Mom started to have symptoms of cough on Oct 14th. When she began to run a fever, a few days later, she was COVID tested on the 16th and was notified of a positive result the following day. Since then, Mom made every effort to isolate and she continued to have symptoms of fever, worsening cough, and just overall feeling poorly.
When the symptoms began to worsen, her cough and shortness of breath persisted, about a week later on the 21st, she decided to go the Hoopeston ER. An x-ray showed pneumonia in the lungs. Nothing with her bloodwork or assessment indicated a bacterial infection so she was diagnosed with viral pneumonia related to COVID. She received IV fluids and her oxygen saturation was stable so she was able to go home. Unfortunately, the symptoms persisted and worsened. She was beginning to feel worn out and as the next few days passed, her oxygen saturation slowly dropped just a little each day.
She went to the Carle ER on Monday Oct 26th. A repeat x-ray showed that the pneumonia was worsening and her oxygen saturation was around the mid 80% range. She was placed on a few liters of oxygen, inhaler and steroids were started. One of the recent antiviral medications that have been given to COVID patients, IV remdesivir for 5 days, was started. In talking with the doctor, early trials with this medication showed promise, but another more recent trial did not show as strong of result. At this point, the medication is still in early phases but has been approved for very ill COVID patients with varying results. The first night in the hospital showed a significant decline and the next morning she was on 10 liters of oxygen. The following day, her oxygen requirements had increased to 13 liters with oxygen saturation levels still hovering around 90%. An additional treatment that has shown to be helpful for COVID patients is prone positioning, where the individual lies on the stomach. This helps to fully expand the lungs to move the fluid and debris around providing for better breathing. While in this position, this treatment did seem to help improve her oxygen saturation. She remained relatively stable for a few days.
Friday morning brought a big change and when she was getting out of bed, she had difficulty catching her breath and maintaining her oxygen levels. She was placed on an Optiflow machine which provides high levels of oxygen at high concentrations. This machine was providing her with 50 liters of oxygen at 100% oxygen concentration. At this point, the doctors thought it would be best to move her to the ICU to be watched a little closer. She was still in good spirits and was texting with family and friends regularly providing updates. Even though it was for her to talk on the phone, these texts were a great comfort to us. Saturday continued to go about the same, but she still felt short of breath and at this point, it was difficult for her to talk and move around because of the shortness of breath. This day finished out her antiviral dose. Sunday required 100 liters of oxygen at 100% oxygen concentration and the shortness of breath and rate of breathing were very concerning to the doctors. She texted the family that the doctors told her if her breathing did not slow down and her oxygen levels did not improve, she would have to be intubated and placed on a ventilator. Later in the day, the doctors talked to her again and she agreed that she could hardly bear to go another night with her current shortness of breath so she consented to intubation and ventilation.
Going forward, she is now on the ventilator and along with that, she is receiving medications to help sedate her and keep her comfortable. She can be brought to alertness, can squeeze a hand, and move just a bit. Unfortunately, she can no longer talk or text with family so that is difficult. Also, for now, we are not able to visit her because COVID visiting policy prevents anyone besides the healthcare workers from being in the room. In a few days, the hope is that a daily breathing trial can be initiated. This is where ventilator settings are decreased and her response is monitored to see if she is able to tolerate being without the ventilator support. The doctors have shared this we should expect her to be on the ventilator for several weeks and not to expect any rapid improvements.
We are taking one day at a time and we know lots of prayers are being offered on her behalf. We appreciate all of the love and support. God knows, He sees, He cares.