As the number of cases of COVID-19 in San Luis Obispo County increases, more people may become infected with the virus and some may become seriously ill. To shed more light on the various ways VIDOC-19 is affecting the people of SLO County, the public health department is asking anyone who has contracted the virus to share their story.
The second story in the SLO County series is about John Porter, a San Luis Obispo resident who tested positive for VIDOC-19 in March 2020. That’s his story:
Every morning, they asked: Do you know your name? Do you know where you are? They also asked me out, and I did: Who cares about the date? I’m on vacation.
The first thing I remember in the ICU was suspecting that I was about to wake up. I had some vivid dreams, and in those dreams I was taken to Santa Ynez, to the hospital downstairs. I now know that there is no hospital in Santa Ynez, and I knew it. But it was what I believed in. And when I think of the room I imagined then, it’s actually the hotel I stayed in in Spain.
I didn’t know I was on a ventilator for 12 days.
Before that, I got sick. It started with an irritated throat, a cough. But over the next five days it turned into the worst flu I had ever had. I finally got the chance to go to a doctor and get tested. They called me the next day and confirmed that it was indeed COVID.
I think I got it on the trip. I was 65 when it hit me in March and I was a pilot flying corporate jets for a living. I took two flights in March, one to Washington and one to Arizona. I suspect I caught him then, although I’m not sure. He could have been at the supermarket.
A few days after I got sick, my wife noticed that my color had changed. I was still sensitive, I was fine, but I felt really bad. So she called the health department. I remember it was five to five at night and they said We do not send urgent shipments. Which hospital do you want to go to?
For the next three days I was fine. The hospital staff even told my wife to send me home because I was doing so well. The next call she received was around 7:00 the next morning, the 1st. April – Crazy day. They told him I had an accident during the night and put me on a ventilator. Then they asked: If he goes into cardiac arrest, should we resuscitate him? Now imagine your loved one gets this phone call.
It all started during those 12 days of depravity. Of course, I thought I was on vacation, so it was harder on my wife and family than on me. They are the ones who should have waited, watched and worried.
When I finally came to my senses, I was motionless for 16-17 days. Physically, I couldn’t move. I could move my arms a little, wiggle my toes – but I had no strength. The blankets on me seemed to weigh a ton. It took a while for everything to work again. They helped me get up on my first day. The next day, I could take a step or two. Then finally, with a walker, I was able to reach the front door of the unit.
While I was there, I could hear the constant coughing from the adjacent rooms and the stretchers coming and going throughout the day. At that time, several other residents became ill and the epidemic began in the CMU. The staff was very busy.
But I must pay tribute to the hospital staff who took care of me. I was one of the first patients they had. I was later told that they had read the first positive reports of patients moving in the prone position from Germany. So at that point, they were trying their best. And I believe their initial actions saved my life.
I wish people knew about this virus, that it was real. I heard an argument recently: You know, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. And it probably will. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. But you reduce the risk. You know, before you cross the street, you look both ways, right? And that, I think, is the same thing. Wearing a mask is not a problem. And believe me, you don’t want that.
How do you load…
We’ll get through this together, Atascadero…