It’s not every day that a former patient voluntarily comes back to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
But on a recent bright fall afternoon, Jesus Q. did exactly that.
He returned to Hillsboro Medical Center to personally thank the committed team that took care of him every day as he battled COVID-19 at our hospital from December 2020 – April 2021.
“I’m emotional today because you worked really hard to take care of me,” Jesus told his former care team made up of physical therapists, nurses, speech language pathologists and more. “You always told me to keep fighting.”
And that fight was not easy. Due to his low oxygen levels, Jesus was on a ventilator and in the ICU for over four months.
“It was a really, really hard time. . .I couldn’t talk or feel anything,” he remembers.
“Jesus was so debilitated that he could not move any muscles, whether it be trying to wiggle a finger or to turn his head,” recalls Rehabilitation Services Manager Paula Fleskes. “We were so excited when he could finally squeeze a soft-touch call button to be able to call the nurse when he needed something.”
Jesus was profoundly grateful for the quality care he received during his time at Hillsboro Medical Center. “Without their care, it [his recovery] would be almost impossible,” Jesus noted. “They treated me like a human being and took care of me like family.”
As Jesus reunited with his former care team, he provided updates about his recovery process ever since he left Hillsboro Medical Center. Last year, he was fortunate to receive a lung transplant at a hospital in Seattle.
“And I finally got to eat that T-bone steak,” he proudly told his former speech language pathologist, Eliza Heavenrich, with a mile-wide smile. It was a goal he had repeatedly mentioned to her during their sessions to help him regain the ability to swallow.
It is simple pleasures such as this, as well as watching his grandkids score soccer goals and dancing with his niece at a family gathering, that Jesus is most grateful for.
“Es una emoción muy grande porque es una oportunidad más de vida [It’s a tremendous feeling because it is another opportunity at life],” says Jesus’ wife Virginia.
Jesus’ message to others in the recovery process? “Don’t give up. I do my best every day to keep my body working,” he says. “God did his part first. Then the doctors. And now it’s up to me.”
Writer & photographer: Natasha Lesch