Paul Russell drove from Florida to Boise via Houston. It was early November when a long-distance truck caught the coronavirus along its way.
Russell, 63, knew he was ill before moving to Idaho.
“I did not know I was infected with COVID,” he said. “My friend was about an hour behind me. He reached me in Twin Falls. “She told me I did not look well at all.”
The next few weeks are cloudy, Russell said. He spent more than two weeks at St. Uke’s Health System Hospital, becoming one of 19 patients in a clinical trial to test a new drug for use in COVID-19.
The Idaho Fall Wave provided more clinical trial volunteers from St. Uke than there were in the rest of Spain.
Now, as Russell said, he can no longer work! The long-haul truck has become a COVID-19 “long haul”. He survived the virus, but it damaged his body for a long time.
“According to my doctor, I will be on oxygen for the rest of my life,” he said.
“He did not know whether I would arrive at night”
Russell did not want to give his wife what he had. So when he got home in Boise, he parked and went straight to the couple’s travel attachment.
He received the COVID-19 test that Monday. It was positive. He “spent the winter” in a trailer for two days, he said.
But come on Wednesday morning, he said he was “really, really miserable, I asked my wife to take me to the car so I could be taken to the hospital.”
The ambulance picked him up and took him to St. Uke’s district in Boise. His memory is foggy, but he remembers being sent to the intensive care unit a few hours after his arrival.
He stayed in the WMC for four or five days with high oxygen flow, he said.
At one point, the nurse put the woman on the microphone. “She told him how much she loved him, ‘because she did not know if I would be there at night,'” he said.
“It was the night I visited my father,” he said. “My father has been gone for three years.”
One patient can help the world find COVID-19 treatment
Russell woke up the next day knowing that he was slowly improving. He spent another night at the WMC, then went to a room for less intensive care.
He spent 16 days in the hospital, he said. While he was there, he underwent a clinical trial to try the drug Tocilizumab, an Actemra brand.
St. Lucas was one of about 60 sites around the world that offered experimental medicine to patients like Russell from June to January.
“Sometimes, researchers look at the patient and want to guess, ‘This is definitely someone who has received the study drug,'” he said in clinical trials. Dr. Karen Miller, Chief Investigator for Uke County. “Whether we are right or not remains to be seen, but that was certainly what we did (in this clinical trial).”
Russell does not know if he received the drug. But every night a nurse came in, tied him up with IV, and sat down with him. In other cases, the nurse would bring her other medications or injections to prevent blood clots. Some of them would spend “a lot of time” talking to him as he lay in a hospital bed.
“In general, I can not say enough about how large the staff of St. Lucas was,” he said.
“I think this is a really important piece that we can bring to the people of Idaho,” Miller said of the clinical trials in St. Uke, COVID-19. “Because when we participate in research, the researchers who lead the research have the opportunity to talk to experts around the world and say, ‘Hey, we see that in our study population.’ You are?’ So we solve active problems in real time. ”
Clare Waldren, director of clinical research at St. Uke, said patients taking part in clinical trials are helping advance science.
“One of the top 500 patients in the world is one of the 650 patients who will help the world move forward to understand how we approach it,” he said.
While in the hospital, Russell noticed a rapid improvement in his breathing. “He still needed oxygen, but less and less,” he said.
Russell took it home for Thanksgiving, around 4pm, just in time for dinner with the family.
“It was my best Thanksgiving ever,” he said.
“The only one who did not have a finger tag”
Russell once thought the coronavirus was not a real threat. He did not believe in masks. That has all changed.
“Before I got infected with the virus, I was one of those people who thought the election would go away the next day. “I was one of the theorists of that conspiracy,” he said.
Instead, he was hospitalized with COVID-19 a week after the election.
“All these people who say it is fake, blah blah blah, are deceiving themselves,” he said.
“COVID gave me a vague memory, it gave me. “Sometimes I have speech problems.”
His examination showed a scarred lung. He has pain in different parts of the body. He has dizzy spells. Her heart aches when she gets up to do something.
He said taking a shower could raise his heart rate to 128 beats per minute, the upper limit of strenuous exercise at his age, and lowering blood oxygen levels below normal.
When he returned home from the hospital, he developed what they call the “COVID leg.” “The floor of my feet was cracking. It was as if I was walking with needles.”
He helped her with a course of steroids.
Because he became infected at work, Russell said he was receiving compensation from workers. But paying for the house is not enough, so he sells his family home to move to a less expensive suburb.
His perspective has changed since he was hospitalized for life, he said.
One of his nurses told him that eight patients had left MSC the same week as he did, but that he was “the only one who did not have a fingerprint label,” he said. He asked her to take her finger tag and grind it.
“Life is not good now,” he said. “Except for one thing. I’m alive. “