My life will NEVER be the same. Half of me died that day.
In the 17 years I knew the man, he went to the doctor less than 5 times.
“They sent him home with NO MEDICATION and told him to take Tylenol and Ibuprofen and if he got worse to go to the hospital.”
Steven Ralph Wood was a healthy 47-year-old male. He was a bit overweight but had no health issues. In the 17 years I knew the man, he went to the doctor less than 5 times. He just didn't get sick. He did bloodwork and health screenings at his job every year for insurance purposes. He was a HEALTHY person.
My story begins on Wednesday, July 28, 2021. My husband came home from work and said his shoulders were aching and he just didn't feel good. Because of body aches being a symptom of Covid, his work required him to get a Covid test. So, he went the next morning (July 29) to a CVS Minute Clinic to be tested. He was positive. They sent him home with NO MEDICATION and told him to take Tylenol and Ibuprofen and if he got worse to go to the hospital. At this point, I ordered Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, and Zinc from Amazon for us to start taking.
He came home wearing a mask and told me the news. I told him that we would move him into the spare bedroom to quarantine him since I did not have any symptoms and felt fine. He wore a mask in the house when he was up moving around and stayed in the bedroom all the other times. We were trying so hard for me to not get sick. My friends advised me to get a pulse oximeter to keep a check on his oxygen levels, so I ordered one from Amazon and got it the next day. They all told me that if his oxygen dropped below 85 I should take him to the hospital. It came the next day and we began monitoring him. We both checked our oxygen levels at least 6-8 times a day if not more. Steve's oxygen levels were slowly creeping in a downward spiral but would go back up.
I Was Sick
I felt fine on Thursday and Friday. Still no symptoms. I woke up Saturday with a scratchy throat and just had a gut feeling that Covid had hit me too, but was trying to stay positive. I was taking the vitamins and kept praying that I wouldn't get any sicker. As the day went by, I just felt worse. I woke up Sunday and didn't feel good at all. Steve was so upset that he had gotten this mess and brought it home to me. We still have NO IDEA where he came in contact with this virus. Sunday night (August 1) I told Steve that I was going on Monday to get tested to see if I had Covid. I drove to Randleman, NC to be tested because all the clinics in our area were not taking any appointments for Covid testing. The nurse came out to my car and did the test and told me to wait in the parking lot for 15 minutes for my results. She came out with a paper and told me that I was positive. I was given a script for a Z-pack and told to take Tylenol and Ibuprofen and if I got worse to go to the hospital. When I got home, I told Steve that I was positive and that he might as well move back to our bedroom since we both had Covid. I had missed him being in the bed with me. He would rub my back every single night and I had missed that for 4 nights. I was so happy to have him back in our bed with me.
Separated From My Soulmate
“That was the last time HE would physically touch me, look at me, and kiss me.”
We got up Tuesday morning (August 3) and were both sitting in our recliners watching TV. We had checked our oxygen levels and mine was 90 and I told him to check his. He put it on his finger and gave me the most horrible look. I said, "What?". He said my oxygen is 84. I told him that we had to take him to the hospital. He said he didn't want to go because he didn't want to leave me. I told him that he was sicker than me and needed "HELP". Yeah right, that is an after-thought now. I finally convinced him to go to the hospital and I drove him there. We went to an Emergency Room only hospital nearby (MedCenter High Point) He told me the whole way there that he didn't want to leave me. I told him that he was sicker than I was and needed medical attention. I pulled up to the hospital entrance and he didn't want to get out of the car. He kept saying he didn't want to leave me. We were very close, he was my soulmate and we did every single thing together. I told him to go ahead and go in to be evaluated and that I would come back and get him if they didn't admit him. I couldn't go in with him as that was the protocol. So he kissed me and got out and went inside. That was the last time HE would physically touch me, look at me, and kiss me. I just sat there for about 10 minutes. I didn't want to leave. I had a feeling in my gut and it wasn't good. I just wanted to be with him. I finally left and before I arrived home, a nurse called me from his phone and told me that Steve was a very sick man. She said his oxygen was in the low 80s and his temperature was 104. She told me that they were going to admit him, but they had to wait for a bed to come open and he would be transferred to one of the local hospitals. I started posting daily updates on Facebook and was asking for prayer for Steve.
