How many of the people that you know, who contracted COVID, are grateful that they got it? I know of no one, other than myself. I contracted COVID-19 and went on an intense and crazy journey. Watch this video interview of my discussion with Drew and Katie Taylor to hear more details.
When I first felt symptoms, I knew I had it. I was working in my classroom (I teach middle and high school Theology at our small-but-mighty Catholic school) late one Friday night. My stomach churned, my body began to ache, and then I started to shiver uncontrollably. I knew it.
“Now what?”, I thought to myself as I sat at my desk convulsing. It came out of nowhere. And I was all alone. Who could see me shaking, or feeling nauseous? Who was there to feel my ever-increasing body temperature? Who was going to validate my symptoms? No one… I was all alone.
Being all alone was one of the strangest sensations during my battle, something I am not used to. Once I was admitted to the hospital, I was all alone. My wife and children couldn’t visit because of COVID restrictions. The priest wasn’t allowed in. Of course, there were nurses, doctors, therapists, and cleaning staff, but they weren’t there “with” me. Thankfully, I had video calling capabilities with my family, but I was so out of breath that most of the calls consisted of me just sitting in silence, staring at the screen. Occasionally, my kids would come to look through the windows of my hospital room.
The choice for me was very clear. I could either fall into a fearful depression, throw my hands up, complain, and quit, or I could realize that I wasn’t alone after all. I chose the second option and began to rely on the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and on the Immaculate Heart of His Most Holy Mother, Mary. Over and over I repeated, “O, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!” I prayed this countless times. Every time I would pray this prayer (which, traditionally is prayed three times in a row), I would follow up with a “Hail, Mary”. This was how I battled.
I unrelentingly believe in God’s grace. I was (Praise God!) in the state of grace when I went into the hospital. Can you imagine the fear and gut-wrenching feeling had I been in the state of mortal sin?! Phew! Lord, have mercy! The fact that I had been living in sacramental grace truly structured my battle-ready approach and ability to fight through everything.
I found myself in a mental space, ready for death, and being okay with it. It was really peaceful. I certainly didn’t want to die, but I was ready if it was His Will. So, during my battle, what I feel most privileged about was the fact that I wasn’t in any pain. I couldn’t breathe, but I wasn’t in pain. Most people who struggled through a 33-day COVID battle (25 days in the ICU) had it much worse than I did. I prayed fervently for them, especially those who literally were all alone. At one point, the man across the hall from me, most likely in his 80’s, was in a medically induced coma. When he finally came out of it, although still intubated, he never received a single phone call, a video message, or (obviously) any visitors. My heart hurt for him, and others like him.
How God Worked
Through it all, God proved again and again that He had my back! I was eventually transferred (via “flight for life” – crazy, I know!) to a Catholic hospital, received an anointing, and Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist! (Thanks Fr. Ben!) God walked this journey with me and did so much to my heart that I am forever changed. I feel so united to Jesus’ Heart that I sincerely fear nothing.
I was able to share my story through an unexpected Instagram Story that made its way all around the world (thank you to everyone who prayed for me!). Through this mini-viral clip, I heard from hundreds and hundreds of people that it positively impacted. They saw my faith during such an impossible time. I was blessed to be capable of demonstrating to them what trust and surrender really mean. I take absolutely zero credit for this! God provided.
Wrap It Up, Dave!
As I continue to recover (I’m what they call a “COVID long-hauler and have a long road ahead), my life is pretty different. Physically, I’m different. I get extreme exhaustion, am consistently out of breath, have experienced weight gain and metabolic changes, and most of the time, I feel pretty lousy.
None of that stops me. I can’t stop telling people about the most important thing in life… the Sacred Heart of Jesus. His Heart IS the Eucharist. His Heart IS life. His Heart IS the font of Divine Mercy. “O, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in Thee!”