In early July, Gary Yee, PharmD, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs and leader of the Office of Faculty Affairs, was hiking in Glacier National Park in Montana with his wife, Esther. He climbed mountains, marveled at vistas. He felt strong.
He filled his lungs with crisp, pristine air.
|Gary Yee, PharmD, and his wife, Esther, at Glacier National Park in Montana.|
In late July, he started to have some general flulike symptoms. Some fever, chills, myalgias. "I felt like I was getting a cold," Dr. Yee said.
He powered through it, handled it at home. But it didn't get better. Finally, he got a COVID-19 test. Negative. "I was relieved," Dr. Yee said. But he still didn't get better. A few days later, he got tested again.
It came back positive.
He was sick, but managing OK. But, by the end of the week, he was worse. Short of breath. He consulted his primary care physician, Mike Sitorius, MD. Dr. Yee's oxygen levels started to drop.
He was admitted into the hospital on July 31.
If you didn't previously know anyone who has had a really bad case of COVID-19 -- now you do.
He was discharged Sept. 1.
Today, Dr. Yee still has difficulty breathing. You can hear it when he speaks.
"My recovery at home has been mostly about getting stronger," he said. He exercises every day, has a physical therapist come in. He tries to eat everything he can, to get back some of the 35 pounds he lost.
He's grateful that he was healthy, in good shape, when COVID-19 hit him.
Eventually, in the hospital, he was moved to the ICU. His lungs needed high-dose oxygen therapy. He spent time on a CPAP machine.
About a week in, he had trouble breathing in the middle of the night. He remembers it, the nurse saying if the CPAP doesn't work, he would have to go on a ventilator. It was scary.
"Just gasping for air is one of the worst feelings I think one can have," he said. The sensation was almost like drowning.
Thankfully, he avoided the ventilator.
Now, he's out of danger. He's home. But, "It's just taking time," Dr. Yee said.
He said: "I'm generally an optimistic person. I understand what happened. I have a really supportive spouse and family. A whole group of friends." His faith, his church. His UNMC family, who have covered his responsibilities so he doesn't push himself to do more than he can do.
Yes, you see all these people with mild, or even asymptomatic cases. Dr. Yee sees that too.
"And here I am," he said, "with a very different course."
What would he tell people?
"Take it seriously because you don't know how this disease is going to affect you. You don't know if you are going to be the one to experience a more serious course.
"It's an unpredictable virus," Dr. Yee said.
Hope each day you become stronger. Take care.
Praying for your recovery Uncle Gary. - Josh L.
Thank you for sharing your personal story. Best wishes for a speedy and full recovery.
Thank you for sharing your story, Dr. Yee.
Hope you make a complete recovery, Gary. Hang in there. Hope your story will make everyone take the virus more seriously.
We prayed for you. We are relatives of Elise and Lee Pavelka. God bless. Mickie and Don Deline
Thank you for sharing your experience and a great message of caution Dr. Yee. Wishing you a quick recovery.
Thank you for sharing your story, Dr. Yee. I am so glad to know you are continuing to feel better, and hope you are feeling 100 percent, soon!
Best wishes for a full recovery. All the best!
Glad to hear you are feeling better Dr. Yee. Thank you for your continued support, even while in the hospital :)
Glad you are on the mend, Dr. Yee. Keep stong!
Dr. Yee, I am so glad you are recovering. We have been rooting for you!
I'm a good friend of Esther and saw the progress of Dr. Yee's slow recovery first hand. Their faith is genuine and encouraging. Recovery is a team effort. We watch on the sideline and continue to pray, Gary.
Glad to read that you are on the road to recovery. Sorry you had to go through all of that. Looking forward to your possible return to the SRC. Carol Russell
Thank you for sharing your experience. My best wishes for your continued recovery.
Wishing you a full recovery, Dr. Yee. I am hopeful your story will continue to remind others to take this virus seriously.
So glad you are on the road to recovery, Dr. Yee!
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I hope this will help others to see how devastating the disease can be. Prayers with you and your family.
Best wishes for a complete recovery. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Dr. Yee. Sending you continued well wishes for a full recovery at home.
Thanks for your courage and for sharing your story Gary! All of UNMC is rooting for you to have a full recovery.