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He road-tripped through Arizona with his wife Michelle and their kids, visited slot canyons, rode side-by-side ATVs and did a boat tour of Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River. As they traveled, local events started shutting down around them: COVID had come to America and everyone would soon be affected. After he got home to Lone Tree on March 20, Jason began to feel ill. It all started with pressure and pain in his chest.
Michelle, a nurse, brushed it off.
Jason had been anxious about a few things and she thought it was just his nerves. But he started coughing and it quickly got worse. When Jason first got sick, there were fewer than cases of coronavirus reported in the state. Later, revised s showed that the disease was spreading quickly; the actual case was much higher and growing.
At the time, officials were mostly focused on older people or people with diseases that compromised their immune system or heart. But as he got sicker, his story became a cautionary example of how little is still known about who gets sick and why. And his case became a test of the medical providers fighting a disease they hardly understood — and the vast resources it can require to beat it. He was one of 1, Coloradans who'd required hospitalization by then and one of more than reported hospitalized that day.
The of people in Colorado sick enough each day to need hospitalization would climb past And there was nothing I could do.
Most hospitals block visitors from seeing patients for fear of infections; and the behavior of the disease is still mysterious enough few civilians know what the right path forward is. On top of that, many are navigating an overwhelming medical system, making decisions about care on the fly, and often with little information and time. But here, Jason was lucky. As a nurse, Michelle knew when his conditions worsened enough for him to go to the ER, something a person without medical training might have missed, and understood the treatments, the options, the care.
Once in the ER, Michelle thought his providers would give Jason Man looking for men pain 40 colorado oxygen and release him within a day or two; they texted back and forth about his condition throughout the first day. But within a couple of days, the hospital called and told Michelle his condition had grown more worrisome: They had to put Jason on a ventilator. My doctors that I worked for were consulted on his case. And so they were also laying eyes on Man looking for men pain 40 colorado and calling me.
The morning after Jason was put on the ventilator, Michelle was sitting at her kitchen table and their eight-year-old daughter Kestin came downstairs. Family members were already on their way to help and Kestin would know that something was wrong. His doctors told Michelle they could not see the outline of his lungs. Normally when you take in a deep breath, the air filling your lungs looks dark on a scan. There was nothing else Sky Ridge could do. Jason needed more intense medical care than they could provide, so they decided he needed to go to another hospital, The Medical Center of Aurora.
The cardiac surgeon on call there that day was Dr. Jennifer Hanna; she was the one to review his case and figure out what else they could do to save him. Really this age group that thinks they're kind of invincible are very vulnerable. I mean, we're talking, he doesn't drink, doesn't smoke. Before catching the coronavirus, he'd spent just one night in the hospital in his life, when he had his appendix taken out in high school, 25 years ago. One theory is that in younger patients like Jason the disease unleashes what doctors are calling a cytokine storm : They catch the virus and their immune system kicks into overdrive and attacks other organs.
Another theory is that genetics can make some people more vulnerable to the virus. Hanna says the disease is scary for doctors because research is still evolving and doctors have no idea how it will act. And it often moves quickly so they have little time to respond. Jason was already on a ventilator, but Hanna and her colleagues thought a different kind of machine might help, too: ECMO, which stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. It takes the blood out of the heart, oxygenates it and then pumps it back into the rest of the body, keeping it alive and allowing the lungs to rest and heal.
For days, there were no major s of progress. Doctors wanted to try several experimental treatments. First, they suggested a drug called tocilizumab, which depresses the immune system, putting Jason at risk for a secondary infection but also potentially quieting the immune storm inside his body.
They also suggested convalescent blood plasmawhere blood from people who recovered from COVID is pumped into the patient, to help provide antibodies that might fight the infection. On the day before Easter, a week and a half after Jason entered the emergency room, she broke down. The next day, Easter Sunday, the doctors called and said he was approved for the trial study to do the convalescent plasma.
At The Medical Center of Aurora, doctors and nurses were seeing a lot of really sick patients, and they were seeing a lot of patients die, a heavy mental weight to carry around. She was just returning from maternity leave and Jason was her very first patient.
Her son Brooks was about 8 weeks old and she says she worried about bringing the virus home. A doctor in New York died by suicide after treating COVID patients; a Colorado paramedic who answered the call to help in New York in midst of an outbreak there died from the disease.
Amy Cooper, one of the nurses who treated Jason, has worked in intensive care units for ten years but even so, managing patients who are fighting to survive COVID has been tough. While Michelle worried, doctors began to see s of hope he might survive. Then, the day after Easter, his condition suddenly began to improve.
His chest x-ray and his lab got better every day. A few days later, providers were able to turn off the ECMO, and then the next day the ventilator. Little by little, Jason started to wake up. He had no idea how he got there, drifting in and out of awareness. A collage of family pictures, put together by a friend, hung from the wall of his hospital room. It's so great to see you. That doctor at his bedside was Joe Forrester, a pulmonologist.
This is a journey. We'll power through it. You made it through the tough part. You made it. And I think before that he really didn't see an end in sight. Jason had lost between 25 and 30 pounds in two and a half weeks. Back when Jason got sick, Michelle had circled one key date: her birthday on April On April 18th, two days after he woke up, Jason wished her happy birthday over Facetime. Their daughter Kestin says everyone, including family, friends and neighbors, pitched in to help the family while her dad was sick. In Colorado, nearly 1, people have been treated with that therapy.
No publication time frame for the drug trial has yet been announced. Researchers are also studying tocilizumab, which Jason received, though not as part of an FDA clinical trial. The drug has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritisand is Man looking for men pain 40 colorado a of other treatments to deal with the cytokine storm Jason experienced. But it seems likely his fitness was a decisive factor. He had to overcome the stress of being on a mechanical ventilator, ECMO, and lying in bed for weeks, which can lead to muscle atrophy.
Those lucky enough to survive may suffer permanent disabilityincluding things like kidney failure, neurologic damage and post-traumatic stress disorder. Since most are older, Medicare would cover most of those bills. He expects to start getting bills soon, but says he has good insurance through his company. He is watching to see if there will be some government assistance to help coronavirus patients pay their medical bills. I'll pay whatever.
Both have vowed they willbut insurance industry experts and health care economists expect to see surprise bills and gaps in coverage.
Melton, who treated him as he recovered, told him a few members of his medical team wanted to say goodbye. He got in a wheelchair and she took him to the elevator. When they got downstairs and rounded the corner, they met an explosion of cheers. The moment was caught on video, the kind that has trickled out in the last few months, moments of joy in a dark time.
Jason was one of the first survivors to leave The Medical Center of Aurora; his video was one of the first to go viral. A nurse hands him several balloons. Dozens and dozens of hospital staff, most wearing blue scrubs, wave and cheer.
At first, Jason looks stunned. It was an amazing feeling to be filled with happy tears. She watched the video on Facebook, sitting in bed with her husband and .Man looking for men pain 40 colorado
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