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Nurses, doctors and others at Prisma Health Tuomey Hospital lined a hallway and cheered with joy as they sent off a recovered COVID-19 patient on May 28 after he survived a challenging month-long treatment.
Kevin Harrison, 55, waved with gratitude and a relaxed smile as he passed the hospital staff. He had waited all day with anticipation, wanting to see a change of scenery outside the confines of his hospital room.
“I had lost track of time after a while. I was just looking at four walls,” Harrison said. “Once I got out, it was just anything. The trees, sky, whatever. It was a change of scenery.”
On April 21, Harrison was admitted to Tuomey after testing positive for COVID-19.
“I didn’t know I was that bad,” Harrison said. “They didn’t expect me to make it. I remember when they were taking me to the ICU, one of the nurses said that once he saw me going into the ICU, he didn’t think I was coming back out. Not alive.”
Harrison didn’t realize how bad his condition was because he has asthma. He is used to his breathing being restricted at times, and it seemed normal to him during his treatment. He said it was as if he had a common cold at times.
“It was the virus, but with me having a hard time breathing, I was so used to it at a very young age,” Harrison said. “It made me look like I was struggling, but to me, it felt normal.”
Though Harrison said he felt normal, the doctors and nurses saw him struggle during treatment, and Harrison didn’t realize the challenge he was facing until the nurses removed his oxygen mask.
“I noticed that once they put oxygen on me, it was kind of difficult once I removed it. I had shortness of breath whenever I spoke to anyone,” Harrison said.
After realizing his life was on the line facing the coronavirus, he said he wasn’t scared as much as he was shocked.
However, there was one day where his breathing was so restricted that it scared his wife, Rena.
“At one point, my breathing, I started struggling with it,” Harrison said. “They got that under control, and it scared her.”
Now, thanks to the team at Tuomey, Harrison was able to return home to his family.
Not being able to see his wife for more than a month was not as devastating as it has been for others. He’s a truck driver and is usually done for two weeks to a month and a half at a time, so that part of it was not much different.
“I’m in isolation right now, and I was told I still have a long journey ahead recovering with my lungs,” Harrision said.
Thankful for all of those who helped keep him alive and feel comfortable through the month-long treatment, Harrison said he feels blessed for the doctors and nurses who risked their lives to save his own.
“The Lord really did get me through,” Harrison said. “Having experienced people around me in that field, the outcome could have been different.”