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Shawnee family battles, survives COVID-19

Katy and Jason Green and family, Shawnee

Katy and Jason Green and family, Shawnee

Q. Can you talk about how your family developed COVID-19?
A. (Katy) Well, first, our two daughters, we have teenagers. The youngest one, she is 15. She had a fever and she had like a cough and she wasn't horribly sick. But it was on my mind about coronavirus. So, of course, we kept her home from school and just kept an eye on her. She is a Type 1 diabetic. So that made us a little bit more hypersensitive to how she was doing. We called her pediatrician and asked right away if we should get a test. And she said there aren't tests in Johnson County right now. And if she can't breathe, bring her to a hospital. But she could breathe fine. So, we just kind of rode that out. It lasted two or three days. And by the third day, she had a horrible rash on her face and they just said, that's very common with any virus. Our older daughter, who's 18, she had a fever and a cough. She never did acquire or develop a rash. But she was sick enough that she slept a lot and had a little fever and a cough. And it lasted two or three days for her, too. And then the major sickness came when we got it. And we weren't that concerned about all of it because we're not high risk in many ways. We're 46 years old. But speaking for myself, I guess we had a lot going on at the time. We were packing our house, try to get ready for a move. I just kept noticing how my back hurt so bad. And it felt like somebody had beat me with a baseball bat. But I thought I hurt it while packing boxes. 

(Jason) Our girls really were sick at the beginning, middle of the week. And by the end of the week, I felt like I was getting sick, and I think Katy felt the same way. And really, what I recall is having a pretty high temperature, a lot of fatigue a dry cough, and just it got to the point where I really didn't care to even take care of myself. I felt so poorly and so sick. And then I just really got to the point where I wanted to go to the hospital. Both me and Katy went to the hospital the same day, same time. So, we went to the hospital and they ended up letting my wife go. But they said that I looked a little bit worse than she did. They told my wife to presume that she was positive and go home and quarantine or isolate with the girls. 

(Katy) He’d call us sometimes, but he wasn't doing very well. But he called to say he was going on a ventilator. And that was a horrible phone call, because it was really the phone call to tell everybody goodbye - just in case. So, I was sick lying in bed. The girls were sitting with me on the bed. We put it on speakerphone, and he told them everything he could tell them for advice for the rest of their lives and he stayed on the ventilator for 18 days. It was not looking good. And a couple of times they [hospital staff] said themselves that we cannot do anything more for him. And it's not looking good. So, it was it was very lucky for us and many, many prayers later, that he was able to come off of that ventilator. And just once he did, he kind of just turned right around.

Q. What was it like to begin to get better? 
A.  (Jason) It was a very difficult time not seeing my family for over a month. That was difficult. My physical condition really deteriorated. I wasn't able to stand on my own after I woke up. I wasn't able to walk. When I would talk on my cellphone, it felt like weighed 10 pounds. I didn't have the dexterity in my fingers to be able to text people, so I would just have to call people. So that really took a toll on my body and just not moving for that amount of time while I was on a ventilator. But it also felt really good when I was able to come home. They gave me a really nice sendoff and had what felt like the entire staff of the hospital come down to lobby and see me off. I went to rehab for four days and I got just strong enough to where I could survive at home. I'm still recovering. I still go to physical therapy. I'm still working on elements of my strength. And I still have some residual effects from my illness. But overall, the prognosis I think is good

Q. Do you know how you got COVID-19?
A. (Katy) We don't exactly know where we got it, because what they're thinking now is it was it was pretty much here in Johnson County well before we ever thought it was. There were a lot of kids sick at my daughter's school. They could have had the flu because I had both. It's hard to say if she got it from school, and then we got it from her. I'm a teacher. I'm around germs all the time. That's probably how I got the flu, and COVID-19 came from something else. But also, we did the weekend before, just go to a national volleyball tournament. It was a large tournament in Denver, Colorado. And there were teams from all around. There were thousands of people in this big facility. So, it could have come from there. It's just hard to say where it came from.

Q. What do you want Johnson County residents to know about this illness?
A. (Jason) The idea of mask-wearing really is for the other person. And when you live in a society, you need to make tradeoffs to live with other people in a community. And this is really a very simple tradeoff that people can make. In order to slow the spread of this pandemic, to slow the spread of this virus, we need to wear masks. I wish we weren't dealing with a pandemic. We have COVID fatigue. We miss our family members. We miss being able to travel. And we all miss our normal daily lives. But this is too important of an issue not to care about the other person next to you. 

To hear the Greens share their story, listen to JoCo on the Go where you regularly listen to podcasts. Get the full transcript on jocogov.org/podcast.