Now COVID-19 negative, Fred Orman, 82, of Karnak, celebrates his departure from Massac Memorial Hospital. “Everyone did such a wonderful job taking care of me. I am just thankful for this hospital; the people here have saved my life. If it wasn’t for the staff here, I wouldn’t have survived,” he said.

Fred and Faye Orman have an extra special reason to celebrate this holiday season.

After a brush with COVID-19, Fred is home in Karnak after a 10-day stay at Massac Memorial Hospital.

For several days, he had been tired, had difficulty breathing and was weak. And it wasn’t like he hadn’t sought help. He’d been in contact with his physician, Dr. Randy Oliver. He’d been to the emergency rooms in Paducah at Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital and Baptist Health Paducah. In fact, he’d been to Baptist every other day for a week. But after waiting for a couple of hours, then getting in an exam room, each time ER doctors gave him the same answer: “You’ve got it, but it’s not that bad.” And they’d send him back home.

“I was just aggravated,” Fred said. “The main thing was the breathing. I couldn’t hardly breathe. The only time I could breathe good was when I was standing up or sitting down.”

Faye was also aggravated. “His oxygen level was good, so that’s why they kept sending him home, because his oxygen level was high. But he didn’t feel like he could breathe good,” she said.

For her, the main thing was her husband’s weakness. He’d fallen three times after getting home from those ER visits.

“Thank the good Lord he didn’t break anything,” she said. “He was just so weak he couldn’t do nothin’, wasn’t eatin’.”

She finally called Oliver and told him something had to be done. Oliver told her he’d developed a plan. That night, Fred “was up every half hour sittin’ up on the bed tryin’ to breathe, and so I called and said, ‘Dr. Oliver, you need to put your plan in now because I can’t handle anymore and he can’t either.’ ”

Oliver said he told them to go straight to admitting at Massac Memorial — that was Dec. 3. Fred was discharged on Dec. 14; he was in for 10 days.

“And that was a blessing and an answer to prayer,” Faye said.

Fred agreed: “It was a blessing for me to get to go there, because I was on my last leg. I really didn’t think I’d be able to make it.”

• • •

In a room to himself, Fred received constant care from nurses who were “in out out of my room all the time. Most of the time, they were trying to keep me from getting out of bed. They was afraid I was going to fall again. They’d be in there when that alarm went off,” he said. “Best bunch of nurses I ever seen. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Along with constant IVs, Fred was on oxygen the whole time, except the last day when they tested to see how he was breathing on his own. Due to the weakness, Fred also had physical therapy.

“That physical therapist Jeff McIntosh — he was really good, he got me going in a hurry,” Fred said. “They’d let me walk, but they had to stand behind me. They’d let me do that every night if I wanted to. I wasn’t really strong enough, but I done it every time I could because I’m not one that sits around and does nothin’.

“I told them I love being outside, even in cold weather. They took me outside two times. The girl came in and said, ‘Are you ready to go outside?’ I said, ‘All right, let’s go!’ The first day they took me out was pretty nice. The second time was a little bit colder. But I made it all right. I had a good time, too.

“I was always aggravating those nurses about something,” Fred continued. “There ain’t no sense in being sour-faced if you’re in the hospital — just thank the Lord you’re getting the help you’re getting and for the good nurses they have.”

• • •

Fred isn’t sure how he encountered COVID-19. At 82, he’d spent a lot of this year at home.

“I was surprised I had COVID, because I don’t know where I got it. I don’t get out and go many places,” he said.

He advises folks to “stay at home if you’re not going to wear your mask,” he said. “A lot of people think this is funny, I guess. They just get out and run around like nothin’s happened. If I go in a store, I wear my mask; but I don’t go in very much, I stay at home most of the time.”

In the two weeks since he’s been home, Fred either walks with a cane or unassisted. He hasn’t used a walker since leaving the hospital.

“I’m doing a whole lot better than what I was. I thank the Lord for that,” he said.

He’s also thankful for the care he received at Massac Memorial.

“That was the best Christmas I ever got,” he said. “Everyone did such a wonderful job taking care of me. I am just thankful for this hospital; the people here have saved my life. If it wasn’t for the staff here, I wouldn’t have survived.”

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