A man from Mitchell, Man. is recovering at home in his battle from COVID-19, only a few weeks after his family said their goodbyes to him in hospital.
On October 21st, Vern Neufeld tested positive for COVID-19. Vern had been feeling sick for a couple of days prior to receiving the results, but his wife Christina says it was on the 21st when she began to notice some very troubling symptoms.
"He was already very confused, he wasn't making sense and so his oxygen levels must have been really low," she recalls. "That got me really scared of course, so I called 911."
Christina says an ambulance took him straight to Bethesda Regional Health Centre in Steinbach where they immediately placed him in a medically induced coma and intubated him.
He was eventually transferred to hospital in Brandon, while his family self-isolated in their home.
Christina says for the first few days, Vern was doing alright. But, by the next week, she started to get bad news every day she called the hospital. Christina says it was scary being so far away from her husband and not being able to see him herself.
By October 30th, Christina was told by his doctor that the next 24 hours would be critical and that there was a chance her husband would not survive the weekend. If it reached that point, for compassionate reasons her family would be allowed to see him one last time.
"Based on that, my family went to Brandon, and Sunday morning we got that call that we were supposed to head to the hospital to come say goodbye," remembers Christina.
Christina and her daughters were led to Vern's room, where a glass wall separated them from their husband and father. Using a phone, they prayed with him, sang for him and did the unthinkable, they said goodbye.
"It was a very emotional day," she says.
"I keep saying she has the faith of a lion grounded on just the biggest rock of Christ that you can just imagine."
Christina says though the medical professionals thought the end was near for Vern, God had a different plan and with the help of prayer warriors from around the world, Vern's condition took a turn for the better.
Vern, who was in a coma for just over two weeks, was eventually transferred by air to Winnipeg. He says it was during that flight that he began walking up.
"I don't remember anything during the time in my coma, I do remember as I was coming out of it, just this complete sense of peace," says Vern. "I remember coming out of the coma the verse from Psalm 23, 'though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you are there with me,' and I just felt carried through that valley and it was just remarkable."
Vern says it typically takes between three and seven days for someone to be able to use their voice again after having a tube removed from their throat. But for him, he started talking the moment it was taken out. And, though he was told to expect to be in hospital for three to four months to recover, Vern was already resting at home two weeks later.
"Any time I talk with medical professionals, they are like, 'you are so far ahead of the curve of where most people are at this point,'" he says. "I've never been one to shy away from hard work and pushing myself and in this case, it's no exception, it's a mix of stubbornness and drive and will to move forward."
Vern says he wants to make it very clear that the medical professionals worked so hard and tirelessly around the clock to help him. He says they were truly doing the work of angels. Vern says he received so much love and care from the workers in the hospital, some of them pulling double shifts while he was under their watch.
Today, Vern continues his rehabilitation at home. A teacher at Green Valley School in Grunthal, he says his goal is to be back at work sometime early in the new year. Vern says there are good days and bad days. On the bad days, he struggles to pull himself out of bed. But, he knows that he will return to a school that is anxiously awaiting a reunion.
"The staff at Green Valley School was in touch and they sent us groceries and so on, expressing their love and their concern for my family during this time," he notes. "Comments that students have left on the updates that we did, so many students that said we're praying for you and we want you to come back and we can't wait to see you again."
Looking back now, Vern says he will forever consider himself blessed, not only that God chose to intervene, but for the love expressed by his wife and daughters.
"To have such an incredibly strong partner. I keep saying she has the faith of a lion grounded on just the biggest rock of Christ that you can just imagine," he says. "And the strength that Christina and my family had to muster up, I can't imagine and I can't begin to be thankful enough for."