Theresa Freed [00:00:00] On this episode, hear from a Johnson County, family of four. Mom, dad and daughters all diagnosed with COVID-19, and they nearly had to say goodbye to one family member forever. Find out how the illness developed, the lasting impacts of the disease and the important message they have for their Johnson County community.
Announcer [00:00:18] Whether you live in or just love Johnson County, Kansas, JoCo on the Go has everything. Johnson County. Here's what's happening and what's coming up in the community you call home.
Theresa Freed [00:00:31] Thanks for joining us for JoCo on the Go. I'm your host Theresa Freed a Johnson County resident and employee of Johnson County Government. Since March, we've been sharing a variety of messages related to COVID-19, the importance of taking safety precautions and stopping the spread. Today you're going to hear from a Johnson County family that contracted the illness. We'll tell you about that battle along with some advice for our listeners. So thank you both for being here today.
Katy Green [00:00:55] Thank you for having us.
Theresa Freed [00:00:56] Well, can you start off just by introducing yourself? Tell us a little bit about who you are and your family.
Katy Green [00:01:01] Sure. I'm Katy Green and this is my husband, Jason Green. We have two daughters. We live in Shawnee, Kansas, and I am a teacher here in the county. And I'll let my husband tell you a bit about himself, too.
Jason Green [00:01:19] Hi, my name's Jason Green. I've lived in Johnson County my entire life. And like my wife was saying we live in Shawnee with our two daughters.
Theresa Freed [00:01:29] All right. Well, nice to meet you both. And again, thank you for for sharing your story with us. Can you tell us a little bit about, you know, from the start what happened? How did you know that you were sick?
Katy Green [00:01:39] Well, first, our two daughters, we have teenagers. They the youngest one, she is 15. She had a fever and she had like a cough and she wasn't horribly sick. But it was on my mind about coronavirus. So, of course, we kept her home from school and just kept an eye on her. She is type one diabetic. So that made us a little bit more hypersensitive to how she was doing. We called her pediatrician and asked right away if we should get a test. And she said there aren't tests in Johnson County right now. And if if she can't breathe. Bring her to a hospital. But she could breathe fine. So we just kind of rode that out it lasted two or three days. And by the third day, she had a horrible rash on her face and they just said, you know, that's very common with any virus. And I had been reading, though, that they had seeing pediatric coronavirus cases with rashes. So I'm like are you sure we shouldn't get a test? And they're like, there's really no tests. And so we never tested her and as soon as she got feeling better. Our older daughter, who's 18, she had a fever and a cough. She never did acquire or develop a rash. But she was sick enough that she she slept a lot and had a little fever and a cough. And it lasted two or three days for her, too. And then the major sickness came when we got it. And we weren't that concerned about all of it because we're not high risk in many ways. We're forty six years old. But speaking for myself, I guess we had a lot going on at the time. We were packing our house, try to get ready for move. And so I noticed I was I was also very into the girls's health at the time and just making sure they were OK. So I probably wasn't paying attention to myself, but I just kept noticing how my back hurts so bad. And it felt like somebody had beat me with a baseball bat. It just was hurting. But I thought I hurt it while was packing boxes and I just kind of marked everything off. I'm so tired. Why can I not get this house packed? But I just kept giving excuses to all of it. And so and then, my husband, I kind of have him tell you about the symptoms. We kind of came down with stuff about same time. So to let him tell you about his. They quickly kind of progressed at the same time as well. So I'll let you explain yours Jay.
Jason Green [00:04:17] Yeah, so our girls really were sick at the beginning, middle of the week. And by the end of the week I felt like I was getting sick and that I think Katy felt the same way. And really, what I recall is having a pretty high temperature. A lot of fatigue. A dry cough. And just it got to the point where I really didn't care to even take care of myself. I felt so poorly and so sick. And so that was, you know, I think on a, maybe a Thursday or Friday. Started getting sick. Saturday had a pretty high temperature.
Katy Green [00:05:04] And we both were running temperatures by then and coughing a lot.
Jason Green [00:05:09] And then just really got to the point where I wanted to go to the hospital. That's how that's unusual for me. I wouldn't normally want to do that. And I packed a bag. And both me and Katie went to the hospital the same day, same time to get evaluated and I think we had by that time had at least ourselves at a somewhat of a high index of suspicion that we might be COVID positive. This was middle to late March. And really was not on people's radars at that time. I felt like we were a little more in tune to it because I was actually working on COVID procedures for my job. So I had some insight into it there. But even when we called the pediatrician, they were not really in tune yet to COVID being on people's radar is the way it is now. So went to the hospital and chest x rays and they ended up letting my wife go. But they said that I looked a little bit worse than she did. My chest X-ray looked quite a bit worse. They believe that I was probably COVID positive they were gonna do a test in the next couple of days. And then they told my wife to presume that she was positive and go home and quarantine or isolate with the girls. Our two daughters, they didn't even let her say goodbye when it was time to go. So they just kind of told her to leave. And then the doctor came in and told me what the plan was.
