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His Covid Story – Part II
Brett Breslow is home, and sharing what happened

In our May issue, we shared the story of Brett Breslow – as told by his wife Amy. At the time, Brett was in a coma at Cooper University Hospital, and no one knew if he would recover. Amy told an emotional story of devotion, strength and hope.

After 3 months, Brett is now home with his family in Cherry Hill. We spoke with him on video about his illness and incredible recovery. This is an excerpt from that interview. (You can watch the complete video interview on our Facebook page.)


 

I didn’t fully understand what was happening until a few days after I woke up.

The week of March 20th, the news was of nothing but this pandemic approaching the United States. I thought it was something that was going to happen in the world, but no way in a million years was it going to affect me, or anyone in my family, or anyone that I knew.

Then I started feeling sick.

I did something I normally don’t do: I took time off work. I hadn’t really called out for being sick before, but this was just to be safe. In hindsight, it was a really good decision.

Brett Breslow was intubated at Cooper Hospital in March. He woke up 19 days later.

I got progressively worse throughout the week. Amy dragged me to Urgent Care, but they didn’t have any Covid tests, so they tested me for the flu instead. When that came back negative, they told me to contact my doctor.

All the while, I was still getting worse. I didn’t know what to do. I started sleeping in a spare bedroom to keep from spreading my symptoms.

When I was finally able to get tested at Cooper’s drive-through center, they told me it would be a few days before I got the results, but apparently they called me that night. I don’t remember the call – my oxygen levels were so low by this time I wasn’t making any sense on the phone. They immediately called Amy, who was in another part of the house, and told her she needed to get me to the hospital right away.

I remember walking into the ER. I said, “I’m sorry, I need a wheelchair. I feel like I’m going to collapse.” What felt like five minutes later, they intubated me. I woke up 19 days later to discover that the world had changed, and I had been really, really sick and almost didn’t make it.

It took me a few days to understand what was happening. I had been heavily medicated on morphine and had a lot of other medications in my system. My kidney failure didn’t help filter any of those medications out. Waking up in a negative pressure room and seeing the news and all the stories – it took me a long time to process what had transpired while I was out. I’m still processing some of it, to be honest.

But what I learned wasn’t all bad. I’m in awe of it all – awe of the support from my wife, my kids, this community in South Jersey and really all around the world. In those 19 days that I was on a ventilator, my wife went to battle for me. People who have heard my story have reached out to me to tell me they were praying for me, that they donated plasma or got involved with the American Red Cross.

I think before this, the thought of a 50-year-old, young, healthy guy getting Covid was unimaginable. I think the world thought this would just affect older people and people with pre-existing conditions. But when people read my story, my battle resonated with them. They realized it could happen to anybody.

“I’m used to being very active and in the gym a few days a week, so it’s been hard to have that stripped from me.”

The weirdest part was waking up and seeing this divide in our nation right now. There’s one group of people who are really listening and are afraid of what this disease might do to them, their community or our country. Then there’s another piece that thinks it’s all a farce, that it’s made up as some sort of political stunt. And that’s scary.

I’m a fighter, and I just went through the battle of my life. I know better than anyone that if people don’t take this seriously, we’re going to have to deal with the ramifications of that.

Today, I’m feeling pretty good. I just got a call from my nephrologist that my dialysis days are done, and I can have this port removed from my chest. That leaves me on a high note. I still have some physical ailments – something called a drop foot, which affects the way I walk and leaves me unable to drive. I have some blood pressure issues from the different medications that I’m trying to wean myself off of. I started physical therapy to regain some of my stamina – things like standing for a long period of time or going on a long walk leave me winded pretty quickly.

I’m used to being very active and in the gym a few days a week, so it’s been hard to have that stripped from me. But I feel like I’m rebuilding, and I’m excited about that. I’m also a little nervous and taking my time so I don’t have any setbacks. This is a debilitating thing to come back from, and I’m taking it one step at a time.

 

Click here to watch our full interview with Brett and Amy Breslow.

July 2020
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