COVID From My Perspective
August 12, 2020 | View PDF
As an EMT, and a reasonably intelligent person, when I learned about COVID-19, my initial thoughts were: “We just don’t know enough about this virus, so I should proceed with caution, not fear, to protect myself, my family and others that I come in contact with.”
My perspective was affirmed with a vengeance when my husband contracted COVID from a co-worker. I felt shock and dismay at the number of people whom he had been in contact with, before he was even aware that he had been exposed: co-workers, family, friends, neighbors, etc.
My heart literally broke as I watched a strong, healthy man be reduced to weakness, exhaustion, and gasping for breath. Two years ago he had suffered from atypical viral pneumonia, and it had left his lungs weaker from that battle. I believe that this opened a door for the virus.
My response was to do all that I could to prevent further contamination and spread. We wore masks everywhere, especially in our house. We separated within our home; he in his own bedroom and bathroom, and me in mine. We stayed isolated at our home for six weeks. I cleaned with a fury like no other. Door knobs, light switches, counters, appliances, furniture, bedding, towels, autos, EVERYTHING.
His battle began as most viruses do; body aches, chills, sweats, cough, but no fever. It quickly changed within a few days, when his lips turned gray, and he was struggling to catch his breath.
Without regard for anything but getting him help, I drove him to Billings to get pulmonologist support. He was admitted to an infectious disease controlled hospital room, given IVs of anti-biotics and anti-viral meds, as well as breathing treatments for 5 days.
On the second day of his admission, he fought a fever to the extreme. The hospital staff could not get his temperature to register on any thermometers. The highest any could read was 104 degrees, and his fever was higher than that. He had absolutely no white blood cells, due to his body trying to fight the virus. He required 5L of oxygen to support his breathing. For hours, the staff worked hard to help him break that fever to no avail, until, at the direction of the top COVID doctor, they gave him convalescent plasma. These are the anti-bodies from a person who has recovered from COVID. In less than 12 hours from receiving the transfusion, when the lab tested his blood at 4:30 AM, his white blood count was completely normal, and he was breathing room air only.
Due to the highly contagious nature of this virus, I had to leave him in Billings for his hospital stay, while I returned home to clean. My only thought was to make sure that it would be a safe and disinfected place for him to return.
So it came as no surprise when I tested positive for COVID, as I had been in such close quarters in the car taking him to Billings, and while waiting in the ER before he was admitted. My symptoms were nothing compared to his. I lost my sense of taste and smell, and had an occasional headache, although I regained them within 9 days.
Throughout this entire ordeal, time moved slowly. We never felt more isolated, exhausted, hopeless, or excluded from life. At the same time, we have never felt more blessed or loved. Family, friends, and colleagues from across all of Montana and beyond reached out to us. Everyone asked, “Is there anything I can do for you? Let me know if you need anything!” They helped me clean our vehicles, did our yardwork, brought us our mail, meals, medicine, supplies, groceries, sent us cards, mailed us care packages of cleaning supplies and masks, and transported him back home from Billings. Most importantly, they prayed with us, and for us.
After returning home, my husband slowly regained his strength, however still battled with the persistent coughs. I reached out again to the COVID team in Billings, and they conducted a telemedicine appointment with him. They determined that due to the severity of pneumonia in his lungs, he would need to be aggressively treated for severe asthma. His condition improved as his lungs responded positively to the meds and treatments. Even though he still coughed, they told us that the active virus is no longer contagious, and that the dead cells were simply shedding. We could finally see a potential end to this journey.
We cannot express our gratitude enough for everyone who helped us throughout this ordeal. We’d like to especially thank our employers who allowed us to work remotely, and the health department personnel were so kind and knowledgeable. They checked in with us every single day.
As a front row witness and survivor to COVID-19, I continue to count my blessings for life, family, friends, and health. My faith carried me through this unimaginable nightmare. I am so deeply compelled to help someone else who’s facing this, that I have donated my plasma for another COVID patient who may require this life saving treatment. In this way, especially in our world of fear, confusion, madness, and disease, I am able to pay forward the blessings and love that we experienced.