All of my friends were telling me to tell him to ask for Remdesivir. That the medication would help him. They were saying that was what President Trump had received. So I kept telling Steve to ask for it. This was before I found out about Remdesivir and how it was a killer drug. Trump received Regeneron which was the Monoclonal Antibodies. He said he thought they had already started him on the Remdesivir treatment and that he would get it for 5 days.
Steve and I video chatted through Facebook Messenger. He called me and said they wanted him to "prone" to help his lungs. He said he couldn't do it and it was stressing him out. He was sweating and really upset. He had a "baby" belly and said it was just hard for him. I told him to ask for a pillow for his head. He had 2 IVs started in his arm. He said they were waiting to find a bed for him. He called me around midnight and told me that they were going to transport him to Wesley Long Hospital in Greensboro, NC. He got there around 1:30 am and got settled.
I Was Sick and He Was Hospitalized
“He told me that he didn't understand why he couldn't get well and kick this mess.”
August 4, 2021, I was so sick and couldn't breathe. My oxygen had dropped into the high 80s
and I knew I needed medical attention. I managed to drive myself to the hospital. I had to because I did not want to expose anyone else. I had a chest x-ray and was given a steroid shot. The x-ray showed little pin-drop-looking spots of pneumonia. They sent me home with NO medication and told me to take Tylenol and Ibuprofen and if I got worse to come back to the hospital. I was the sickest I had ever been. I was scared. I was at home alone fighting this crap while my husband was in the hospital. I had diarrhea, vomiting, fever, nausea, no appetite, I was weak and very short of breath.
Steve and I spoke every day in the morning and at night. I told him to save his energy during the day so he could rest and heal. I told him to call me anytime he wanted to. The hospital would not let me come up to visit him because he was on the Covid floor. Steve told me every day that he was getting a little bit worse because he couldn't keep his oxygen numbers up. The hospital kept increasing his oxygen flow. I have pictures of him from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 6. On Day 6 (August 8) he was wearing a rebreather mask and they had increased his oxygen level. The hospital eventually put him on High-Flow Oxygen Therapy With Warm Humidification to try to help his lungs. The tube was huge. He called me on the evening of August 17th and he was crying. He said he had just taken a poop and couldn't even clean himself because his oxygen had dropped so low that he had to call the nurse. He said he felt like he was going to pass out. He said he was so humiliated because he couldn't wipe his own behind and had to be helped back into bed. I was so broken. I did my best not to cry on the phone, but I was terrified. I told him to keep using his little breathing apparatuses that they gave him and exercising his lungs. He said, "I'm trying, baby". I told him not to give up. He told me that he didn't understand why he couldn't get well and kick this mess. When we hung up the phone, I sobbed. I prayed to God to do something. This man was my entire life, my soul-mate, my best friend, my lover, my confidante, my everything. I could not lose him.
August 18, 2021, Steve was moved to ICU because he required more oxygen than they could give him on the regular floor. I was terrified at this point. The hospital still would not let me come and see him. At this point, he had been hospitalized for 15 days. The quarantine period was passed and I should have been able to go see my husband. Every time I asked, I got a resounding NO. I told Steve to hold on until his birthday which was August 22. That is the day the hospital told me that I could come to visit him. Steve told me that he would do his best. He was scared and alone. All of this just makes me so sick!!!! I spoke to him before I went to bed and he was in good spirits and trying to be calm and just breathe and heal.
The Ventilator and Mind Games
On the morning of August 19, 2021, my phone rang at 7:15 am and it was a facetime call from Steve. I thought to myself, "he is up early". I answered and it was a nurse holding Steve's phone in front of him. He had on a bi-pap mask. The nurse told me that they were getting ready to intubate Steve and he wanted to talk to me before they did. I immediately started crying. He looked at me and this is what he said to me. "I CAN'T BREATHE BABE. THEY ARE GOING TO VENT ME. I LOVE YOU". He then waved bye to me and the nurse took the phone and told me that they had to go because the doctors were at the bedside and Steve needed to be intubated immediately. I wonder at that time if he knew he wasn't going to come back to me. She said she would call me back after they got Steve settled. I was so broken. I was sobbing and screaming to God to help Steve. I frantically posted on Facebook and was asking everyone to please pray for him. This was my whole life. I could feel him slipping away. Later, when I spoke to the doctor, he told me that Steve was scared and agreed to the ventilator if they thought it would help him. The doctor also said that Steve would be proned for 16 hours out of a 24 hour day. They would flip him on his tummy for those 16 hours. This went on for a few days and then they stopped doing it. I can't tell you how devastated and heartbroken I was for my love. Knowing he was scared and alone. DAMNIT! And of course, since he was moved to ICU, his quarantine period started over...at least that is the excuse I was given. His kidneys had started failing and they suggested he be put on continuous dialysis which would run 24/7 to try to heal his kidneys and hope they would start producing urine again.
