Lindsay’s Story

An early COVID survivor beats the odds

Lindsay Orr had been sick for weeks and was prescribed powerful antibiotics that his doctor believed would knock out a suspected routine respiratory infection.

Four days later, the 68-year-old walked a short distance to the bathroom and collapsed in exhaustion. His wife, Peggy helped him back to the bedroom. As Lindsay lay on the bed, sweating, confused and feverish, she used a device to measure his oxygen levels. They were critically low and she dialed 911.

The crew arrived in astronaut-style hazmat suits. “It was scary to see,” said Peggy. “That was the first time we had ever seen anything like that.”

At the ER, Lindsay tested positive for COVID-19 and rapidly declined. He fell into respiratory and kidney failure, and was placed on a ventilator and dialysis. He also had a heart attack, but was revived.

Slowly, the disease loosened its grip on Lindsay. He was taken off the ventilator and received a high flow tube of oxygen at his nose.  
By May, he stabilized enough for Peggy to consider the next step in recovery. She chose Select Specialty Hospital – Cincinnati for its experience caring for medically complex patients. Lindsay’s goal was to wean off the high-flow oxygen and regain strength through therapy.

Five days later, Lindsay’s heart stopped. He was revived and quickly sent to the intensive care unit within our host hospital. By mid-May, Lindsay returned, more determined than ever to get well and back home.

A physician-led team, including therapists and nurses, created a plan to get Lindsay there.

Physical and occupational therapy began our mobility program. Each day, he worked on making small movements – sitting up in bed, at its edge and moving into a chair – it added up to significant progress. He gained enough strength to stand and walk with minimal assistance from a physical therapist.

Lindsay’s ‘a-ha’ moment arrived when he left his room and walked down the hall. It meant he was finally getting well.

Respiratory therapists started a regimen of deep breathing and chest exercises to enhance stamina and lung capacity. Lindsay’s supplemental oxygen requirement dropped from 15 to three liters, delivered by a small tube at his nose.

Nurses kept him comfortable, encouraged him to keep up with his therapeutic exercises and repositioned him to avoid skin breakdown.

By June, Lindsay met all his goals and was ready for the next phase of his healing journey. He departed for an inpatient rehabilitation hospital, where he will continue building strength and skills in daily living activities so he can return home to Peggy.