COVID-19 patient makes miraculous recovery and rejoins family on Christmas Eve 2020
All year long, Ed Colegrove was looking forward to December 2020 when he planned to celebrate his 71st birthday and his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife, Mary.
However, COVID-19 altered those plans — dramatically.
In October 2020, Mary had COVID-19, and Ed was taking care of her when he began to feel ill. He thought that if he just rested, his breathing would improve.
Ed recalled: “It was November 6, 2020. When I got up to go to the bathroom that night, I fell. My daughter Beverly happened to be staying with us, and she checked my blood oxygen level, which was down 50 percent. Beverly called 911, but I have no recollection of being taken to the ER or being at Mercy Health Medical Center in Muskegon.”
Testing positive for COVID-19, Ed was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in critical condition and placed on a machine to push air into his lungs. Three days later, he asked if he could speak with his wife and three daughters who were unable to visit him. Ed’s daughter, Christie, recapped that conference call.
“His breathing was labored, his voice was weak, and it was harder to hear him through the mask. He said, ‘I spend all day and all night just trying to breathe. I’m tired. Do you want me to keep fighting?’ We said yes, please keep fighting and we will keep praying. He replied, ‘Okay, I’ll keep fighting, even if I have to go on a vent.’”
During a conference call with a nurse practitioner who explained the severity of his illness, Ed’s family was given a choice concerning comfort care vs. placing their loved one on a ventilator. Ed was doing so poorly that the family was told he would likely pass away with either choice they made. Knowing that Ed promised to fight for his life, the family chose the ventilator.
That evening, a pastor friend from Grand Rapids held a prayer service in the hospital parking lot in Muskegon. Although it was a cold, windy and rainy night, many church members stood outside with umbrellas while others remained in their vehicles and hundreds more tuned in via Facebook live to join in prayer for Ed’s healing. People from around the world were praying for him. Family and friends, including Ed’s 91-year-old mother, prayed that God would protect him with the help of angels.
In the days that followed, Ed’s condition fluctuated. During one of the difficult days, a Mercy health chaplain anointed him with oil and prayed with the family via Zoom. Eventually Ed’s care team felt they could work toward his improved condition and that he would wake up.
Days passed, but Ed did not wake up. His body was too weak. The ventilator was doing all the breathing for him. Once again, the family was offered comfort care for their family member.
The family wasn’t ready to take that difficult step. Instead, Ed’s daughters asked the nurse to set up a FaceTime call so they could talk to their dad, and he could hear their voices.
“We were on FaceTime for a while,” Christie recalled. “I told my dad, ‘Tomorrow is my birthday. The best birthday gift you could give me is to wake up.’ Tears started flowing as I begged him to wake up, but there was no reaction from him.”
However, later that night, the nurse called Beverly and said, “Your dad just woke up and opened his eyes!”
Christie shared what followed. “Beverly called the rest of us crying happy tears while telling us ‘Dad’s awake!’ After 15 days in a coma, my father woke up! We all rejoiced, thanking God for this miracle.”
The family immediately set up a 24-hour prayer chain that began at midnight on Monday, November 30 and ended on Friday, December 4. On Thursday, December 3, Ed’s 71st birthday, the pulmonologist was able to extubate Ed, who was finally free of the ventilator. On Friday, Ed was well enough to be moved from ICU to a COVID step-down unit.
Ten days later, Ed was transferred to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids where he completed 10 days of in-patient rehabilitation. This once-critical COVID patient was discharged to go home on December 24, 2020, Christmas Eve.
“I have almost no memory of being in the ICU,” Ed admits. His wild “memories” from his coma are really nightmares, including a vivid recollection of “wandering lost in Muskegon…I could not find my home.”
Yet Ed does remember some of the care he received at Mercy Medical Center in the step-down unit.
“The nurses were so gracious, so helpful. I had no control of my body, yet every time I needed it, they’d get me cleaned up. What dedication these people have. I’m so thankful that these people are there,” Ed said.
“You know, nurses who took care of me in the ICU came to check on me when I was moved to a different floor. They were glad to see me because they thought they were going to lose me. They told me that I was a fighter.”
Ed’s eldest daughter, Colleen, gives us a vivid glimpse into the man he is: “It’s a miracle in itself watching my dad become even more of a hero to me.”
Still recovering and improving through in-home services, Ed is grateful to have a future.
“I am here through God’s grace. I am most looking forward to taking my wife out to eat, visiting friends and getting back to church.”
Grateful for Ed’s remarkable medical care, Christie speaks for the entire family:
“We want to thank all the staff at Mercy Health Muskegon and Mary Free Bed for taking care of our father. The staff at Mercy Health filled in the gaps when we weren’t able to be with our dad, and we thank them for taking the time to give us updates and set up Zoom calls, and for giving tirelessly of themselves day after day, fighting this horrible virus.
“We also want to thank the staff at Mary Free Bed for helping our father work to regain his strength and independence.”
Stay the Course: Mercy Health reminds readers to continue to follow the CDC guidelines. Even if you have received the COVID-19 vaccine, please wear a mask, socially distance yourself from others, wash your hands often and do not gather with people outside of your immediate household. Thank you for your resilience and commitment to safety.