Oct 24, 2020 1:00 AM

COVID-19: My Story Episode 8-Cory Griffith's transcript

Posted Oct 24, 2020 1:00 AM

Cory Griffith's:

You don't have the energy level. A conversation with your wife or another loved one lasts about one to two minutes, so that takes its toll on you as you are in isolation from everybody for a week.

Nick Gosnell:

Welcome to COVID-19: My Story. I'm Nick Gosnell.

Cory Griffith's:

Hi, my name is Cory Griffith's. This is my COVID-19 story. I live in Lindsborg, Kansas, out in rural Lindsborg, Kansas on the family farm. Do a lot of outdoor activities. Spend a lot of time traveling with my wife, children are all grown and out of the house. Then I work for Hutch Regional Health Care System as the Director of Safety.

Nick Gosnell:

As safety director for a hospital, obviously you knew more about it sooner than the average person, but what did you think before you got sick?

Cory Griffith's:

We started back in January receiving more and more updated information on COVID, the projections of COVID in the United States. We started dusting off old response plans for similar pandemic responses, kind of testing the waters, reaching out to resources, getting everybody's feel on it. I took COVID as being a very serious threat. Initially, as this developed, January, February, March, April, and May, we started seeing cases in Reno County. As we saw more and more cases coming into the hospital, we increased what our protocols were to prevent anyone from getting it, having those in place and doing our due diligence. I truly believed that if I would contract COVID, I would have gotten it here at work. Working at the hospital is pretty much ground zero. Where my office sat at the time was just off the ED, so any patients that were potential COVID patients would be coming in through our ED waiting room and into our ED right off of my office.

Cory Griffith's:

I walk through that area on a regular basis, but we had protocols in place for cleaning, segregation of different types of patients based on whether they needed regular emergency department care for such things as a laceration and needed some stitches, to a stroke alert, or a broken bone, or COVID. So we could isolate these individuals, segregate them out, and then triage and treat accordingly. Moving forward, we had all these protections in place, and then July 3rd, is what tracked it back to, I contracted COVID through a family member at home. They had contracted it in Saline County, where they work or out at the farm, and that's how I contracted it. We did testing, the family member, on July 6th, went into quarantine on July 7th when that came back as a positive test. Then I went symptomatic July 8th. When I went symptomatic, it was a severe headache, top of your neck, lower back of your head. It wrapped around the top of your head.

Cory Griffith's:

I had chills. I had a low grade fever throughout, and then the worst part was body aches. I had body aches that I had never felt so much pain. It hurts to touch your skin. These symptoms continued to build. July 10th, I am asthmatic so they complicated my asthma. I ended up in the Hutchinson Regional Medical Center ER with breathing issues. My O2 stats dropped into the low 80's. I was tested at that time. I was dehydrated, so I was provided IV hydration, prescription steroids, and then discharged home once they got my O2 stats up and stabilized. July 11th at home, I ended up having to go on oxygen at home. July 13th, I ended up coming back to the ER and was then a direct admit to the COVID unit. O2 stats deplenished throughout this experience of the 8th through the 13th. When they got me into the COVID unit, they put me on a standard O2 feed with two liters of oxygen. They began hydration through IVs and then provided me with steroids.

Cory Griffith's:

I went ahead and signed the consent and went for the experimental drug Remdesivir, as well as requesting platelets with antibodies. I did five days of Remdesivir and then received a transfusion on my fourth day of the antibodies. On the 14th, my O2 concentration was not good, so they put me on an Airvo, which is a high concentration O2 machine, at 80% oxygen. I was on this through the morning of the 17th. The morning of the 16th, I received my platelets with antibodies, and then on the 17th, they pulled me from the Airvo, put me back on regular O2, and by the late afternoon on the 17th, had weaned me off of the O2. I was holding in the low 90's, and then I was discharged home. I could not return to work until follow-up, so I spent a week at home resting recuperating, and then returned to work on the 28th.

Cory Griffith's:

From the 28th to about August 7th, I noticed a big concern and issue with my energy level. I had none. So I was working anywhere from two to three hours a day, having to stay home and work from home. Might get one or two full days in, but I just didn't have the energy level to work or be at work and complete a full day. This went on. The energy level was like this through a follow-up appointment with my physician, Dr. Musa, where we ended up going back on steroids for a week, oral steroids, and then weaned me off the oral steroids for the second time. The energy level, lapse of energy level, lasted approximately 59 days from discharge of the hospital. Other identified issues with COVID after being discharged from the hospital, not only the energy level, but ongoing breathing issues based on how it impacted my asthma and increased my asthma, and the effects of asthma and breathing due to lung cell damage.

