NEW CASTLE, Ind. (AP) — Share your theory that the coronavirus pandemic is a hoax, and you’re likely not going to find a receptive audience in Henry County resident Sue Davis.
“Don’t ever think that it can’t happen to you,” Davis, special education coordinator for Shenandoah Schools, said during a recent interview. “I lived it.”
In mid-August, after her own battle with COVID-19 had kept her hospitalized for 10 days, the pandemic claimed the life of Davis’ 78-year-old husband, Allen.
From July 13, when Davis took her “deathly ill” spouse to a Fishers hospital after his ailment had at first been mistaken for a urinary tract infection, until he died a month later, “I did not get to see him again.”
For part of that time, the husband and wife were in relative close proximity as Sue Davis struggled to recover from the coronavirus in the same hospital.
“After a couple of days, they were concerned that both of us might not make it through it,” she said.
Sue Davis listed her symptoms as short-term memory loss, loss of all sense of smell and taste, severe diarrhea, weight loss, lack of appetite, extreme thirst, shortness of breath and a “weakness of muscle” that made it “hurt to walk.”
A blood transfusion eventually seemed to help Sue Davis begin on the road to recovery.
“Within 12 hours, I could feel a big difference,” she said.
However the same procedure, conducted eight times on her spouse — who had a different blood type — didn’t “faze him,” his spouse recalled.
Sue went home on oxygen, with home health care provided, and her daughter staying with her as she regained her strength.
Allen’s condition, however, continued to deteriorate, and he was eventually placed on a ventilator.
In his final days, Allen Davis likely suffered a stroke, and became “totally unresponsive.”
“The machines were keeping him alive,” Sue Davis said. On Aug. 13, after consultation with a pulmonary specialist and a chaplain, the difficult decision was made to end life support.
“Allen died,” she said. “I hope he heard me say goodbye to him, but I’ll never know for sure.”
Only two weeks before he entered the hospital, Allen seemed in good health — and fully recovered from a heart attack suffered four years earlier — as he and Sue enjoyed a pool party and cookout with their daughter, her husband and their children.
Beyond the devastating loss of her spouse of 33 years, Sue Davis is dealing with significant financial woes stemming from her spouse’s death.
AJ Pools, the Chesterfield-based business Allen had operated for 42 years, is likely a thing of the past. “He was the business,” Sue Davis said.
To her mother’s dismay, Davis’ daughter lost her job over the work she missed while caring for her ailing parent.
Davis in recent days returned to her job as special ed coordinator at Shenandoah.
“It’s helpful in that I’m not sitting at home depressed and crying all the time,” she said. “I have something that I’ve forced my mind to focus on.”
Her own recovery continues. Her short-term memory continues to improve. Physicians will monitor spots the virus left on her thyroid.
“It leaves its mark on you,” she said.
After the ordeal that put her life in jeopardy and killed her husband, Davis has been dismayed by those who decline to take steps — primarily wearing face masks — to stop the spread of COVID-19.
After her hospital stay, Davis went to a local restaurant to order a slice of pie, to take home.
The young woman serving as the restaurant’s hostess was not wearing a mask. She told Davis she was supposed to, but declined to comply because “I don’t care.”
“We have got to not look at this as a violation of your rights,” Davis said. “It’s beyond that. It’s a compassion thing. It’s doing what’s right for each other. It’s not about each one of us individually.”
Federal health officials said this week the pandemic has now claimed 200,000 lives in the United States.
That is the approximate population of Delaware, Henry, Randolph and Blackford counties combined.