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”I went to sleep in the summer and woke up in the fall,” said Shaun Carroll. He is shown here, at center, with wife Christina and brother Cliff Davis, at this Central City home.

Shaun Carroll has a harrowing tale to tell. The 47-year-old Central City man was vacationing in Florida in July when he started to feel sick. He was diagnosed with covid-19, the beginning of months of treatments and rehabilitation ending when he returned home on Oct. 2.

Carroll said he made the 13-hour drive home from their Florida vacation, feeling an indescribable sickness. A few days later, Carroll would be admitted to the hospital with severe symptoms of covid-19, and begin a 12-week journey back to wellness.

“He went by ambulance,” said Carroll’s brother, Cliff Davis. Carroll’s wife, Christina, followed the ambulance and called Davis, telling him he needed to get over there quickly, because his brother was in really bad shape.

After treating Carroll with supplemental oxygen at Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital, he was transferred later that evening to Owensboro Regional Hospital in Owensboro. They first tried using a bi-level positive airway pressure, or BIPAP, machine without much response from Carroll. “So they called Christina and told her she was going to have to give consent for him to get put on a ventilator,” Davis said. Carroll was intubated and placed on a ventilator machine on July 18.

The family raced to Owensboro in hopes of seeing Carroll before he was placed on the ventilator, but they got there too late. Carroll would go on to spend two weeks on the ventilator at Owensboro Regional Hospital.

Davis said he and Carroll’s wife would call the hospital every day for progress reports. Eventually, doctors told them it was time to take another course of action, because the ventilator wasn’t working. Carroll was next placed on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, machine.

An incision was made in Carroll’s neck, and a tube inserted there. The patient’s blood is then pumped outside the body into a machine that removes carbon dioxide from the blood and then the newly oxygenated blood is returned to the body. This allows the heart and lungs to rest and heal.

“They had some specialists come from Lexington to the Owensboro hospital and set me up on the machine,” Carroll said. Once he was on the ECMO machine, he was transferred to the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital in Lexington.

Carroll would end up spending 68 days in an induced coma on the ECMO machine. During this time, Davis said, Carroll developed blood clots that threatened his life. Doctors told the family they should be prepared for the worst, as they raced from Muhlenberg County to Lexington to be nearby.

Doctors were able to remove the blood clots, and Carroll eventually improved enough to be removed from the machine. Carroll was next transferred to Sky Rehab in Bowling Green, where he underwent inpatient therapy. Carroll quickly improved and after eight or nine days was released to come home.

“It’s been roughly a month since I’ve been out of a coma,” Carroll said, “I’d say I’m probably 80% where I used to be.” He is still very weak, and will begin outpatient therapy soon. “You know,” Carroll said, “I knew God had touched me. And I knew God had healed me and I knew I was okay.”

Carroll spent 75 days in five hospitals before finally coming home. “I went to sleep in the summer and woke up in the fall.”

Christina Carroll said she kept a journal of the experience, and when he’s ready, she will give it to Shaun to read. She made decisions quickly during the course of the disease, “I didn’t hesitate,” she said, when asked to make medical decisions, “you just can’t when it’s something like that.”

Carroll said he feels the strong response from the church community helped get him through his illness. “The biggest thing was the outreach. The people that was praying,” Carroll said.

Carroll said he has not yet been vaccinated for covid-19, but will when he is cleared to. His wife was vaccinated in April, and did not get sick even after long hours of exposure to the virus. “It was nothing political or anything like that,” he said, “I was just kind of confused about it so I put it off.”

People often don’t think something like this can happen to them, Davis said. Carroll agreed. “I wish I could just touch them and they could feel what I went through,” he said.

Carroll said he is improving every day, and he looks forward to returning to work soon. He works doing cell phone repair in a shop in Bowling Green. “If I wasn’t having tremors, and I wasn’t so weak, I’d probably be going back to work tomorrow,” he said.

Davis said he just wanted to let the community know how Carroll is doing, and thank them for their prayers. He said he wanted to share a good story when there’s so much bad news about covid-19. “And I wanted people to see, prayer works.”

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