(CNN)When a family member is hospitalized with Covid-19, often a single relative is chosen to be the primary line of communication between doctors and the rest of the family. CNN Producer Lou Foglia took on this role when his father was hospitalized. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta invites Lou to share excerpts from the essay he wrote about that experience.
Like Riding a Roller Coaster in the Dark: Dr. Sanjay Gupta's coronavirus podcast for June 1
You can listen on your favorite podcast app or read the transcript below.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta and this is "Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction."
As you now know, an astounding number of people have died of Covid-19. And for every one of those people, there are also family and friends who have navigated the hospital system, the rapidly changing information on this virus and who are now grieving their loss.
My colleague Lou Foglia is, unfortunately, one of those people. Lou lost his father to Covid-19, and he recently wrote an essay for CNN about what it was like just coping with the logistics, the reality, the things that we don't often talk about but certainly do arise when your family member is in the hospital.
Lou was the one in charge of all the communication with doctors about his father's condition, which meant he was also the one who had to figure out how then to relay that information, as tragic as it would be, to his family and friends.
Lou's words are powerful, and they reflect the experience of so many people right now, so today I wanted to have Lou share his story.
Lou Foglia, CNN Producer: I decided to write this piece in as much vivid detail as possible, even though they're very painful memories for me, because Covid-19 I know is a very new virus. And people who haven't experienced it, who haven't had a family member go through this ordeal, I don't think they appreciate the sort of roller-coaster ride it is in the dark. It's like riding a roller coaster in the dark. There's no game plan. There's no protocol. There's very few resources.
And I wanted to make that tangible for people to let them know what families who've been afflicted by this are going through and maybe to reconsider how they communicate with those families.
I hope it has some impact.
My father had been on a ventilator for 11 days when the attending physician at the intensive care unit called and asked whether they should include a do-not-resuscitate order in his chart. They had asked before. I had been indecisive. A successful resuscitation would extend his life. But it might also lead to brain damage.
Now multiple organ systems were failing. They needed an answer.
"What are the odds he survives?" It was the first time I allowed myself that question.
"If it continues in this direction," the doctor told me, "we're talking about a single-digit chance of survival."
I was in the backyard of my mother's house in the Bronx, New York. She had rushed him to the hospital after his mild Covid-19 symptoms quickly developed into breathing problems.
Since then she was in quarantine with her own mild symptoms. My brother, uncle and I sat on her back porch every day and kept her company through the window. We avoided contact, wore masks and went through bottles of hand sanitizer. No one had entered the house since her quarantine began.
I suspected that my father had a will and a health care directive inside. I put on my mask and gloves and entered my childhood home for the first time in weeks. My mother barely registered my presence. She was crying on the couch.
I entered my father's home office and opened his filing cabinet. It was alphabetized. I found a file labeled "Will." There were several documents inside. I learned that my father was planning to bequeath me his law school ring. I had steeled myself for this grim search — for this whole weeks-long nightmare — but that revelation blew away my composure. I kept searching. I found the health care directive. It was clear. Do not resuscitate.