Summary after 147 days in medical facilities

After COVID-19 – June 2, 2021

We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers… (1 Thess.1:2)

This is Doug writing this. I am not the Queen of Updates like Mary has come to be. But I will do my best.

I am grateful to God Almighty for saving my life and answering the many, many prayers brought before Him concerning me. People died all around me during the height of the pandemic in SoCal, but I did not. All glory to YHWH!

Thank you. First of all, I wish to thank each one of you for each and every time you prayed for me. Whether the prayer was prolonged or whispered, organized or spontaneous, I appreciate each time that you thought of me and asked God for my healing. I could do very little to improve my health – and, at times, was helpless to do anything. God was absolutely and totally responsible for my recovery. Medical staff had done all they could do. God – the Creator of all life, the Author and Sustainer of faith – answered prayers and breathed new breath into my lungs.

I also want to thank every doctor, every nurse, every assistant, every therapist, every housekeeping engineer, every maintenance person, every floor-mopper, every cook and assistant, every EMT and ambulance driver, every firefighter who came to my house, and especially Capt. Rich Tolle for being the first person through my door when Mary called 9-1-1 on December 28 and January 1. His voice and smile were God’s comfort in a very scary time.

Home. I am so glad to be home. I thank God for each second of life that I have been given, but my life is enriched by being in the presence of Mary, family, close friends, neighbors, good friends, and even people that I do not personally know but they know me. I knew that the people on our ten-house cul-de-sac were close, but I did not realize how close we were until my illness. My neighbors are as close as family.

Welcome celebration. My welcome home celebration on Sapphire Street on Thursday afternoon saw almost a hundred people holding signs and cheering, and those who could not be there but were there in spirit added to the joy and adrenaline rush that I felt. I had just commented to Mary that I used to walk on this street when I saw the sun reflect off one of the metallic balloons held by family up ahead. My energy ramped up and I made up for five months of not talking in that brief five minute drive up Sapphire Street.

Alone. I spent 147 days – exactly 21 weeks – in medical facilities. In rehab, I progressed and relapsed and progressed and relapsed. I had two underlying conditions: I have Type 2 diabetes and I like The Carpenters. I did not see or touch my sweet wife for 78 days from the first day I was admitted – January 1, 2021. At that point, I was ready to give up. I was totally discouraged, more than I have ever been discouraged in my life. I have never felt like I’ve had a mental breakdown until that day. (I asked Kaiser to trim my Howard Hughes nails, but they could neither locate clippers or scissors to do the job. So, I volunteered my “personal groomer” to come and complete the task. So, I saw Mary under false pretenses on March 19. It also happened to fall concurrently on the week that Kaiser allowed one visitor to see patients, but I like my story better.)

Speaking of personal grooming, I did not cut my beard for five months. Mary’s daughter cut my hair in March. Some nurse had braided it when I was on the ventilator and threaded a blue rubber band into it. It was dirty and matted and falling out. Today, my neighbor trimmed my beard of five months’ growth and washed my hair; I feel human again!!! Before I felt like The Old Man and the Sea.

MY PHYSICAL STATE

January to May. Between January and May, I lost 62 pounds. Many of you may not know how close to heaven I was. I never saw a light or a tunnel or felt a room filled with an overpowering sense of love or crossed a river of Gilead… but the door (according to C.S. Lewis) was within reach. (I did not know any of the following happened to me until Mary slowly revealed the depth of my ordeal.) I was admitted on New Years Day with an oxygen saturation level of 80% (90 or above is acceptable.) I was intubated and placed on a ventilator from January 15 to March 1. They performed a tracheotomy to ease stress on my body. I had a NG tube directly feeding me. My liver function declined, my kidneys declined, my red blood cells failed to hold oxygen so I had two transfusions, at some point both lungs collapsed… I do not remember any of this. Covid-19 – that nasty little hunter – was looking for weak points and attacking them.

Covid after-effects. Covid and its effects left me, dare I say it, “half the man I used to be.” Someone told me God has the hairs on your head numbered. Well, it’s an easier job to count them now. I still have two pressure wounds from being on a ventilator. This the most serious after-effect of my Covid ordeal. Please pray that these wounds heal completely. The wounds are debilitating. My eyesight got worse. My nose got slightly displaced by the many masks I wore in the ER. I lost the feeling in my left forearm and my right hand is arthritic. My heart rate is elevated, probably to compensate for decreased lung capacity. My lungs do not function completely; I still need supplemental oxygen. I had to learn to breathe, to swallow, and to talk. I have mental lapses about specific words. I can watch Jeopardy, know the answer but I cannot think of the word. I have not tried playing guitar as of this writing. That may present some new challenges.

The future. My recovery will take a year. Slow and steady. Progress will come in small victories. I am prepared for this. Every breath I take every second of the day is a gift from God.

Above all, please understand this: I am grateful to be alive and thankful for every second of life God has given me.

Prayer. Ask God to heal my pressure wounds completely. This is the biggest concern we presently have about my recovery. Pray that my nerve sensation returns. Pray that my endurance builds and fatigue lessens. Thank you.

Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)