Timothy Meade knows he is lucky to be alive after his battle with COVID-19.
He doesn’t remember all the details. He heard his youngest of his four daughters crying when the ambulance took him from their home. He woke from a coma, and asked their mother to marry him.
In between, from the middle of July until the middle of August he needs some help filling in the gaps. Fever or COVID has taken his memories.
Meade had put off being vaccinated, and wishes he had got the jab when he had the chance. Now he has permanent health effects.
The whole Meade household contracted COVID. The three girls were hardly impacted. Tim’s wife Chantelle suffered flu-like symptoms and she was barely able to get out of bed. He has a fourth, adult daughter who lives with her own family, and was not infected.
But Tim had it the worst.
“I knew something was really wrong,” he said.
Sick, and with a temperature of 104, they called an ambulance.
He spent three days in Ridge Meadows Hospital, and his symptoms worsened. He was transferred to Surrey Memorial Hospital, and arrived with his heart barely beating.
Meade was put into a coma that would last for three weeks. Doctors tried to bring him out of it, but each time his oxygen levels would drop dangerously low.
He couldn’t move his arms or legs, and doctors found he had no reflexes. A neurologist found a complication Meade suffered was Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) – a rare disorder where the body’s immune system attacks its nerves. He had no strength in his limbs.
When they woke him from a coma and tried to feed him, he couldn’t swallow, and bits of food entered his lungs.
As his condition deteriorated, doctors feared he would die, and twice warned Chantelle to prepare for the worst.
“They said to stay by the phone, because they weren’t sure he was going to pull through the night,” said Chantelle. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through.”
He was strapped to a bed, with a ventilator breathing for him, and remembers nightmares that he had died and gone to hell. He was ready to give up, but the machine kept him breathing.
Somehow he pulled through, and the first time he talked with Chantelle on facetime, he asked her to marry him.
“I want things set right in my life,” he said.
Tim’s father David is a pastor, and in October he will marry his son and Chantelle in a backyard wedding.
Tim needed to get out of the hospital, feeling he would do better at home, and the family bought a wheelchair and other medical supplies, and hired a nurse, so he could return home. They soon found they also needed a prescription for oxygen.
The ordeal left him with diabetes, and he now must take insulin. He also has numbness in his arm, along his scalp, and elsewhere that the GBS left his nerves damaged.
He lost 50 pounds, including a lot of muscle, and until recently was in a wheelchair.
“It basically kicked the crap out of me,” he said. “It’s a miracle I’m living.”
Still he wants to go back to his job with a sign installation company, but his doctor insists he not go back until October.
He can walk around, can taste food again, and can hug his children.
Tim recently saw a report about another father who battled COVID for months, but didn’t make it. That’s why he wanted to share his story – a 46-year-old father who had a brush with death.
“This could happen to anybody,” he said. “It’s killing people, and people are fighting for their lives.”
“I almost died. A miracle happened and I lived through it. I have three little girls I would have left behind. I wanted to give a message out, because I was unsure about being vaccinated, but almost lost my life.”
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