When my wife saw that my oxygen saturation was 84, she was quite alarmed. She didn’t say much at the time, but unbeknownst to me, she consulted our PCP and friend, Dr. Elias Hernandez, and her daughter, an ER nurse who works in a COVID unit. Both said the same thing…get him to the ER.
As we drove to the hospital on what seemed to be a dark and gloomy night, the gloominess was intensified by the fear and uncertainty of COVID-19. It is a disease that does not discriminate and attacks all people of all ages, but is particularly difficult for those who fit in the high risk categories: obese, diabetic, high blood pressure, a senior adult, and unfortunately I seemed have nailed every one of them. So, as we drove to the hospital in near silence, I could only wonder what the future held in store.
“Was I going to die?” was a question that nagged me, but I did not give it much airtime and turned instead to focusing on what I could do to get better. That was my power and doing what my care providers asked me to do was my hope.
You enter the hospital alone; your wife cannot accompany you. As I entered the ER door, she called out to me reaffirming her love and warning that it may be a while before we saw each other again. At the time, while I found that thought alarming, I did not give it a lot of thought. I just simply did not feel good.
As soon as I entered the ER, they assigned me a room and began taking my vital signs. Soon, I was speaking with the ER doctor. At the time, my oxygen saturation had improved and read between 90 and 92. The doctor explained that they would not admit me to the hospital unless it dipped under 88 and was about to send me home, when my 02 levels sank, dipping to 82. At that point, I was there to stay and it was a good thing I did. That night was a struggle requiring 15 units of oxygen to get my levels where they needed to be. It is interesting what you think about at such times…or don’t. I don’t think I really thought about dying; I don’t think I thought about living. I just wanted to feel better and tried to do all that the staff asked of me to do while at the same time trying to maintain a pleasant attitude.
We made it through that difficult night, and the next morning I was sitting up in a chair, eating breakfast and gulping 15 units of oxygen into my lungs that I might breath at a 94 level of saturation. I wasn’t aware of how much oxygen that truly was, but I was pleased to have made it through the night and wondered what the coming days would bring. Would I get better? Although the staff were cautiously optimistic, it was too soon to tell. The difficult times were still in front of me and I worked on developing a positive mindset focused on doing what was needed and giving little room to the alternatives. “Was I going to die?” was a question that nagged me, but I did not give it much airtime and turned instead to focusing on what I could do to get better. That was my power and doing what my care providers asked me to do was my hope.