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COVID Reality: Road to Recovery

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:23 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Michiana saw a peak in Covid-19 hospitalizations in November, December and January. Now, months and weeks later, some of those patients are still struggling to fully recover.

Others are bouncing back, but with vivid memories of their difficult fight. Including Jammie Bosstel of South Bend. WNDU first shared his story in November, more than a month into his difficult battle with Covid-19.

In November, Bosstel shared a Facebook live video from his ICU bed at St. Joseph Health System. It was a heartfelt message urging people to take the Coronavirus seriously.

“I just wanted you people see this this is real. This is real. This ain’t no hoax. There’s no politics. This (expletive)’s real,” Bosstel shared in his video.

It was hard to believe, someone so young and fit was fighting to live. Bosstel was 49, a rock musician and local factory worker in good health. He didn’t smoke and had no underlying health conditions. And yet, he could barely breathe.

After 22 days in the hospital, Bosstel finally went home on oxygen.

“There was a time when I didn’t think I was going to get off the oxygen,” said Bosstel. “It was really scary.”

More than four months after he first contracted Covid-19, Bosstel is almost back to normal. He admits he still gets winded.

“Yeah, a little bit,” said Bosstel. “Not as bad. It’s week by week, you know.”

In addition to the daily oxygen, Bosstel had physical therapy at his home two times a week for two months. That was a big help, but his best exercise was motivated by music.

“Music has always been my therapy,” said Bosstel.

Two weeks after getting released from the hospital, the music pulled him in into his home studio.

“I had a track in here that I needed to finish. I’m like, I’m going to see if I can do this,” said Bosstel. “And it was tough. I was singing like, one line at a time. But I did it and that inspired me to go, ‘Ok, I’m going to be all right’.”

About a month later, his bandmates from Praise the Fallen came over to start rehearsing music again.

“The last year has probably been one of the most stressful years for any of us that we’ve gone through in our lives,” said Praise the Fallen drummer Kenneth Jones, Jr. “And like every other part in my life, music always carries you through, and that’s what carried us through this.”

“I mean, as long as he’s still breathing, we’re still doing this,” said Praise the Fallen bass guitarist Steven Moore. “I mean, I was just pulling for him at that point.”

Also pulling for him, is his primary care physician, Dr. Justin Leugers of the St. Joseph Health System.

“He’s doing great. I’ve been really impressed with how well he has done,” said Dr. Leugers. “He’s really on the way. He’s still got some milestones to reach but he’s doing great.

Dr. Leugers sees a number of Covid-19 patients in the recovery phase.

“One of the things that really caught me off guard after taking care of patients after they came out of the hospital with Covid was just how many of them dealt with problems with really severe anxieties,” said Dr. Leugers. “It seemed to me that it has come kind of as a result of feeling that really almost fearsome sense of hypoxia- the sense of drowning while you’re breathing.”

Bosstel is familiar with that sensation.

“I cried. I had breakdowns. I was a mess,” said Bosstel. “Because you feel like you’re reaching to breathe.”

“They did give me medication. If anyone knows me out there, I’m very stubborn, where I’m like, I didn’t want to be on that,” said Bosstel. “But I listened to their advice and they told me to take it, so I took it.”

In February, Bosstel went back full time at his factory job. He wears a mask at work and in public, and he’s eager to get the vaccination.

Most importantly, he remains positive. The virus that nearly killed him, taught him a lesson.

“I don’t wish this upon anybody. But at the same time, if you’ve been through what I’ve been through, you learn to be grateful and life is beautiful,” said Bosstel.

Dr. Leugers says we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of what medical experts are discussing as “long covid syndrome” or “long-haulers”- the Covid survivors who struggle with symptoms long after their diagnosis.

The Cleveland Clinic says the most common lingering symptoms are: fatigue, shortness of breath or cough. But patients can also have neurological symptoms like brain fog, depression and insomnia. More severe cases indicate long term damage to vital organs like the heart, lungs and kidneys. Recovering Covid patients are urged to share any lingering symptoms with their healthcare provider.

For more information on Jammie Bosstel’s music or to see Praise the Fallen perform, click here.

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