53 Year old Michigan woman and brother were both ventilated at the same hospital- "In memory of Mel"
Trigger alert: This story has a tragic ending, as her brother sadly does not make it.
(Photo includes husband Claude, Charlene, grandson, Monte, and daughter, Shayla)
Charlene Jones, 53 year old, Union Grievance Representative (Flint, Michigan)
My story begins on the morning of March 25th, I have always had issues with sinus drainage and allergies that would sometimes result in me coughing especially during the night, but this time something felt different. I woke up that morning with my throat and chest on fire and streaks of blood in my mucus. I thought it was because I coughed so much during the night.
After watching the morning news and hearing them say that loss of taste and smell was a symptom of Covid- 19, which l was also experiencing, l asked my husband to drive me to the hospital. He parked the car and we proceeded to walk into the emergency room. We were stopped by emergency room staff at the door, who asked why we were there. I explained the way that I felt and the symptoms that I was having. We were told that I could go in, but my husband, Claude, couldn't because of the recent novel Coronavirus pandemic that had started to spread weeks before, in the United States. I told him that I would be fine and would call him when I was ready to be picked up. My husband, and I have been married 25 years, when we leave each other, we always give each other a kiss and another one, when we reunite. This is something that we have done all these years, so we kissed and I turned to follow the ER nurse down the Emergency room hallway, as the doors closed, leaving my husband outside. Little did we both know that when we kissed goodbye it could have possibly been for the last time.
I was immediately taken into the back and placed in a curtained room; there was no waiting. Covid-19 was being taken very serious, as cases were beginning to rise across the country. Patients with symptoms would be immediately whisked into an evaluation room, alone, as the virus could be so deadly and was extremely contagious, family or visitors were not allowed to accompany the patient into the facility. Walking down the hall to my room, I could see room after room of sick people, in their beds alone. No visitors or family to support or comfort them; I secretly prayed that I just had a small bug and I would quickly be given antibiotics and be discharged, to be reunited , with my husband who was waiting in the car outside.
After checking my lungs they told me they were admitting me because I had pneumonia in both lungs and my oxygen saturation levels kept dropping to low numbers. I called my husband and my 30 year old daughter, Shayla, and told them they were admitting me. They quarantined me until they got the results of my Covid-19 test back, which later came back positive.
The next day, March 26th, my oxygen levels continuously dropped below levels where I was able to breathe on my own; I was put on a ventilator. I called my family again, before being vented, and told them that I would not be able to communicate with them, while on the ventilator, as I would be placed in an induced coma, so that they could insert the tube into my throat. What I didn't know was that 2 days later my 51 year old brother, Mel, who had MS, would be admitted with similar symptoms. I had taken him to a doctor's appointment the previous week. The family thinks that we both contracted it at that doctor's visit.
Without even knowing it, Mel and I were intubated on opposite ends of the same hospital floor.
Our hospital admission was right at the start of the growing pandemic; Michigan was on lock-down. Due to the state-wide lock-down and the rules about no visitors in the hospital due to the threat of possibly contracting or spreading Covid , they would not allow anyone to come in to be with us. Neither my husband or daughter or my 10 year old grandson, Monte, or Mel's wife, Emma or their daughters Ava and Meleah, could see either of us. My brother unfortunately didn't survive and lost his battle with Covid-19 on April 9th. He passed away and was buried while i was still in a coma. I had no idea he had even been admitted to the hospital; imagine being told that your brother had been battling in the same hospital as you, had died and was already buried, when you awoke from a coma. It was beyond sad for his family, and mine.
I was told when I woke up, that during that time, my family was told that it also wasn't looking good for me and they should start preparing for my burial as well. They thought they were going to lose us both and delayed his burial for a week, so that we could have our services together; but I kept clinging to life...barely...My nurses lightened the level of medication so that I would be awake enough for my family to Face-Time with me and give me words of hope, as they thought I was not going to survive. I wanted to survive to get back to them.
As the days went on, I was getting slightly better and I remained in ICU on the ventilator for 18 days. They said at one time my blood started clotting like sludge and my tongue swelled to about 4 times its normal size, which resulted in me having to get a trachea. The oral swelling prompted them to decide to use leeches on my tongue to get the swelling down and thankfully that worked and I was taken off the vent.
ICU delirium which many experience, then set in and I spent an additional week in ICU battling that. My dreams were so vivid I thought they were real. I thought l was discharged from the hospital and went to work which is a 45 minute commute for me. While there I was was mugged, beaten and thrown in the river. There was music, drama, and mystery in my dreams just like a movie. I remember being mad at the hospital I thought I was released from because I knew that my husband dropped me off there but I couldn't remember how I left and ended up in another hospital 60 miles away from home where the attack happened. After the delirium subsided and l was recovering, I spent 2 weeks on the rehab floor within the hospital learning how to walk again because of muscle breakdown. I also had to go through therapy to re-learn how to do simple basic things like bathing and brushing my teeth. I had to re-learn all of this before they would release me to go home on May 5th. (My daughter's Birthday.)
I am now Covid free and am anti-body positive. I know that the reason that I am still here was nothing but the "Grace of God." I have a village around me that believes in the power of prayer. They all rallied together and acted as intercessors on my behalf, while giving him our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ all of the Glory. He spared my life, His love for me is apparent and for that I am eternally grateful.
Post-Covid, I am still dealing with a few lingering conditions due to the nerve damage the virus causes, but if i made it through the storm I'm definitely not worried about a little rain.
The best advice I can give someone who hasn't had it yet, is to wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. This virus is not a hoax, just ask the millions of people who have lost someone over the past year. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself this question. What if that was me or one of my loved ones. Would I still feel this way... If you are one of the fortunate ones that haven't had it touch anyone in your family.,"don't be reckless, as you just might get to experience it..I don't wish those 42 days that I experienced on anyone else.."
This is how you could end up, if you ignore taking precautions to keep from getting Covid-19
Charlene feeling better a month after being discharged. Feeling alive again and feeling good!
"IN LOVING MEMORY":
Charlene's brother, Mel Newhouse, passed away April 9th, while on the opposite side of the hospital wing that Charlene was in. Both Charlene and Mel were on ventilator's due to the damaging effects that Covid-19 had on both of their bodies, when Mel passed away.
"Until we meet again ,soar high. I love you Mel", Love, Charlene