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A Navy Vet’s Miraculous, Indefinite Recovery from Covid-19
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United States of America (the)
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Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)
Dennis Sionson was lacing up his Adidas one April morning when his world dimmed. The 57-year-old Navy man had battled sickness for several days, his exhaustion so severe that he finally green-lit a trip to the doctor with his wife, Teresa. Probably just a bad cold, he’d thought. But as the couple prepared to leave for the Naval Health Clinic near their Oak Harbor home, Dennis’s breaths grew shorter, his face paler. His vision faded and, in an instant, went completely dark, like someone had switched off the light. His wife watched him crumple to the floor.
The ambulance came quickly after Teresa’s 911 call, whisking Dennis away to WhidbeyHealth Medical Center. His plummeting oxygen level demanded a ventilator. For days the machine sustained him as he fought a raging case of Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus that had already hospitalized more than 2,000 Washingtonians by the time he arrived at the Coupeville facility on April 2.
Five days after his admittance, Dennis was helicoptered to University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle for more care. Some in the ICU feared that Dennis, tethered to a ventilator for weeks, wouldn’t make it. But over the next three and a half months, the hospital’s treatments would save Dennis, who ultimately suffered a stroke, lung injury, polyneuropathy, and brain damage.
Since the pandemic’s outset, few post-Covid patients have spent this much time rehabilitating the very basics of their being: walking, swallowing, breathing. Dennis wouldn’t leave the hospital until July 21.
Two months before that, he awoke to cheers. He’d finally tested negative for coronavirus. Staffers rejoiced. Dennis, meanwhile, couldn’t yet breathe on his own, let alone celebrate. Or speak.
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