by Dave Warner
When 2021 started for all of us, who knew what a year it would be? I didn’t know that in March, I’d be writing about my experience at Little Falls Hospital and how incredible it had been.
However, how could I have predicted that they and Bassett would be back in my future and occupy the last two months of the year for me?
So…how do I explain what has happened to me in November and December?
I tried to get it into a visual I could quickly relay to people. Remember those old westerns we used to watch? The old rancher is out trying to fix a break in the fence, and all of a sudden he gets slammed in the chest. He looks down and there’s a hole there, and then he hears the gunshot.
He keeps working…not making much of what has happened to him, because he’s tough, right?
Then he feels that hit in the chest again, and then the sound of the shot. But, he’s got to get that fence fixed and he keeps working on it.
Then, there’s the third hit. He turns around wondering just what it’s going to take to let him finish.
In the meantime, the gunman gives up after the three shots to the chest because this guy just won’t go down.
That pretty much explains the last six weeks of what I’ve gone through. Covid pneumonia hit me in early November hard, and according to the doctors, probably came in through a weakness that was still around in my lungs from the March issues.
I ended up on a ventilator at Cooperstown and my wife Deborah was given the news that there was little chance I would come off it or survive. But, she is a researcher and dug into the data herself to try and find a way out.
They had tried to take me off the machine seven times and I would fail the test at the end which had me breathing by myself. I couldn’t do it.
In the middle of the night, she talked to one doctor about a group that was going cold-turkey on getting off the ventilator. So, we yanked all the tubes out and made it. The doctor said it was kind of a crapshoot to see if I would be able to breath after that. It was either going to result in success or I would have to be intubated again and never come off the ventilator or die.
I remember this moment, although I don’t remember much from my stay there. Too many drugs and really too hard to remember what was real and what wasn’t. At times Deborah called that person ‘Alternate Dave.’ The alternate memories were detailed and specific and some of my lines are pretty funny to listen to now.
They turned to me and asked if I wanted the stuff out. I remember nodding my head and then grabbing tubes and pulling them out of my body. The doctor came over and helped. When they were all gone, I took a breath and kept going.
I went on the BiPAP for an hour after that in order to stabilize and then straight to oxygen.
According to my wife, the next disaster was discovering that I had bacterial pneumonia before I was to be released. They told her I had between two hours and two days to live at that point.
The symptoms were bad and I was weak from Covid pneumonia.
As we were preparing for me to come home to die, another miracle occurred and as a last resort, the doctors prescribed steroids which halted my decline and allowed me to make day-by-day improvement. It went from a hospice situation to palliative care at home.
So three different times that Deborah was told I was not likely to live.
Prayer… so what does the power of prayer have to do with any of this?
I remember early on Deborah telling me about how many people were praying for me, but specifically, I remember her telling me Lori Casullo had started a prayer line at Holy Family Parish.
Now, you hear it all the time – I’ll pray for you, etc., etc., etc. You can be religious or not, but when you hear those words and you’re not in the middle of your own crisis, they can fall flat.
For some reason, the more Deborah explained to me not just the number of people who were praying, but the scope….churches from Texas, Tennessee, Massachusetts, New York to Maryland…people who didn’t really know me, getting on their knees and praying for me to ‘make it’, it became pretty real.
I will tell you that there is true power in that experience. I don’t know how to explain it, but I can tell you that I felt it, and at some point, it had an impact on whether I came home or not. I connect it to the rancher story above where maybe it was the third time? That’s what sticks in my head – hearing those voices telling me not to give up, to try and make it because I have more left to offer.
I talked to my sister on Sunday and she said that at the Saturday night service they announced ‘Dave Warner is home.’ People you have never met, praying for you and thanking God that you have made it home – amazing.
Believe whatever you want, but I believe that prayer experience by all those people is part of how I am even home now.
I don’t even know how to thank everyone, for the prayers, hundreds of cards, gifts, and everything else that has shown up by my doorstep, from home-cooking to cookies, to gift boxes from Aspen. It’s been an overwhelming experience to say the least.
So…weeks of rehab is where we are now, but I can get to my computer, I am writing again, so let’s hope it’s not TOO long before I’m back behind the camera and running around the City.
NOTE: Just a quick shout out to all the incredible staff at Bassett. People have no idea what some of these young people are dealing with on a daily basis. When they sit with you at one o’clock in the morning, you hear some pretty amazing stories. I will try and remember all of you and when I can, let the world know what you are going through and coping with.