Katy Green [00:06:58] They did explain. We know this is very strange. You guys rode together to the hospital. And you guys probably both have COVID, but our hospital rules are you can't say goodbye to him. So I just had to leave the hospital and go home and just not say anything from there on, that was the end of in-person until a month later when he got to come home. So that was kind of hard. And then it was probably only two days later. And he was not very coherent for those two days. He'd call us sometimes, but he wasn't doing very well. But he called to say he was going on a ventilator. And and that was a horrible phone call because it was really the phone call to tell everybody goodbye. Just in case. So I was sick laying in bed. The girls were sitting with me on the bed we put it on speakerphone and he told them everything he could tell them for their advice for the rest of their lives and and me and told me the bank account stuff and everything you can think of that you think you might need to share with each other. And so and then from there on, of course, you can't communicate with one another. And he stayed on the ventilator for 18 days. And for those 18 days, he was at Advent Health Shawnee Mission. And they were super nice about letting me call whenever and getting an update. And I know they were very, very busy. And so I would try to limit it to like four times a day, which looking back, is kind of a lot. But that was kind of me limiting myself. But I'd call in the morning and getting an update. I'd call at lunch, dinner and then before bed. And the girls always wanted to find out how Dad was doing. So they would come in and sit with me and get the updates. And some of the updates are really hard to take and to receive but we tried to be honest with the girls or I tried to be honest the girls and always tell them just how how bad it was. It was not looking good. And a couple of times they said themselves that we cannot do anything more for him. And it's not looking good. So it was it was very lucky for us and many, many prayers later. And from many people that he was able to come off of that ventilator. And just once he did, he kind of just turned right around and and he was able to breathe on his own with no oxygen or anything like it, just kind of with the virus was done.
Theresa Freed [00:09:39] Was there a turning point where he I mean, you mentioned that he started to get better. Was there something administered or something done that you feel like really made a difference in your treatment?
Jason Green [00:09:48] I think it was, you know, obviously the care overall of being in the ICU unit and just having folks take care of you when you are unable to take care of yourself. But, you know, at the time, the virus was still new. But even at the time, they were new to treating that virus as well. And I think really it was a matter of the supportive care that I received. And the virus running its course. And my body finally prevailing in fighting that virus off really is what I believe to be the turning point.
Theresa Freed [00:10:24] So what was your homecoming like, being able to get out of there and see your family again?
Jason Green [00:10:30] It was, I guess I would say, bittersweet, you know, overwhelming. It was a very difficult time not seeing my family for over a month. That was difficult. Because I was on a ventilator for 18 days and in the hospital for a month, my physical condition really deteriorated. I wasn't able to stand on my own after I woke up. I wasn't able to walk. When I would talk on my cell phone, it felt like weighed 10 pounds. I didn't have the dexterity in my fingers to be able to text people, so I would just have to call people. So that really took a toll on my body and just not moving for that amount of time while I was on a ventilator. So was hard in my mind to reconcile the fact that I walked into the hospital and I was. Pretty, you know, I was essentially fine. I thought I'd go to the hospital for a couple of days, they give me an I.V. and I'd be out there. I ended up having that experience so it was difficult to reconcile that with waking up and not being able to move, not being able to have the stamina just to sit in a chair, let alone lay in your bed. So those things were difficult to process, but it was also felt really good when I was able to come home. I was kind of a star patient at the hospital. Everybody knew my case because I was in there so long. They gave me a really nice sendoff and had what felt like the entire staff of the hospital come down to lobby and see me off. I went to rehab for four days just and I got just strong enough to where I could survive at home. And then I got other I didn't want to be I couldn't operate the hospital anymore. So I was ready to come home. My wife and girls help me out quite a bit after I came home. And I'm still recovering. I still go to physical therapy. I'm still working on elements of my strength. And I still have some residual effects from my illness, my hospital stay. But overall, the prognosis I think is good. But, a lot of the things we just don't know because it's such a new disease and, you know, there's things are going on in my body that are a little bit strange, but, all in all I'm doing well.