I begged them to let me come up there on his birthday to see him which was 3 days after he was intubated. Miraculously, they lifted the isolation and I was able to come to visit. I went into his room, he was hooked up to so much stuff. I was flabbergasted to say the least. He was on paralytic drugs, sedation drugs, and many other things. He had a Central Line in one side of his neck and the Dialysis Catheter in the other side of his neck. He was vented with the tube running down his throat. He was the most pitiful sight and I again sobbed like a baby. I spent about 4 hours with him and finally had to leave to come home and care for our two puppies. I wasn't worried because I knew I would be able to go back the next day. I kissed him and told him I would see him tomorrow. I spoke to a nurse while I was there and she advised me to set up his "MyChart" which is where I could view all of his tests and the notes that were put in from the doctors and nurses, etc. Well, tomorrow came and I got a phone call from a doctor we will call "Dr. Heartless". He proceeded to tell me that my husband was critical and they were listing him as a DNR. I said absolutely NOT! This was MY husband and I am the one who will decide if he is full code or not. That is NOT his decision to make. However, Dr. Heartless was able to convince me that Steve would not survive if he had a heart attack and that the CPR would only hurt him more by breaking his ribs and doing other damage. See how they use those scare tactics to get us to do what they want? Dr. Heartless also advised me that he was back on quarantine and that I would not be allowed to visit until the quarantine period was over. I asked how long that was and he couldn't give me an answer. I was furious.
“My love was suffering and I was helpless.”
August 22, 2021...this is my husband's 48th birthday. He spent it in a hospital, on a ventilator and so drugged up that he probably didn't even know he was in this world. I got to go see him that day. I was so happy that I could finally put my hands on him and love on him. I
played music for him. I prayed with him. And I just sat there holding his hand and rubbing his chest and stomach. I rubbed his legs. I stroked his face. It was precious.
The nurses that were caring for Steve were so gracious. They were kind enough to facetime me from his phone so I could talk to him during the day. They would hold his hand, stroke his face, rub his arm...whatever I asked them to do. I had my favorites of his nurses and was so glad when I found out they would be taking care of Steve. My absolute favorite was a nurse we will refer to as "A". She would pray with Steve and treated him like her family. This routine went on for another 10 days. I would watch his test results and look at the doctor's notes. On September 1, 2021, I opened a note from a nurse named "Alana G" who had posted a picture of my husband's backside. He had a pressure injury and it was just hideous. It was big, bleeding in some spots and black in others. I knew the skin was necrotic. I was so angry. I knew that was because he was not being turned. I was told that when they tried to move him, his oxygen would tank and they decided that his oxygen stability was more important. I cannot imagine the pain this thing would have caused if he weren't so sedated. My love was suffering and I was helpless.
On September 2, 2021, Steve was trached. They removed the breathing tube from inside his mouth and down his throat and put in a tracheotomy which vented him this way. The hospital said they didn't like to have patients on the vent down their throats for more than two weeks because of vocal cord damage. The procedure went "better than textbook" and all of that stuff was removed from his face. He had terrible sores on both cheeks and ears due to the ventilator tubing and hoses. The doctors were telling me that they wanted to try to start weaning Steve off the paralytics and sedation drugs to try to wake him up. I was all for it. I wanted him to come home. I was still so hopeful. I kept telling the nurses and the doctors that he was going to walk out of that hospital and be a miracle. I truly believed that God was going to save him. There were thousands of people praying for him. People I have never met and don't know reached out to me on Facebook and told me how his story was changing their lives. I was so touched by the outpouring of love and support I was receiving.
Moving to a New Hospital
I couldn't believe how the Doctor brushed the response to me off like it was not a big deal.
September 10, 2021, after daily begging, Steve was removed from isolation and I was free to go see him. I realize now that the hospitals do not want loved ones there because they ask questions and advocate for them. I asked questions about everything and what the nurses were doing, etc. But, I was happy because I could be at the bedside of my love. I don't know if he knew I was there. I would like to think he knew I was there. That was the hard part for me. I just wanted him to look at me and respond to me. I wanted him to wake up and get well enough to come home.
