“I really thank God for saving my life.” That’s the message from a Pottsville man, Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Schuylkill’s first discharged coronavirus (COVID-19) patient. “I believe God and the medical professionals at the hospital are the reasons I am talking to you today.”
The patient, who asked to remain anonymous, spent 15 days at LVH–Schuylkill, all in the intensive care unit (ICU), and was discharged about a week ago.
“It all started in mid-March,” he says. “I was working and all of a sudden had sharp shoulder and back pain, something I thought might be related to my job.” After resting for a bit and having something light to eat, the patient says he felt much better and went on about his business. The strange sensation came back again the next day and he tried the same remedy, never once thinking it could be the coronavirus.
Within a few days, his condition had deteriorated to the point where back and shoulder pain morphed into a gastrointestinal illness. In the next 24 hours, he experienced high fever, severe fatigue, being incoherent and shortness of breath. “It was at that point I realized something was very wrong. I called 911 and was transported to LVH–Schuylkill ER. I was just so weak. By the time I got to the hospital, I knew I was very sick and afraid for my life.”
After treatment and evaluation in the ER, the patient was admitted to the ICU under suspicion of COVID-19 while test results were pending. The patient was under the care of an intensivist while at the hospital. He also had LVHN telemedicine consultations with an epidemiologist and other practitioners. Tests later confirmed he was positive for COVID-19.
“It was devastating and hit me hard. I lost more than 20 pounds during my hospital stay and was just really, really weak. It was determined that I had pneumonia on top of everything. I kept coughing. I was very glad that I did not have to go on a ventilator. I was receiving IV (intravenous) medicine, oxygen, ice packs to reduce fever and breathing treatments.”
He was very complimentary about his care team who helped in his recovery. “Everyone was great. The doctors, nurses and health care workers did a tremendous job. Even the food was good.”
After six days, doctors felt the patient turned the corner, and steadily, but slowly, continued his recovery. Day 15 was the big day where he was well enough to return home, still under quarantine at that time and using home oxygen, but generally doing well.
“I’m so fortunate to have family support and getting stronger every day. I am now able to go outside and am looking forward to going back to work, hopefully by the end of the month.”
The patient recommended that everyone heed the social distancing and other warnings from the CDC:
- Wash your hands often
- Stay home
- Practice social distancing
- Cover your cough
- If you go out, wear a mask
Learn more about coronavirus by going to LVHN.org/COVID19.