Exactly one month ago, David Jackson was the first admitted COVID-19 patient to be released from Beaufort Memorial Hospital.
Jackson was on a ventilator for 11 days, in the hospital almost a month before being released.
Now he’s back home and on the road to recovery.
“When you get home, you feel safe,” said Jackson.
That’s the first feeling David Jackson had when he got back to his Laurel Bay home on April 15. A day he began his journey to recovery.
“I remember when I couldn’t lift anything and was doing these exercises in bed because that’s the best I could do. There was a drive there so it continues.”
In a wheelchair initially, Jackson was determined to get better. Get back to normal.
“I’m retired military, I’m mission-oriented, my wife always says this mission is to get better,” said David. “The mental challenge is to yourself saying ok today I’m going to go a little farther. It may hurt, but I’m going to go a little farther.”
“The discharge is just the end of the first phase of the battle, the worst phase of the battle. And then once you get home you have to keep working hard, and he has been. to get your strength and endurance back,” explains Rebecca Jackson, David’s Wife. “Dave’s been amazing. I think I would have shed some tears fo frustration more than once if I was in his shoes but he just keeps going. that’s just who he is.”
David kept going, and going and going.
“The best day was the day I was able to get rid of the walker. Even if I would go down the hallway bouncing off the walls a little bit, That walker was to me the way I don’t want to be and the way I was in the hospital,” smiles Jackson. “But here I want to be stronger, get stronger this is my therapy. This is how I want to move forward.”
“What’s been the hardest part?”
“Watching her (Rebecca) go through it still,” said David. “Like I said to you the first time we talked she is the one who went to hell and back and the residue of that is still present. It is not as bad as it once was when I first got back home but there are times when I can see she’s fighting with it.”
“We feel its a little like PTSD,” said Rebecca.
The couple is still strong, giving credit to David’s time in the military and the support they have gotten from around the area and the world. Places as far away as Japan.
“Exponentially it grew bigger and bigger to a bigger network of love and support,” said Rebecca. “More than you can imagine. It’s reunited us with long lost friends,”
“I cannot forget the people who worked so hard to get me home and I won’t forget those people,” said Jackson. “Because without them I wouldn’t be home.”
Jackson can now walk 100 yards at a time and stand for 10-12 minutes straight. Small milestones that make a big difference to the couple. but far from the last steps he wants to take.
“This is going to be a great day when I get to?” I asked David.
“When I get to be able to walk a 5k with my wife again.”
“I want to give back like I also told you,” said David. “I want to give blood. I want to provide them with my serum. Maybe there’s a key in there, something.”
“It is like a bad dream that gradually goes away,” said Rebecca. “That’s going to take some time. In the meantime, I’m going to focus on the positive, which there is a lot of.”
Positive things like David’s ability to do “chores a teenager could do” like make the bed or take the dishes from the dishwasher.
That positivity has been what helps this couple make it through every day, and a positive message David hopes to share with anyone else dealing with this virus.
“I understand and know and have felt what you feel,” said David. “Don’t give up, work every day. If you can’t move, try and move. If they come in and give you PT fight with all the grit you can. If you have to rest, rest and remember you have to keep going and going. Don’t give up there are people out there that are rooting for you. You may not be able to see them, but I’m rooting for you, she’s rooting for you (points at Rebecca). For the people that have come out of the same thing. We are with you, I understand you, you are my people. All of you are, and we can get through this together. I think about you, I care about you and together we can win.”
David’s therapists say he is not just on track but ahead of his expected recovery pace.
David now says his other goal is to get back to “normal” and take Rebecca back to Hawaii.