Beating COVID, and the odds
At 89 years old, Herman Perry believes life is best lived when you’re active and involved. For the last 35 years, he’s worked as a locker room attendant for the Toledo Country Club, a jovial and welcoming presence as members pass in and out for activities. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In mid-April, Herman began having headaches and a dry cough. By the end of the month, he visited the emergency room where he tested positive for COVID-19.
Doctors also diagnosed pneumonia and low oxygen levels. Herman avoided being placed on a ventilator, which his family and care team took as a hopeful sign. Instead, a high-flow oxygen mask supported Herman’s breathing.
He has little memory of his time in intensive care, though Herman jokes “I thought I had one foot in the coffin.”
Herman stabilized after three weeks. No longer requiring daily, life-saving intervention, he was ready for the next phase of recovery.
He hoped to go home, and back to work if possible. His family chose Regency Hospital Toledo for its experience caring for medically complex patients.
A physician-led team, including nurses and therapists, created a plan to help Herman recover.
For the first few weeks, Herman fought an uphill battle. Struggling with mental confusion and oxygen levels that dropped each time he exerted himself, Herman continued to need high-flow oxygen.
Herman and his nurses, physical and occupational therapists kept at it. Therapists moved him as much as he safely tolerated.
Respiratory therapists led him through deep breathing, exhaling and inhaling routines and chest exercises to build stamina and lung capacity.
Nurses checked on him regularly and engaged him in conversation whenever possible. They moved him into a chair or helped him stand briefly on good days.
In early June, Herman hit a milestone. He stood at the sink, washed up and shaved with an occupational therapist beside him. Throughout the task, his oxygen levels remained steady. Buoyed by the progress, Herman kept up his grooming routine until it was complete. The next day, he walked a short distance and performed a few range of motion exercises with his arms and legs without feeling breathless.
The following week, Herman walked 170 feet down the hallway with help. His memory began clearing and he said he just felt “better.”
By the middle of June, Herman was ready to go home, to the delight of his family and hospital team. He’s going to spend time with his daughter, with a goal of getting back to his own house and the country club sometime soon.