On September 13, 2021, one of the kidney doctors came in and told me that Steve needed to get off the continuous dialysis and move to Hemodialysis. He said Steve was a candidate for that and would have to be moved to Moses Cone Hospital to receive it because Wesley Long Hospital where he was did not have the Hemodialysis machines. (I call bullshit at this point. I did not want him moved.) He was fragile and I did not think that his body could handle that move. They assured me he would be fine.
So, against my will and better judgment, they moved my husband to Moses Cone Hospital on September 15, 2021. He began receiving Hemodialysis every 3 days. However, at some time Steve had developed a fever and they were trying to figure out the source. The hospital removed all of his lines to give him a "line holiday" so they could pinpoint the spot of the infection and then they could treat it.
On September 21, 2021, I went to the hospital to visit Steve. They had worked on weaning him from the sedation drugs. I walked in his room and his color was amazing. He looked good. I walked over to his bed and called his name and HE OPENED HIS EYES AND LOOKED AT ME!!!!!!!!! I was so freaking excited. This was the first time he had responded to me. I called out to him again with "Babe" and he opened his eyes. I got right in front of him and told him that I knew he could see me. I knew he was trying to focus on me. I could see his eyes barely moving to focus. I went out to get his nurse and guess what I saw. The nurses were sitting at the nurse's station and all of them were on their phones. They could give a shit less about those patients. They were there to collect a paycheck. I told one of the nurses that I wanted to see his doctor immediately. The doctor came in and I told him what had happened and even showed him. I was so excited and the doctor just brushed it off like it was nothing. I couldn't believe how he brushed the response to me off like it was not a big deal. That is the first time my husband had responded to me since he was put on the ventilator on August 19, 2021. He told me that they would be putting the dialysis line back in the next day because he had been 3 days without dialysis and his Creatinine and BUN numbers were climbing. I stayed with Steve that night until about 8:30 pm and finally went home.
Letting Him Go
On September 22, 2021, I went to the hospital to see my love. I walked into his room and thought WHAT THE HELL HAS HAPPENED IN HERE! He looked like someone had beat the hell out of him. He was back on all the sedation medications and looked horrible. He was unresponsive and had a huge bandage on his neck. He was burning up with fever and sweating. His face was red. I got a wet, cold cloth and put it on his forehead after I had wiped his face. I went outside his room to the nurses' station and they were on their phones. I was so pissed off. I asked them who was taking care of my husband and one answered it was her. I told her to get the doctor and have him come in, that I wanted to speak with him. The doctor came in and I asked him why my husband looked like he did and I wanted to know why he was unresponsive. The doctor told me that they had to put him back on sedation while they tried to put the dialysis catheter back in. He said they tried to put it in his neck and his vein had developed stricture. He said sometimes veins would narrow in places where catheters were previously in them. He said they tried in the groin and got the same result. The groin had never had any line in it at all. I thought that was weird and the doctor could not explain it. He said the nurse from Radiology would be up shortly for me to sign a release form for them to try to put in the line again the next day. She arrived and I signed the form. When she was leaving the room, I stopped her and asked where they were going to try to put the line in the next day. Her reply to me was "the other side of his neck". Well, that is where his central line was before. As she left, I was sitting by my husband's bedside and crying. No one was in the room but me and my precious husband. Out of nowhere, I hear a voice and it says "Here's your sign". There was no one in the room with us. I knew then that it was God. I had asked him the night before to please fix it. At this point, I knew what I had to do. As bad as I didn't want to let go I knew it was time. Steve was in kidney failure, had severe lung damage, and had started having issues with A-fib. I didn't want him to have a heart attack. So, I called the doctor back in and told him "We're done here. Steve is tired and ready to go home. He has suffered enough and I am not going to put him through anymore". Of course, I get the proverbial rub on my back telling me that I was doing the right thing and they would move Steve to comfort care tomorrow. I was devastated and so heartbroken. I was going to say goodbye forever to the love of my entire life...my soul-mate, my best friend...MY EVERYTHING the next day. How am I supposed to live with myself? All I could say to him was I was sorry. Both my Goddaughters were there with me and we stayed at the hospital until almost midnight. I didn't want to leave but knew I needed to try to sleep so I would have the strength to get through the next day.
My Last Moments With Him
“I was sorry for taking him to the hospital where they did this to him.”
On September 23, 2