COVID 19, Ventilator, I Survived

COVID 19, Ventilator, I Survived

The past six weeks have been a blur. On March 7st, I came down with a slight fever and thought nothing of it. By Thursday, March 12th, after a temperature of 100.3 each of the last few days, I called my doctor. We discussed that I may or may not have Corona, but we would treat it the same either way. Stay hydrated, take Tylenol for the fever, rest.

As a bit of a geek, well maybe more than a bit of a geek, in February when I first became aware of Corona, I purchase a Pulse Oxygen meter that you click on your finger. It reports your blood oxidation level and pulse. On Sunday, when my Oxygen saturation level dropped into the eighties, my internist told me to go to the emergency room.  I tested positive for COVID 19 and was intubated.

Eight days later, I woke up in the ICU with no memory of the ventilator or the past eight days. For my family, the eight days were terrifying. Fortunately, my wife and I have close friends that work at the hospital and an outstanding primary care physician that helped support her and my kids by translating the technical details and explaining the next steps. From what I now understand, my time on the ventilator was anything but dull with many ups and downs. As I understand it, I experienced an overreaction of my body's immune system called a cytokine storm.

With the support of my friends, I was at a world-class teaching hospital where they actively fine-tune their patient's care while on ventilators and treat for both COVID and potential side effects of COVID. We all hear terrible stories of hospitals where patients are placed on ventilation with a hope and a prayer that their bodies will fight the virus. These patients often die.

I realize I am fortunate. I live in an upper-middle-class neighborhood with friends in a range of specialties at the teaching hospital that managed my care. I am sure the hospital treats all patients the same. Still, I ended up at this world-class hospital, which is not the closest to my house because my friends understand better than me the hospital, the hospital staffing levels, experience, equipment, and the team of doctors and nurses taking care of you all make a difference.

I have been home now for about two and one-half weeks.   The first few days, I was quite weak, and my internist was fine-tuning my blood pressure medication.   Once this resolved, my strength improved a bit, and with help from my niece, who is an outstanding PT, my recovery moved forward.   I found my large muscle function, and my balance returned in days.  My fine motor skills took a bit longer, and my endurance is lagging far behind.  My friends who are doctors and my internist assure me this is normal, but warn me it will be months before my lungs fully recover.  Right now, walking fast feels like running, and my heart rate jumps rapidly.  To play it safe, my internist wants me to keep my heart rate below 120 during this phase of my recovery.

Over the past six weeks, I dropped out of my everyday life.  I did not publish any DrVax videos and didn't even reply to comments.  I ignored my taxes, bills, and many emails.  I am ready to slowly begin engagement with life and expect to publish a DrVax update this week.

There is no appropriate way to thank the doctors and nurse that saved my life, my family, and my friends supporting my family for your kindness.

Now back to work.