Al and Gin Gray have always loved to dance. They have been frequently seen shuffling along the dance floor in Quihi as recently as last year. When the pandemic hit, Al and Gin had to become homebodies like many other at-risk people to keep from catching the horrific illness. Al has been taking care of his cows, planting trees and putting beautiful things in their yard for Gin.
The only thing that ever seemed to slow Al down was catching COVID-19.
Both Al and Gin tested positive for the virus on November 24th, and their doctor gave them a steroid shot, prescribed them high doses of Vitamin C and D, then sent them home to quarantine. We ordered a pulse oximeter to make sure their oxygen levels stayed above 90. For six days, they both felt well and had good readings and minimal symptoms.
On the seventh day, Al started to feel like his chest was heavy. He had shortness of breath and very erratic readings. His symptoms started to escalate quickly, so we all decided it was time to call the ambulance.
When the EMTs showed up, they wore a complete suit with face masks, face shields, shoe covers, and hazmat suits. We were all told to stay 20 feet away and our hearts were breaking! All we wanted to do was run to Al and Gin, to hug Al goodbye and hold Gin to comfort her. It rips your insides out watching them take your loved one away not knowing if you will ever see them again! We were completely helpless. Never have I felt that way before, especially concerning my parents.
As we waved goodbye and told Al we all loved him, he waved back and told us he loved us too from inside the ambulance.
Al was then taken to SAMC. After testing, it was determined he had COVID pneumonia. The doctor said his lungs are very sick! They put him on Remdisivir, steroids and Bi-Pap machine to help him breath. He also had developed heart arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeats. The most terrible thing about this experience has been knowing that any moment could be his last breath and that he is alone with no family member there to hold his hand or cry with him! We are also at the mercy of the doctors and nurses to call and feed you information, and they are already exhausted and over-worked from taking on thousands of patients, basically going through the motions.
Gin has been all by herself in their house since Al has been fighting for his life in the hospital. We give her all the help we can by taking her groceries and food and anything else she needs. We set the items on the patio, knock on her door so she knows to come out to get them, and then turn and back away to keep our distance so the virus doesn’t spread to other at-risk family members. It has been a blessing really because at least we get to see her and talk to her from a distance when so many others are totally isolated and even dying alone. So, when I hear the insensitivity from people that haven’t lived it, I ask, “Where is your compassion? What happened to caring for your neighbor?”
Al served his country in both the Army and Air Force, is a devout Catholic who never misses church, loves his family and always tells them he loves them.
The virus does not care about your religion or your race or your political preference. It will kill somebody and then not affect someone else at all. It’s like playing Russian roulette! Take the time to mask up because it’s not about you, it’s about protecting the ones you love, your mom, dad, grandparents, or someone with a compromised immune system that has cancer or diabetes. Al wore his mask when going to the stores or church, but someone else did not and has put him in a very critical position.
After not getting the results we were hoping for, we contacted Dr. Neel, even though he is not Al and Gin’s primary care doctor. Dr. Neel called us back within an hour to let us know that he called SAMC and spoke with Al’s doctor. He took the time to tell them about the melatonin studies going on around the world and the success that it has had. The doctors seemed interested in it and were going to do some research on it.
At this point, the doctors told us that if he didn’t show improvement by Sunday, they didn’t know what else they could do for him. We begged the doctors to try the high dose melatonin, but instead they said they had used another drug which they said has many of the benefits of melatonin. I believe they started that Wednesday.
(We believe that medicine was Ramelteon (Rozerem) a highly selective melatonin receptor type 1 and type 2 agonist, 1, 2 unlike nonprescription melatonin, which is nonselective for all three melatonin receptors.)
As of this Sunday, 12/13/2020, after 11 days in the ICU not able to breathe without 100% oxygen, he has FINALLY started turning a corner! The X-Rays show his lungs are starting to clear, and he is showing improvement as they try to wean him off of the ventilator!
We want to thank everyone for all the prayers and support and especially all those who have reached out because it has truly meant so much. Hopefully soon, Al will come home and be able to say he beat this “COTTON PICKIN” virus!
We hope our story and photo shows the reality of this virus, taking their dad, their pawpaw, their husband away not knowing if we will ever see him again. Don’t let this happen to your family, do everything you can to prevent it! Have No Regrets!
Submitted by the family of Al and Gin Gray