In what he calls “one of the most interesting endurance battles” of his life, Luling native Jarvis Lewis is home resting from weeks of sickness and a four-day hospital stay due to coronavirus.
“I’ve been able to trace the symptoms back to around March 20,” the former St. Charles Parish councilman said this week. “It began with some headaches.”
Headaches are common for Lewis, so he initially overlooked them. When they lasted multiple days, however, Lewis called his primary care physician. Because of high pollen counts and the location of the headaches, Lewis received a sinus-related diagnosis and medication.
When symptoms became unbearable and breathing had become complicated on March 23, Lewis drove himself to a coronavirus testing site. With his car’s air conditioner set to 69 degree, Lewis said he started to sweat profusely on the ride to the site. When the person administering the test took Lewis’ temperature, it clocked in at 102.
His symptoms progressed all week. Lewis made additional telemed visits with nurses and doctors, all the while awaiting his official diagnosis from the testing site.
“The doctor told me it would blow over.”
On March 26, Lewis went to get a chest x-ray at the urging of his primary care practitioner. Because the x-ray site and his doctor are different health networks, getting the x-ray’s results to his doctor became an issue. As his symptoms continued to worsen, Lewis talked to an ER doctor who was able view the x-ray.
The x-ray was clear.
“The doctor told me it would blow over,” Lewis said of his persistent symptoms.
As he continued to reach out for help, Lewis talked to another doctor who urged him to go to a hospital.
“He said not to wait through the night,” Lewis said. “I live on the fifth floor of my apartment building and the elevator was out so I was nervous to have to take the stairs … I had to walk up the stairs earlier that day and it was torture … it almost took me out.”
By the time he made it into the hospital, Lewis said he couldn’t breathe at all. His oxygen levels registered so low the nurses wouldn’t let him walk to the bathroom.
Another x-ray and a CT scan were ordered at the emergency room, and results were completely different from the one taken 24 hours before.
“Every doctor that I spoke to was comfortable to say the symptoms I was having was related to the virus,” Lewis said. “They had seen enough to look at the x-ray and CT scan and say it was coronavirus.”
“We can’t let you go home like this.”
Lewis said the team of three doctors immediately devised a treatment plan for his symptoms.
“They created a level of comfort that made it easy to take their recommendations blindly,” Lewis said. “They told me, ‘We can’t let you go home like this’ and I told them I wouldn’t argue.”
By the morning of March 28, Lewis was in a hospital room. Although he was not able to have visitors at the hospital, he had regular communication with family and friends the entire time.
“At this point I had been locked in an apartment because I had been feeling bad and I didn’t want to put anyone at risk,” he said. “So I was used to being alone.”
“I wanted people to see it was me.”
Lewis said Touro’s nursing staff and doctors did everything they could to make sure he was comfortable during his four day stay.
“I’ve been reminded of the power of positive thinking and the importance of keeping the faith,” Lewis said. “When people found out I was in the hospital I got a ton of calls, text and social media messages.”
Lewis tried his best to respond to the inquiries with photos.
“I wanted people to see it was me,” he said. “I was alert and I was going to fight no matter what happened and I wanted people to see that I was smiling and know it was genuine.”
Lewis was able to avoid vent use during his hospitalization. He was told to quarantine at home until he went seven days without a symptom, and then to use a mask for 14 days after that if he did need to go out.
Lewis rested at home for five days after his hospital stay before the result of his coronavirus test was ready. He laughed when he said the positive test result wasn’t surprising.
“I promised God I’d tell folks this is beatable,” Lewis said. “I’ve got no symptoms other than this cough that I can’t shake.”