Katy Green [00:13:12] I did go home after being in the emergency room with him and they kept him. And I did stay home for two or three days. And they said, if you can't breathe, come back. And I got a pulse ox and I was monitoring that. And it never did go below 90. But I just I did not have strength. I kept, like, blacking out the minute I'd stand up and I couldn't I was just like, I can't take care of myself. And I've got the girls here and nobody can come here and be with them. And our house probably has the germs from COVID and they may have it or already had it may be contagious, but I decided I just needed to go back to the hospital. So I went back and I had our teenage daughters drop me off at the hospital and they had to stay home alone because of the situation. But so I can tell you, just based on that, I was just getting IVs and stuff. It turned out that I had Influenza A and COVID and so that might be why I was having such a hard time with being dehydrated. But they definitely had the the full gear on with, they look like spacesuits. And it's weird because you're already kind of, I mean I totally get it. I get why they're wearing all that. But you're already scared and lonely and you feel kind of like Typhoid Mary already. And and they come in because it's a big deal to get all that on and everything. So they come in what feels like once every two hours. I really don't know exactly what it was, but and they just kind of take your vitals and get out of there. And they're not able to it's just a different interaction than normal. And so you're just, it's a very lonely time in the hospital because nobody can be with you. Nobody probably really wants to be with you. And so I can tell you, that's my impression of when I was there. They were very nice. It's just the nature of it. They have to protect themselves. And and then it only took two or three days of me being there, I felt much better. I started taking Tamiflu. And so that helped. I think I'm just getting hit on both fronts was too much. And so then I came home, but they I'm sure they were wearing the same stuff when treating Jason. He just probably forgot to see it.
Theresa Freed [00:15:40] So do you guys know how you got COVID? Was it from your daughters or somewhere else? Do you know?
Katy Green [00:15:44] Well, that is the million dollar question that everybody asks us. They either tell, they say that or the other thing they always say is, oh, my gosh, you're the first person I have ever met who actually had COIVID. And I'm thinking, oh, I bet you know a lot more people that have it. They just are asymptomatic, but okay. No, we don't exactly know where we got it, because what they're thinking now is it was it was pretty much here in Johnson County well before we ever thought it was. And so we could have picked it up there. There were a lot of kids sick at my daughter's school, her friend group. They could have had the flu because I had both. So I know the flu was going around. So it's hard to say if she got it from school, and then we got it from her. I'm a teacher. I'm around germs all the time. That's probably how I got the flu and COVID came from something else. But but we also did the weekend before. Just go to a national volleyball tournament. Our youngest daughter plays club volleyball. And it was a large tournament in Denver, Colorado. And it was teams from all around California and stuff. And it was already very, very much in those states. And so even though we were very careful because it was on our minds when we were there and they had made some rules like no high fiving at the tournament and stuff like that, I don't know how you would avoid it in a situation like that. There were thousands of people in this big facility. So it could have come from there. It's just hard to say where it came from.
Theresa Freed [00:17:24] So just last question. Any message to our listeners? I know there are some people out there who don't even believe COVID exists, that it's a hoax. And some people believe that masks are not effective. So what message do you have for them?
Jason Green [00:17:38] Well, it's it's affected our life a great deal. You know, I almost died twice while I was in the hospital. And I'll just be frank and honest. I don't have much time for people that don't want to take this seriously and they don't care enough to wear a mask for other people. The idea of mask-wearing really is for the other person. You know, it reduces transmission of the disease in studies that they've done by up to 85 percent. So that's a significant reduction. It's not it's not 100 percent effective, but 85 percent is a very high number. And the countries that have handled COVID well are the countries where mask wearing is mandatory and that their populations are wearing masks. And when you live in a society, you need to make tradeoffs to live with other people in a community. And this is really a very simple tradeoff that people can make. In order to slow the spread of this pandemic, to slow the spread of this virus, we need to wear masks and it's, I don't like it, I wish we weren't dealing with a pandemic. We've all already six months in, five months in, we have COVID fatigue. We miss our family members. We miss being able to travel. And we miss we all miss our normal daily lives. But this is too important of an issue not to care about the other person next to you. And we can wear a mask for one another and it will be OK.
Katy Green [00:19:53] Like I said, I'm a teacher in the county and I get a strong sense that people don't want to homeschool their children again. I don't think that works out real well with a bunch of working parents. And teachers don't like doing virtual teaching either. And so if you don't want that, you're going to have to wear the mask. And that's just how that goes. And kids can wear the mask, too, and they should wear masks. There is no reason why kids should be coming to school this fall without masks to keep the teacher safe and to keep one another safe. They're the ones that are probably going to be asymptomatic and running up to their teachers and giving them close contact hugs and stuff like that. And they they need that mask and everybody can do it unless they have, you know, a special need of some kind. And there's always exceptions. But I think kids are gonna handle this in the way their parents model for them. So if you just there's lots of things out there. People can read to their children little short stories about the masks and the importance and what COVID it is. It's a if you model that stuff with your child and you act like it's no big deal and you're doing it for the good of others, they will be proud to wear their mask too.
Theresa Freed [00:21:16] Again, thank you so much for sharing your story today. I'm so happy that you guys are both doing well now. For more information about COVID-19 in Johnson County, visit our Web site at jocogov.org/coronavirus. Thanks for listening.
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