COLUMBUS, Ohio – It was mid-March, and snowbirds Dan and Dorie Wilson were in Florida.
“They were just going about life all the same,” Dorie said. “I mean, there was absolutely nothing different.”
But then Dan started to feel different.
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“Toward the middle of the month, I started having a cough,” he said. “It really started on Friday the 13th, of all dates.”
At first, the two chalked it up to allergies. But, by the following week, they knew things were getting worse. Dan developed a fever, and they went to urgent care. But they say they could not get him tested and that the hospital told them not to make a trip there if Dan was experiencing coronavirus symptoms.
“I said, ‘I’m packing the car, you’re getting in it, and we’re coming home because you need help, something is wrong, and you know, we’re going,'” Dorie said.
So, they packed up and headed back to Ohio, arriving in Mt. Vernon on Saturday, March 21. They alerted urgent care they were on their way. But Dan was almost immediately transferred to Knox Community Hospital.
He was tested for coronavirus, and, by Monday, he had a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.
“I like to be first in things, but not this,” he said. “And I was actually second, but I had the first real serious case that Knox Community Hospital had to deal with.”
During this time, Dorie was not able to see Dan because of the visitor restrictions most hospitals have in place right now. So she was communicating with him by phone, and Dan would try to wave to her from the window when he could.
But they say their doctor at the hospital would only treat Dan’s symptoms. And he was not getting better. They were worried because Dan has underlying health conditions that can make the virus even worse.
“It’s a mean virus, I mean, it just, and for me personally, it was not only the lungs, but it got in and messed up my blood counts, which I’ve got a pre-condition, blood disease, so it can do all kinds of stuff,” Dan said.
Dorie decided she needed to take matters into her own hands. She started doing her own research, and she reached out to two doctors – a family friend and Dan’s general practitioner.
“Two doctors at two different times who knew Dan’s condition said, ‘if he does not get this medication, he is going to die,'” Dorie said.
That medication was a combination some have touted but has yet to be fully proven effective — hydroxychloroquine, the Z-Pak and zinc sulfate.
Within 24 hours of starting that treatment, Dan’s fever had broken. Within 48 hours, he was even better.
“I felt I had to push, I felt I had to do whatever it took to get him the care,” Dorie said. “Like I said, if it was good enough for the president, it’s good enough for my husband because, at the time, that was really the only treatment that they were even talking about.”
The two know that that particular treatment might not work for everyone, and they pointed out that there are more experimental treatments being discussed now than when Dan was sick. But they felt it was very important to send a message that everyone should prepare and make a plan of some sort.
“You don’t want to get it, you don’t want to get this, and I think people need to take it a little more serious than they are,” Dorie said.
Dorie also believes that she likely had the virus and was asymptomatic, although she was never tested.
But now that they both have been through this experience, they want others to know how serious it can be. And they say they wish everyone would at the very least wear masks while out in public.