Jude Montet narrowly avoided having his arm amputated in 1987 when cancer gripped his tricep, but he was very clear when comparing that experience with his recent coronavirus battle.
“I’ll take that over what I had last month,” Monet said. “I’m not exaggerating … it was bad.”
Montet, a Luling resident, said what started March 23 as a dry cough progressed all week to the point of a 102.9 fever March 27. Other symptoms included chest pain, a severe headache, weakness and shortness of breath.
“I couldn’t walk from my bed to the bathroom without losing my breath,” he said. “This is not like the flu.”
Montet’s wife Rhonda drove him to Ochsner’s Main Campus Hospital March 27, where he was tested for coronavirus and subsequently admitted to the hospital.
“My wife stopped at the curb and dropped me off,” Montet said. “She was waiting in the parking lot and tried to come in to check on me, but the security guard stopped her.”
Diagnosed with coronavirus and pneumonia, Montet entered the hospital with only a 40% battery life on his phone and no charger.
“I lost contact with the world,” he said, adding the nurses and doctors did a great job of calling Rhonda with updates. “Luckily my cousin’s wife works there and brought me a charger.”
Montet said to see her bring in the charger, in a fully enclosed and encapsulated suit, was a punch to the gut.
“I lost it then,” he said. “It was bad.”
Confined to a 10×10 cubicle with no television and no visitors, Montet said the hardest part of the hospital stay was trying to stay mentally strong while being so physically sick and exhausted.
“You’re sick and gasping for air and there’s no one that can be with you and answer questions for you,” he said. “I don’t wish it on my worst enemy.”
Montet spent one night in the hospital before requesting a discharge, figuring he would be more comfortable resting at home. He was given antibiotics and an inhaler and was told to take Tylenol.
Upon his diagnosis, Montet said he was tormented with worry about his family – especially his grandchildren who he had recently spent time with – getting sick. So far, everyone remains healthy.
After a week of rest at home, Montet said he finally felt well enough to walk around and even venture onto his patio. The lack of contact and comradery with his family and friends is hard, Montet said, but he’s learned important lessons throughout this trying time of his life.
“Life is a precious gift,” he said. “Just like that it could have been taken away from me.”