HENRYETTA, Okla. (KFOR) – A COVID-19 survivor is sharing her story. In July, KFOR interviewed the daughters of a Henryetta woman in the hospital battling the Delta variant.
69-year-old Jeanne Gang and her husband, 70-year-old Donnie Gang, both tested positive for COVID-19 in July. Jeanne spent three weeks in the hospital, while Donnie was there for about a week.
At first, they quarantined at home for a few days, but their symptoms kept getting worse.
“Not being able to breathe and the coughing,” Jeanne said.
“I’m afraid that if I lay down and go to sleep I’m going to die,” Donnie said.
They called an ambulance and went to a hospital in Okmulgee.
“[The staff] wanted to insert that tube in her, and they said that was the reason the doctor wasn’t allowed to bring her in the hospital, because they don’t have an ICU and he goes, ‘we can’t take care of somebody that’s as sick as she is,'” Donnie said. “He said, ‘at this time there’s no place to send her,’ and he goes, ‘I know being in a room with you is just as big a medicine,’ so he said, ‘I’m going to admit her anyway.'”
Doctors had to look for a place to send Jeanne.
“[A doctor] said, “I know we’ve called every hospital there is,’ and he said, ‘we’ve gone five states away, and could not find an ICU for her,’ but he said, ‘I’m going to make room,'” Donnie said.
Jeanne was flown by air ambulance to a hospital in Tahlequah. She said when she was being wheeled out, she noticed that Donnie wasn’t in his hospital bed.
“I looked over and saw that his bed was made, and he wasn’t there, and he wasn’t with me, and I for a moment had a fear,” Jeanne said. “That was the last moment of consciousness that I remember, and I had a fear that he had died.”
Donnie was discharged after about a week; he recalls conversations with the doctor about Jeanne’s condition.
“He said, ‘I get her oxygen levels where I need them, and I’m pumping air in there to try to open her lungs up, because they’re stuck together,’ but in doing so, he said, ‘I put too much air around her heart,'” he said.
Donnie says the doctor told him Jeanne’s sugar levels were high and asked him about possible dialysis. The doctor was also asking him about possible life support in case she had a heart attack from the air pumping.
Donnie says the solution was to pray.
“It was just unbelievable people praying. [The doctor] calls me the next morning and says, ‘well I have no idea why,’ but he said, ‘her oxygen levels are way better than I thought they’d be,’ he said, ‘which let me get her sugar under control.’ He said, ‘as soon as I got that under control, her kidneys started functioning,” he said.
Jeanne says when she was intubated, she had hallucinations.
“It felt like I had plastic plants in my mouth, and I needed to get them out, and I was going across a field, and I had to cross a creek, and all I knew was I had to get across the creek before I could get that fungus out, someone was going to help me get that out,” she said. “At some point during that time, I pulled that ventilator out. When I did, my oxygen changed, and I began to get better.”
Jeanne says she was very weak when she wasn’t sedated anymore.
“I would get very agitated, and [the nurses] could see when [Donnie] talked to me that I would calm down, so he’s my hero for that reason,” she said.
At first, it was difficult for her to talk.
“She started improving not by the day, but by the hour,” Donnie said.
“The medical technology, the prayers, the great care that I got, and the grace of God is why I’m here,” Jeanne said.
Now, she’s doing physical therapy, regaining her strength.
“We’re both very curious how we even caught [the virus], because we’re just not around people and chose not to have the vaccine. In hindsight, I probably would, because I’ve never been so sick in my life. All the doctors in the hospital, they didn’t say, ‘you should be vaccinated.’ They said, ‘we still want you to have a choice, but they said, ‘in our hospital nobody who has had the vaccination has died and that’s the difference,'” she said. “It’s still a choice.”