It was back in November. Rick Shaffer walked out to his mailbox and felt a little out of breath. Didn't think much of it at the time, maybe a little rest and things will be fine. Pretty safe assumption for the average 61 year old. He rested, and unfortunately things didn't really improve and he was off for the dreaded COVID test like so many others. The test led to a hospitalization, which led to a ventilator, which led to a couple of months of the story playing out for Rick like we've all seen time and time again on our nightly news, on our social media, among our friends as we talk and in the back of all of our minds.
As things were in the decline stage of the virus for Rick and the Dr. told him that he would in fact have to be on the vent, reality really set in. Rick made his peace with God and was thankful for what time he had here and the blessing he had. A pretty understandable mindset. Then came the induced coma, the vent and the work to get the virus to pass. What Rick didn't know? Anything really? He was awake once to be asked if he knew where he was to answer "Norton Shores Michigan" and found the reply - "Where's Norton Shores?" Rick had been moved to a specialty hospital in Pontiac. The fight continued until the virus had run it course, then the work began.
Part of all of this? The temporary paralysis that's needed to effectively help some survive on a ventilator, well, things quit working. Once the virus is gone, the work starts to get arms and legs moving, fingers and toes to quit shaking and of course there's the lungs. They are still a work in progress for Rick, but...he says with a bit of a chuckle, that in the physical rehab they "made him do things he didn't do before he got there" all to get him back up on his feet.
Today....was a victory. Make no mistake. To be invited to such an incredibly intimate family moment for the Shaffer's who were surrounded by the staff who help them get through all of this, it's a high honor for us. As Rick WALKED right out the door at Mercy Health Muskegon to tears, cheers and plenty of hugs, he was kind enough to give us a couple minutes to talk about the entire experience and Dr. Heather LaClair was right by his side, as she and so many others from Mercy Health have been when he first ran out of breath. Take a listen to this remarkable story.
This is where science and miracles meet. It's not often you get to leave a quick shoot with a heart filled with grattitude, and yes, maybe even a lump in your throat for the chance to be a part of a remarkably intimate family moment like this. Even though we'd never met, Rick and his family will forever leave an impression on my heart and the good people at Mercy Health and all the health care providers Rick met along the way....today, they get to stand tall because in a time where they have felt so much personal loss, that's no fault of their own....today, they won one for a good guy. That's a cause for celebration any day.