Peter Simard stares at the bright spring sunlight as his wife Celine Lavriniere pushes his wheelchair through the front door and down the ramp just built in front of their Gatineau, Kew, Bungalow.
“It’s nice to be outside in the sun, and to be able to see my children,” says Simard, 59.
It’s especially sweet because Simard wasn’t supposed to be here. His doctors thought he would be another victim of COVID-19, but his family has other ideas.
“Mom, I think I’m going to die.”
Before everything turns black, Simard remembers waking up on a Tuesday afternoon in August and picking up the phone.
“I called my mom, and I said, ‘Mum, I think I’m going to die.'” I couldn’t breathe. “
Simard had been feeling unwell the week before, and that Friday, he learned that he had tested positive for COVID-19. His condition rapidly deteriorated.
Lavrinier, 50, decided it was time to call 911.
“It wasn’t a joke,” she said. “You can see he was struggling to breathe.”
They decided it was over, and I wasn’t ready for that.Celine Lavriniere
When the paramedics arrived, they gave Simard oxygen, but as soon as the mask was removed he started panting again.
“It’s like someone is holding your nose and mouth, and you can’t get any air,” he recalls.
On August 25, Simard was transferred to Hull Hospital where he was admitted to the COVID-19 ward. Two days later, he was transferred to the COVID-19 intensive care unit where he was the only patient.
A week after her husband’s admission, Lavriniere received a phone call from the doctor who told her “Peter is not feeling well.”
Simard was placed in a medical coma and on a ventilator. Lavrinier had seen the statistics.
“I knew it was really, really bad at the time,” she said.
Buy time for a miracle
Simard tested negative for COVID-19 on September 21, and his family was finally allowed to visit.
Claire Simard, 37, the eldest of Peter’s five children, recalls, “It was really scary and scary for all of us.” “We were all together, surrounding my father with our love and energy.”
But patients could only safely remain under intubation for a long time, so after a few days doctors had to perform a tracheal incision in order to keep Seymard breathing on a ventilator. There were complications, and he had a bacterial infection in both lungs.
With his lungs calcifying and his other organs failing, Simard’s prognosis was grim. Doctors called his three adult children and Lavriniere at a meeting on October 3 and told them the medical team had run out of options.
“[The doctor] He said, “Peter is going to die. There is nothing we can do.” Lavriniere remembers, “He will die.”
But the family was determined to keep trying, and insisted that the doctors continue with the dialysis that keeps his organs working.
I said, ‘It is neither I nor you who will make the decision. He would. ”And Lavriniere said, I was okay with that, you know, at least we’d be trying everything.
“They decided it was over, and I wasn’t ready for that,” she said. “I said, ‘You read about miracles every day, so why not be one?’
She said the doctors got the message. Shortly after the meeting, they began giving prednisone, which is a steroid that is commonly used to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation in conditions like asthma.
“It saved him time. It saved his life,” Lavriniere said.
CBC requested interviews with the medical team who took care of Seamard at Hull Hospital, but a Regional Health Authority spokesperson rejected the request, citing patient confidentiality.
Ottawa Morning10:20A man recovers from Covid disease after two months in a coma
Cowboy rides again
On November 2, Lavrinier arrived on her daily 45-minute visit.
Although Simard remained in a coma, she spent the first 15 minutes catching up with family news, the next 15 minutes reading from an inspiring book – Tony Robbins was a favorite – and the last 15 minutes were presenting her spirited talk to her husband. She didn’t know if any of it was passing, but she would just keep trying.
That day, she walked into the room, said hello, hung her coat and turned around to see her husband’s eyes half open.
It marked the beginning of another long journey that was no less terrifying for Simard and his family.
Paralyzed by Guillain-Barré syndrome, Simard was conscious but unable to move or communicate.
His son made him an alphabet chart, and slowly, over the next several weeks, Simard was able to tell his family that he was ready to return. Within six or seven weeks of waking up from a coma, he was starting to speak.
Simard’s miraculous recovery continued at La RessourSe Rehabilitation Center in Gatineau, continuing to impress the medical staff. He even got the nickname “The Cowboy” for his enthusiastic attitude.
“I exceeded all the expectations they set for me because I wanted to go home,” said Simard.
On May 13th, he gets his wish, and returns home to greet the heroes, his wife and children by his side as they have been for the past eight and a half months.
“I was not ready to go”
The once-active 59-year-old knows he still has a long way to go.
Before contracting COVID-19, Simard played hockey and logging on a piece of woodland the family owned in the Pontiac region of Quebec. Promoted to General Manager at Benson Truck & Trailer Specialists in Ottawa.
He said, “There was nothing I couldn’t do.” “Today, I find it difficult to lift a cup of tea.”
He is able to walk about 10 meters before he is forced to sit, but as he did in the hospital and rehab center, Simard is showing progress every day. He aims to clear the slope in front of his home within six weeks and replace his wheelchair with a treadmill.
Simard takes credit for his faith and his family and has no ill intent towards the doctors who thought he was going to die.
“The message isn’t … the doctors were wrong. Doctors don’t know,” said Simard. “My kids weren’t willing to let me go, and I wasn’t ready to go.”
Lafrenière’s advice to other families in a similar situation is twofold: Don’t be afraid to question the advice of medical professionals, and never lose hope.
“Don’t let people tell you it’s over. You won’t give up on yourself, don’t give up.” [on a loved one] As for. Then they desperately need you. “