Cory Griffith's:

One of the post COVID issues is spots on the lungs at this time, which we are monitoring. Still trying to track down, I believe, and I was told that the Remdesivir has a side effect of kind of a metal taste in your mouth, similar to a chemo drug. I had this when I was in the hospital and I've had it on and off throughout, to where I still have it today. Periodically, it'll kick in and you have a metal taste in your mouth for a day or two, and then it goes away. Care and treatment wise, I had a great team of physicians. Dr. Al-Halawani, Dr. Musa, Dr. Peterie, PA with Dr. Peterie's office. I believe it's Bornholdt. Then the hospitalist group here at Hutch Regional, the ER physician group, and then the amazing nursing group. The care was exceptional. Everyone was very clear and concise with their communication to me.

Cory Griffith's:

I was part of the decision planning. As a COVID patient, I couldn't have visitors, so my only communication to the outside was by cell phone. I'll tell you right now, when you have COVID and you're at that level of symptoms, you don't have the energy level. A conversation with your wife or another loved one last about one to two minutes, and so that takes its toll on you as you are in isolation

from everybody for a week. The nursing staff really went out of their way and was really good about if they just had a minute, a spare minute of their day, to just stop and take the time to talk to you. It lessened that impact on you while you're in that hospital room.

Nick Gosnell:

I've heard from other patients, other people I've interviewed for this, that they had some brain fog issues. Did you ever have a period of that?

Cory Griffith's:

Yeah, and that was that timeframe. Most of it was during my first week or so, week, week and a half, back to work. It really affected me to where I just couldn't track. I ended up going to a meeting and where I'd normally take two or three notes and have a good summary of the meeting, I was writing very detailed notes because I couldn't recall the information later, or just couldn't process it and I had to go back, look at it two or three times to process it. So yeah, there was some fogginess there. You have to take the precautions, so the hand hygiene, wearing the mask. I know the mask are uncomfortable. We wear them here 24/7 when we're at work, unless we're isolated in our own personal office space, or we can socially distance at a greater distance than six feet.

Cory Griffith's:

Taking those precautions, wearing that mask, wiping things down, limiting yourself to social contact with others. We're seeing a great influx of cases here across the United States and especially in Reno County. You're seeing a lot of sporting events that had started up and they're continuing, and there's a lot of different social gatherings that folks are going to. You really need to prioritize and think, do I need to be there? If I do need to be there, what precautions can I take? There's a lot of places ... Don't fall to the peer pressure of, I'm not going to wear a mask. Wear your mask, do what you need to do that's best for you and your family. You contract it, take it back to your family, it's not just you. It's going to effect 10 other individuals out of 100. Listen to your doctors, research it, pay attention.

Cory Griffith's:

If you do get sick with this, if you have concerns, talk to your doctor. Be very frank with them. Be clear and concise in your communication with them, ask the right questions, research it, know going in, full and well, what the expectations are of COVID-19, what it does to the body. If you have preexisting conditions like mine with lung conditions, with asthma, you really need to think. I mean, put yourself out there for the social distancing. I can't impact it enough on you that, if you have lung issues, they're going to be 10 folds worse.

Cory Griffith's:

I'd like to lie about my age, but I'm not going to. So I'm 51. When I turned 50, I went full asthmatic and I was on one inhaler. With COVID, I'm on two inhalers and emergency inhaler to boot, and that's a year later. Here's the kicker, July 13th, when I got put in the hospital, that was my birthday. So I spent my birthday eating red jello and laying in the hospital bed with COVID. The asthma since COVID has really kicked into high gear. I really have difficulty breathing. Things I used to do on a regular basis, go outside, work with the horses, work out in the fields and things like that, really shuts me down now.

Nick Gosnell:

Our thanks to Cory Griffith's for telling us his COVID 19 story. If you'd like to tell your COVID-19 story on a future episode, just email us at [email protected], and you could be a part of a future episode of COVID-19: My Story on hutchpost.com and your favorite podcast app.