For John, it all started with a party. Just before Father's Day, his family was preparing a dinner celebration, and his then 20-year-old son, Nick, met with some of his friends. With much of the news emphasizing the low rate of infection among those under 60 years of age, the young man, tired of his confinement and confident that his family of 6, all under the age of 42, were safe. Wearing masks among trusted friends did not seem necessary. Then Nick got sick. Not terribly ill, but enough to convince himself that he may have made a mistake. He was scared and sorry, and after a short time of denial and then presented with proof of an infected friend, Nick admitted his condition to his family. All five of his family members tested positive for COVID. The next Tuesday, John was admitted to Westside Regional Medical Center and soon he was on a ventilator and in a coma for 20 days. Michelle, his wife, and children Kaylin, Nick, Jaden, and Cyan recovered quickly at home.
The dedicated staff of caregivers at Westside administered therapies that required turning John over several times a day to assist his breathing, giving him doses of Remdesivir and plasma, and monitoring his red blood count and sugar levels, because now John became one of those cases with underlying conditions: overweight with diabetes. There were three times that Michelle, his wife, was informed that the drop in his red blood cells was so profound that there was little hope for his survival. Yet, Michelle, mirroring the positive spirit of John, continued to fight for John, and in a powerful, video message to the world, made people understand the real and personal effect of the pandemic, and warned that no one who chooses to ignore the simple precautions of social distancing and wearing a mask is beyond experiencing its devastating effects.
While Ashley Berlin, a close family friend, kept friends, family and all caring people appraised of John’s progress through Facebook during 20 dismal days, Michelle continued her crusade through all media to generate social awareness with moving interviews. Even Nick, overcoming his natural shyness, gave a powerful interview on Howard Stern to encourage young people to seriously consider how their actions can affect an entire family.
On July 20 all followers of John’s journey were thrilled to hear his first words, “I’m alive, I’m alive,” proving the power of all the prayers sent to him from all over the world.