Georgetown couple recovers from COVID-19
A Georgetown couple is counting their blessings after recovering from COVID-19.
Barb DeBastiani wasn't feeling well in mid-April, but her husband, Jim, felt fine. Both of them were tested for the coronavirus at Beebe Healthcare.
Both of them tested positive.
Barb's case ended up being mild, similar to a bad sinus infection. Jim's symptoms, however, were concerning.
“It was very difficult to breathe,” Jim said. “I was shivering, even indoors. I was wearing three shirts, sweatpants and socks. And I was still shivering.”
Jim's doctor recommended he go to Beebe's COVID Positive Care Center at the Georgetown Health Campus, rather than an emergency department. He remembered barely being able to make it to the door.
“I told Barb I didn’t want to go to sleep because I didn’t think I was going to wake up,” he said.
A chest X-ray showed Jim’s lung were significantly congested, causing his cough and shortness of breath. With a prescription for medication to help dull the symptoms, he headed home to continue isolating to avoid any spread of the virus.
Jim was thoroughly impressed with his care at Beebe.
“They probably had seen a ton of cases before me, but I felt like they treated me like I was the first person they had ever seen. The staff was remarkable. They had all the care and concern,” he said.
It helped at home that he had his own personal nurse in Barb, a retired RN who had worked for the state health department for years.
“A lot of people supported us by going to the grocery store and even bringing us chicken soup,” Barb said.
The Beebe team and Division of Public Health continually checked up on Jim. He said the isolation was difficult, so having a bright voice on the other end of the phone was something he looked forward to each time.
He said he especially enjoyed hearing from Kim Willoughby, the charge nurse at the COVID Positive Care Center.
“You can’t fight this on your own,” he said. “When you get to this stage where your lungs are so full with fluid and you don’t know when your next breath is going to come from, you can’t do it by yourself. You would sink into despair.”
Eventually, Jim's condition started to improve. He remembered his first trip to the mailbox. He had to sit down, out of breath, for quite a while after, but it gave him confidence that he was getting better.
The next big step was a follow-up X-ray of his lungs. The results were clear.
“I started crying actually and I called Barb,” Jim says. “The first X-ray not only showed all that congestion but also a sack of some sort – a nodule. I hadn’t had that before. With COVID, it sometimes happens, but even that had cleared out.”
Jim lost 25 pounds while he was sick with COVID-19. He's still building back up his stamina. He's happy to be able to go to the grocery store again and see his children and grandchildren, including one born during the pandemic. Both Jim and Barb still wear face coverings whenever they leave their home.
“We’re not invincible but we feel very,” Jim said, pausing “… it’s a funny feeling knowing you had it and survived, thinking, wow I’ve been there.”