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'I was scared' | San Diego couple thanks UCSD nurse, staff for helping them through coronavirus recovery

A UC San Diego Health nurse stepped in and knew exactly when it was time to call for help.

SAN DIEGO — Joe and Helen Davis headed to Detroit in early March to help Helen’s mother travel to multiple doctors appointments. 

“My mother has heart problems and an ongoing infection,” Helen said. “[It] could mean death for her, really.”

When they left San Diego, COVID-19 wasn’t really a concern. 

“The COVID thing was just talking about it a little bit,” Helen said. “We didn't really have any cases and all of that.”

But a few days after returning home, Joe started experiencing flu-like systems. After a COVID-19 test confirmed he had the virus, Joe continued to recover at home with a nurse at UC San Diego Health monitoring his progress through regular phone calls. Unfortunately, his symptoms got a lot worse.

“I had a headache,” Joe said. “I began to feel shortness of breath. No matter how many Tylenol or ibuprofen I took, it didn't seem to help.” 

On March 24, Nurse Amy Markley from UCSD called Joe for a routine check-in, but she quickly realized that his condition was anything but routine.

“I am so happy that I called when I did,” said Nurse Markley. “I could kind of tell as he was talking to me, he could not complete a full sentence. You could just tell on the phone he could not catch his breath.”

Markley told Joe to hang up the phone and call for an ambulance. 

“It scared me because I never had someone call me and tell me I needed to call 911," said Joe. 

Joe was rushed to UCSD where he was eventually placed on a ventilator. Because of his age and preexisting health issues, he feared he wasn't going to leave there alive. 

“I was scared and I really thought that this might be it," said Joe. 

Helen shared a similar concern. 

“We went to Michigan and we probably saved my mother's life, and now my husband is in the hospital fighting for his life and I said, ‘Oh God, please save him’," said Helen.

While all of this was happening, Helen started experiencing COVID-19 symptoms too. 

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“I woke up and took the dog out and for some reason, all of a sudden, my head got so hot and thought it was on fire and I felt so lethargic. I could barely move," said Helen.

Helen was rushed to UCSD where she was treated and released the same day. With her daughter’s help, she recovered at home.

“She has been so helpful,” Helen said. “I cannot say enough. I just praise God for her. She has been incredible.”

Joe lost 30 pounds in the hospital, but after 17 days, recovered to the point where he could come home.

 “Came home on Good Friday,” Joe said. “Best Friday I've had in a long time.”

The Davis' agreed to share their story to thank UCSD for their support and amazing care. They also want to encourage others with COVID-19 to stay positive. 

“Just because you get COVID, it doesn't mean you're going to die or be left lamed,” said Helen. “We're fine and we're coming through this just fine.” 

“Absolutely,” added Joe with a smile.

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