Bay City COVID Survivor Shares Her Story

“I tested positive on a Saturday. I’m the principal at Bay City Academy, so after my two weeks of quarantine was up, I came into school to get some paperwork. Just walking from the car to the office, I was exhausted and out of breath—from walking just a few meters. I thought maybe it was because I hadn't done anything for two weeks and I had been so sick.

I drove home and went to bed. It was six o'clock. When I woke up the next morning, I took my oxygen level—it was 80%. My mom is a nurse and when I told her she said, ‘That’s a problem.’

I went to McLaren and they got me right in. The first thing the doctor said was, ‘I bet you have blood clots because that's what we're seeing in this variant of COVID.’ I'd never even heard of blood clots as a symptom you needed to be worried about.

They took me in for some scans and found 10 blood clots in my lungs and in my legs. I went right up to the critical care unit for COVID. They tried a therapeutic first, oxygen and blood thinners for a week, but I wasn't getting any better.

When you're on a COVID floor, you don't get to have visitors. You're lying in a hospital bed completely alone. You're so sick, you can't breathe, and doing just the basic things are hard, like going to the bathroom- you can't even do that on your own.

The doctor came in on day four or five and said, ‘I'm not saying you're not going to make it out of here, but you're just not showing any improvement and we can only go from here to machines. We just don't know how this is going to go but we’re going to do everything we can.’ They were completely honest with me, and I broke down.

Through all of it, you're there by yourself—the nurses are your only human contact. They become your counselor and your friend, and despite what they go through every day, they were still so kind and helpful.

At one point, two people from McLaren leadership came in. They said, ‘We need to move your bed, we think the patient before you left something underneath.’ And I’m thinking, well, that's odd. You would think they would have cleaned after the patient left, but whatever.

They pushed my bed over against the wall and said, ‘You might want to look out the window.’ At this point, I barely had any energy to do anything and now they’re telling me to look out the window. But I looked out, and that's when I saw everyone down below.

There were students, teachers, and parents all holding signs that said things like ‘Get well soon,’ ‘We love you,’ and even ‘Stop skipping work!’. They were cheering and waving, and I called one of the teachers so I could talk to everybody. It felt so good–less lonely, less isolating—to see them, read their signs, and know they would take the time to do something like that. It meant the world to me.

Shortly after, the doctors came in and said they wanted to do surgery, but there was a 50/50 chance it would work.

I agreed, and Dr. Mouawad went in and did the surgery.

Even though it was 50/50, after the surgery, I improved really quickly. I went from needing 90% oxygen to 10% in 24 hours. 48 hours after the surgery, I was in a regular room, and 24 hours after that, I was discharged.

Everyone at McLaren was amazing. Dr. Mouawad was amazing. I had tremendous care, and those COVID nurses are especially amazing. I talked to them a lot while I was there, about what they were going through. They've been doing this for almost two years now and still feel like it is their obligation to serve. Despite everything, they were just so kind and caring.

About a month later, our sixth graders made 100 care packages for the healthcare workers at McLaren. We then loaded on a school bus, and personally delivered them to thank the team. It might not seem like a big deal, but we were told it went a long way.

I have a new appreciation for Bay City Academy, as well. We always say here that we're like a big family, and it's in times like these when you really see it. It's not just a job here for us and you really see that personified in moments like these, where everyone rallies together.

I have a new humility and a thankfulness for life. We like to complain about being busy or having to work too much, but when that's all taken away from you, you get a new appreciation for being able to work hard in the first place. When you're lying in that bed thinking, ‘I might not live through this,’ it helps you see what is really important.

For me, it’s my family and this school. I see it as my ministry, and I feel like God has put me here for a reason. I'm thankful for McLaren and for what I went through. I don't think a lot of people get to have the experience of being forced to reevaluate their life, but it was an experience I was given.

What's the point of going through something like this if you come out the same person? You’ve got to take the opportunity to do something different.”

—Darci Long, Principal/Assistant Superintendent, Bay City Academy