arriving at the hospital

We arrived at the hospital the evening of October 18th. Upon arrival, we pulled up to the entrance of the ER, and told the valet that I had covid. My wife parked the car in the valet lot, and we walked across the parking lot to the entrance of the ER. The hospital had posted a security guard at the entrance of the ER, and because my wife wasn’t looking to get admitted, he wouldn’t let her in. I said my last goodbye to her from the front check-in desk, while she was waiting outside, watching.

After I told the people at the front desk that I was there because I had covid and my oxygen levels were around 91%, they immediately brought me to the back and began working on me. My memory of what happened during this time is fuzzy – the period between when I went to the hospital and when I was intubated are the hardest for me to recollect, but I remember that one of the doctors that first saw me while I was in the ER told me that he had covid back in the spring. I didn’t spend much time in the ER as the hospital pretty much admitted me on the spot, and they hooked me up to oxygen via a nasal canula. They also connected a number of probes to my chest, which were attached to a small box that I had to carry on my body. That diagnostic box constantly weighed down on my chest, since it was held in a pocket on my hospital gown or dug into my sides when it wasn’t directly on my chest. It made it difficult to sleep and gave me nightmares (seriously, in my dreams it was named “Fred” – and no, I didn’t consciously name it). The worse part, by far, of being admitted to into the hospital at that point was that diagnostic box – it was always getting in the way, always digging into me, and was a constant annoyance, even when I slept.

I remained in the general covid ward for a little less than two days. While I was there, they began treating me with steroids, via small pills, and remdesivir through my IV. I’m not sure how many IV’s I had at this time, but by the end of my stay in the hospital, I had, at various times, 5 IV’s on my right arm, and two on my left, along with a central line and picc line that they put in after I was intubated. With the first two on my left arm, the two nurses that were putting them in (back to back) apparently pierced an artery from my vein on the one that was further down on my arm – it was extremely painful going in and I later asked for an ice pack to put on my arm, as it was supposed to help with the pain and swelling, but eventually it was taken out because it wasn’t a good line.

During this time, my oxygen was periodically increased. At the beginning, the doctors were fairly optimistic that I would only be there for a few days, but as my lungs began failing, the prognosis got worse, and I knew that I was dying. One of the partners that I work with recollected the emails that he received from me from the hospital (which I only vaguely remember) – that I was checking into the hospital and that the doctors thought that it would only be for a couple of days, to things were getting worse, to the doctors were thinking that it was 50/50 and didn’t know what would happen. I also began talking to my wife more about my own mortality, but I promised her that I would fight the best that I could (on a lighter note, I remember telling her that I really wanted an egg salad sandwich with turkey – I had free reign over the hospital’s menu, and could order anything I wanted; however, by this time I had little to no energy to even eat, and had difficulty even eating broth). In retrospect, if I didn’t make that promise, I wouldn’t be here today. The toll of what I went through, emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually was everything that I could handle and more. It was during this time that I began to break mentally and emotionally – breathing was difficult, and every movement was agony – it took all of my strength to breathe, and any other activity took everything out of me. On one particular day, when I was breaking, I remember receiving a text message from one of my friends from church that was a huge, and needed, encouragement (thanks Allison); right after that, Eunice asked people to send me messages (thanks everyone), because she knew that state that I was in. While I couldn’t respond to those messages, as I didn’t have the strength to text back (I could barely send messages to Eunice, and when she asked me why all my messages were so short, I responded that it was taking everything that I had to continue breathing – and I was failing in that), I read them all. At this point I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without exhausting myself and setting off alarms about my oxygen saturation levels. In my medical notes, it says that I went from an alert, pleasant, man to a tired-looking man, and I only got worse from there.

Eunice posted daily (sometimes several in a day) updates, here’s her updates from this period:

10/18/20 – Ben was just admitted to the ER with oxygen levels between 91-94%. Please pray. Thanks.

10/19/20 – Thank you for all the prayers, they are helping. Ben is doing good, he’s still on oxygen and being treated for Covid at the hospital. He has a really great team working on him.

On the other hand, Ben’s dad was put on the ventilator early this morning. Gwen woke up with a fever this morning as well. Please keep praying. Thank you everyone.

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