GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — A North Carolina family went through a COVID-19 nightmare after a family member contracted the virus.
“It was so scary,” said London Kern, of Greensboro. “It could have been stopped.”
Kern never thought the virus would hit so close to home. She is vaccinated, but her husband is not.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen to us,” she said. “This happens to 65-year-olds and people with compromised immune systems but not healthy people.”
On Aug. 9, Kern’s 40-year-old husband Hal started having headaches. At first, they didn’t think it was the coronavirus. He was diagnosed with pneumonia, but all signs pointed to the virus. Kern said he was exhausted and had chills and his fever shot up.
“He just took a major downturn and really couldn’t move, couldn’t get out of bed,” Kern said. “I’ve never seen someone so sick before.”
Kern told WGHP it was eight days before a COVID-19 test came back positive.
She rushed him to the Moses Cone emergency room, but they couldn’t admit him immediately. The hospital was so overrun with COVID-19 patients that they could only admit patients in dire condition, and the hospital did not believe he was at that point.
After a long wait and her husband’s temperature reaching 103.6, they decided to take matters into their own hands.
“Just wondering like, ‘Is he going to survive this?'” Kern said. “‘I don’t know if he’s going to survive this.'”
At home, their bedroom turned into a makeshift hospital room. There were medicine and IV bags by her husband’s bedside as he lay in pain.
“I cried on my floor in the bathroom so he couldn’t hear me,” she said.
His primary doctor got him in-home care and a monoclonal antibody infusion treatment.
“He had to be wheelchaired into the infusion center,” Kern said. “The other people were walking in. He had no energy.”
She didn’t know the worst was yet to come.
“His fever went back up,” she said. “He just was literally in fetal position, like shaking and moaning, and I felt helpless. I no longer knew what to do for him and how to help.”
She feared COVID-19 would take her husband’s life.
“That was the moment when we looked in each other’s eyes, and I said I don’t know what to do anymore. ‘Do you want me to call the ambulance?’ He said yes,” Kern said.
Within a few days, he was improving but still exhausted.
“I will never forget when we looked in each other’s eyes that both of us were absolutely terrified of what the future was going to hold,” she said.
Kern said the COVID-19 vaccine may keep this from happening to other families. “I really believe that,” she said. “If he had just gotten the vaccination, if he had been able to get one, we could have eliminated this whole thing.”
During her husband’s illness, they’ve been away from their three children to keep them safe. “We haven’t got to hug and kiss them,” she said.
Kern told WGHP that their children aren’t eligible for the vaccine yet.
“I’m very worried about it for my children,” Kern said. “It’s real, and it’s here, and it’s not something to be joked about on social media or over a beer. It is killing people. It is taking families away. It’s divided our family.”
She said once her husband is well and cleared to get the vaccine, he plans to do it.
“If you don’t get the vaccine and you get COVID, you may never know what the side effects of the vaccine would’ve been because you may not be here,” she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, common side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine include pain, redness and swelling at the injection site; tiredness; headache; muscle pain; chills; fever, and/or nausea.
However, serious side effects leading to long-term health problems are “extremely unlikely,” the CDC says.