilation at His Resurrection.
For more information, we invite you to listen to the recent episodes of The 13th Apostle. Also, be sure to check out Tom’s book, A Boy for All Seasons, but a Man…?: Boys Need a Hero’s Journey to Reach Virtuous Manhood.