'You don't want what I had': COVID-19 survivor recalls experience

David Lacey spent four days in The Medical Center at Bowling Green being treated for COVID-19

Three weeks ago, as he lay in a hospital bed, David Lacey wasn’t sure if he would see his 54th birthday.

Now that he has passed that important day, though, the Bowling Green resident is intent on ensuring others take the steps needed to reach their own life milestones.

“You don’t want what I had,” said Lacey, who spent four days in The Medical Center at Bowling Green being treated for the COVID-19 respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

As a former nurse now working as a pharmaceutical sales representative and the husband of a public school educator, Lacey is familiar with the concerns of those who have had their lives and livelihoods disrupted by social distancing mandates that have crippled economies worldwide.

But it’s another familiarity – this one with the coronavirus microbe itself – that convinced Lacey that all the economy-killing precautions are necessary in the fight to end the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

He has seen the protests from residents of Kentucky and other states anxious to shorten unemployment lines and jump-start assembly lines. But Lacey’s recent bout with the virus is enough to convince him that opening up commerce would just open up more people to what he has been through.

“I don’t understand the protests,” he said. “This isn’t a Democrat problem or a Republican problem. It’s just a problem.”

Which is what Lacey had on his hands March 30.

He had already been feeling bad, running a low-grade fever that the occasional Tylenol pill seemed to knock out. But this day was different.

“As soon as I got up, I knew something was wrong,” said Lacey, a former college football player who is accustomed to feeling fit. “I took three steps up the stairs and my breath was gone. I felt like I had just sprinted 200 yards.”

Lacey, who remembers his eyeballs hurting as another odd symptom, was rushed to The Medical Center emergency room, where his fever was still mild but a chest X-ray found extreme inflammation in his lungs.

Isolated from his family, except through videoconferencing, Lacey was bedridden for the first two days as he dropped nearly 15 pounds.

“I lost my appetite,” he recalled. “I didn’t want to eat anything.”

A devout Christian, Lacey turned to prayer, and he believes those prayers were answered through the work of the doctors and other health care professionals who were treating him.

A turning point, he said, was when one of the doctors suggested treating him with hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, arthritis and lupus that is now being studied by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine its efficacy in treating COVID-19.

“This medication is not indicated for COVID-19,” Lacey said, “but I think it probably helped turn it around for me. I believe God directed that. He healed me through the help of the doctors.”

Lacey was released from the hospital April 2, two weeks before his birthday, and is now asymptomatic and apparently fully recovered. But he is not complacent about the threat of the coronavirus.

“We have to take this thing seriously,” he said. “I understand people are hurting financially. I want the economy opened up just as much as anybody, but we still don’t know this disease. Every day something is changing. Until we know exactly what it is, we need to follow what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and health care professionals say.”

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit bgdailynews.com.