MORA, Minn. (WCCO) — He went from one of the Twin Cities’ most critical COVID patients to survive to a 54-year-old Mora man still struggling to breathe.
Jerry Greenwood looked back on his more than 100 days in the hospital and his uncertain future.
“They come in with your file and they just shake their head. They can’t believe you’re here,” Greenwood said of his doctors who see him now.
Having a conversation sitting on his living room couch in Mora seemed far off a few months ago.
“Yeah his file is pretty big. Everyone wants to listen to his lungs,” his wife Lila Greenwood joked.
Jerry Greenwood’s fight with COVID-19 was documented through pictures that captured the cruel reality of a pandemic that, for months, they’d worked to avoid.
“Hand sanitizer. Going out very little, just to shop and come back,” Lila Greenwood said.
A longtime service manager at a local car dealership and a diabetic, Jerry’s entire family became infected last November. They all got by with mild symptoms.
“So, I thought well, that’s what I’m going to go through. But, it hit me in a whole different way,” Jerry Greenwood said.
His wife, Lila, told us in March this past year over zoom of her husband’s will to live. From a ventilator to an ECMO machine at Abbott, months of setbacks.
It’s time that Jerry doesn’t remember. Learning to walk and to talk all over again.
In all, 114 days passed until he went home in April.
“A lot of people think, ‘Oh, you’re out of the hospital. You’ve made it, you’re done.’ That was not even half the battle,” Jerry Greenwood said.
“I never took anything. Not even a vitamin,” Jerry said of his life before.
Now, heart medication, blood thinners and pills for PTSD from the time he spent in a coma. In all, he takes 20 a day.
“I can’t lift much more than … level-wise,” he said as he tried to raise his arms and couldn’t.
His body could also take up to a year to get back to a normal range of motion.
But, it is perhaps Jerry’s breathing that is most jarring.
“You walk to the next room and you’re fighting for a breath, thinking, am I going to get over this one?” he said of the thoughts that go through his mind.
Describing it as a consistent feeling of drowning that has again sent him to the hospital twice. Still, he is focused on getting better for his family.
“The one part that I haven’t been able to do, I haven’t been able to get on the floor with my granddaughter. You know, because I’d never get up,” he said.
The small things he once took for granted and a reminder of the struggle that for some COVID has left behind.
“The long-term battle is what I’m fighting every day,” Jerry Greenwood said.
Doctors tell Jerry his breathing will have to dramatically improve before they’re comfortable operating on his shoulders to get back to a full range of motion.
His medical bills have topped more than $1 million and it’s unknown when or if he’ll be able to work again. There is a fund set up to help.