Sep 16, 2021 by Maria Thompson
John was the epitome of active. Fishing, hunting, biking, gardening, camping— especially in the Boundary Waters. Then in October 2020, he got COVID-19.
“I was a healthy person. I didn't expect it to be much, but the symptoms kept getting worse." He ended up in the ICU in Park Rapids, then was airlifted to Fargo.
He was in the hospital for a harrowing 65 days. He was sedated and intubated for most of his stay, his wife got the “hurry up and get to the hospital” call four times, and he suffered a collapsed lung five times.
When he came out of sedation, his body was, “I think the medical term is ‘severely deconditioned.’ I had lost a ton of weight and was very weak.”
After he came out of sedation, he could move his toes and feet but couldn't lift his arms. “That was a strange experience, let me tell you.”
He was finally discharged a few days before Christmas.
To get back to himself, he needed help. As he discharged from the hospital, he needed to choose a home health care provider. He chose Knute Nelson. “I have a great deal of respect for Knute Nelson and the people they have. It was a no-brainer for me. Their visits made all the difference in the world.”
“I still remember the first time getting out of bed. They took me on a lift from the bed to the chair, which is five feet away. I was completely exhausted.” He needed oxygen constantly.
He had occupational and physical therapy a couple of days a week for many weeks.
"Tyler [physical therapist] pushed me, but not in a way that made it unsafe or uncomfortable. But there were times it was like, ‘Tyler, are you sure I can do this?’”
“He was the one that said, 'Okay, John, your lungs need to get to a point where they can function without supplemental oxygen, so pull that tube out of your nose and let's get to work here.’”
John wanted to get back to the activities he enjoyed and camping in the Boundary Waters was a vital part of that. “At one point, I asked my pulmonologist, ‘Based on my condition and my lungs, what's the likelihood of me doing that again?’ He said, ‘Maybe someday. Maybe next year.’”
When Tyler asked John what his therapy goals were, getting back to the Boundary Waters was a natural. “We strived for that, but I honestly wasn't sure I was going to get there.”
Last spring, John's brother Mike had an opening in his Boundary Waters trip. As long as John could walk, Mike would make it work. John wouldn’t need to bring anything or portage. "That's where most of the work is, going from lake to lake, with everything on your back.”
John was paddling and hiking in the Boundary Waters in May. On the last portage, he told his brother he wanted to try. “I put Mike’s canoe on my back and made that last portage. It was emotional to accomplish that. It was a fantastic trip for all kinds of reasons, but that made it very special. I'm very grateful to my brother.”
John says he feels like he's close to where he was pre-COVID. He and his wife were recently out on a 20-mile bike trip. “I didn't set a world-record pace, that's for sure. But I was able to bike 20 miles, which I wouldn't have expected to do all that long ago.”
“It's a life-changing story. Knute Nelson was a big part of it. They were absolutely instrumental in me gaining my strength back so I was able to get back to work and be where I'm at now. They made all the difference in the world.”
Learn more about Knute Nelson Home Health Care or call 320-759-1273 to talk with one of our Home Health Care experts for how we can help best serve you or your loved one.