Hit Hard by COVID-19, but Feeling Very Grateful

Let me review my rough November 2020. I was exposed to COVID-19 at a small family birthday party at the beginning of November 2020. The individual who had it did not know she had been exposed until after the birthday party. About five days later, on a Saturday night, I started to feel like I had the flu. Sunday was rough, and I went in for a COVID-19 test on that Monday. I was positive.

I remained quarantined in my basement under my doctor’s care. However, after about a week or so, I took a serious turn for the worse with my oxygen reading going from 88-90 to about 82 (95-100 is normal and 92 is bad), and my wife drove me to the hospital emergency room at Northside Hospital. When I arrived at about 2:00 a.m., my oxygen was at 75. My wife had to drop me off as no visitors were permitted. The wonderful Northside Hospital staff immediately went into action and took great care of me.

I was in a separate COVID-19 room for a day or two (I lost count), but then I took another bad turn as my oxygen plummeted. I had pneumonia in both lungs and my body was not fighting back well enough. I was taken to the ICU where they had better (and safer for the hospital staff) supplemental oxygen equipment. At that point, they also gave me the latest experimental medications and convalescent plasma (someone else’s antibodies).

I was told, it could go one of two ways for me as I was at 65% of maximum supplemental oxygen. I could go to 95% – 100%, at which point they may be putting me on a ventilator, or my body could start to fight back, and my oxygen needs would go down. The exceptional news was that within 24 hours, my body started to fight back, and I was on my way to recovery. The doctors were shocked at my fast turn-around. I was in the ICU for about 3 days, one day of further recovery in a normal COVID-19 room, and then I was given the choice to leave (assuming I passed one more test to see to if my oxygen was stable as I walked around the hospital room) or to stay one more day for observation.

I passed the test, and I was seriously ready to go home. I made the call to leave, and my wife came to pick me up. When she arrived, I almost completely lost it emotionally. I was not ready to leave this earth, and it had been a close call. Since I have been back at home, I have been on the mend with my oxygen back close to normal, my breathing way better and my energy and strength building back to normal each day. I started back to work part-time, and I should be back full-time shortly. My wife ended up getting COVID-19 as well, but luckily, she ended up with a mild case.

I am feeling very grateful! So, why do I feel grateful after being one of the low percentage of people who ended up with a bad case of the coronavirus? Simple. I received incredible care and lived to tell about it! All along the way, things could easily have turned out differently.

If I had gotten COVID-19 earlier in the year, think March 2020 when it first got bad, or even this past summer, I may not be here today. Until more recently, doctors knew much less about how to care for COVID-19 patients. Some of what was previously recommended not only did not help, but sometimes reduced the patient’s chances of survival. Doctors now know much more and have more experimental medicines, convalescent plasma and protocols to help those with bad coronavirus cases. My timing helped me survive this.

Northside Hospital and its many doctors, nurses, technicians and other staff were exceptional! I was lucky to be able to have such incredible care. Northside Hospital happened to be in a lull and was not crowded when I showed up. As a result, I was able to get the best possible treatment, attention and access to experimental medicines and convalescent plasma. Again, timing helped me survive this.

While I received experimental medicines and convalescent plasma, I was told they were merely experimental and only sometimes worked. Well, at least one or more ended up working for me, and it kicked in fairly quickly. I was one of the lucky ones!

My wife has been a superwoman taking care of me before and after my hospital stay and my other family and friends were incredible! I have never been on the side of people saying that they were thinking of me and praying for me. I am not a super religious person, but it meant a lot and every time I read someone saying this, I would become emotional. I was not ready to leave this world and others were doing what they could to help me stay. It was an incredible feeling. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Now, I would like to provide a few short public service announcements:

  1. You need to take COVID-19 very seriously. Yes, you may get it and have a slight case. But what if you are like me, and you get a bad case? What if you get your bad case when the hospitals are really busy as they are now? The vaccines should be fully available by the summer of 2021. You need to be very careful until then, please. But, in case you do get it, get under a doctor’s care immediately and know that you are not alone. Whether you know it or not, your family and friends will be doing all they can to help you get through this. Political issues have been tough on us for some time, but we really are a community that looks after each other when we see others in need.
  2. As an estate planner, I need to remind everyone of the need to have an updated Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care (ADFHC) and an updated Georgia Statutory Form Power of Attorney (POA) as properly modified with special instructions. For those that live outside Georgia, you need the proper legal documents for the state where you live. If you end up going into the hospital, they will ask you for a hard copy of your current ADFHC. They need to know who they can legally speak with on your behalf and as to your end-of-life election(s). While you are in the hospital, you may also need someone to act on your behalf as to your financial and property affairs, hence the need for an updated POA. To ensure that these documents are easily accepted with as little hassle as possible, we believe best practice is to ensure these two documents are updated about every three years.
  3. Volunteers are needed! If you have had COVID-19 and are now back to being fully healthy, please consider donating your convalescent plasma. Atlanta Blood Services is accepting donations now and is in need so others can receive the benefit of your COVID-19 antibodies. The contact information for those that would like to donate plasma is: 404-477-1298; absinfo@bmtga.com; and atlantabloodservices.com.

Very Truly Yours,

Richard M. Morgan


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