A Rehoboth Beach man considers himself blessed for surviving an intense case of COVID-19.
Charles Bounds, 36, said he started feeling sick the last week of March.
“I thought I had a cold or the flu, but I didn’t really have a fever,” Bounds said. “Then I realized how fatigued I was. I was losing my breath. Everything took so much energy. I went to change the sheet on my bed and did half of it. I had to sit down before making the other side.”
By March 26, he said, he thought he had pneumonia. He decided to get checked out at a walk-in center after his dialysis appointment the next day.
“I have kidney disease,” Bounds said. “They always take your temperature before and after dialysis. Before, it was 98°, and after, it was 100.1°. They were concerned it went up like that in just a couple hours of me sitting there.”
At the walk-in center, he was tested for COVID-19. “The nurse who listened to my lungs told me to go to the ER,” Bounds said. “She said, ‘There’s no way you don’t have pneumonia.’”
Bounds said Beebe Healthcare emergency clinicians diagnosed him with pneumonia, so he was admitted.
“My breathing was shallow, so they put me on oxygen,” Bounds said. “The doctor asked if it would be OK if they had to intubate me to help with my breathing. I had heard that question before in a hospital, and thought it was a typical question to ask, so I said, ‘Of course, whatever is needed to keep me alive.’”
About an hour after his admission, he was moved to isolation in the ICU.
“I felt sick, and I just thought it was pneumonia, but I started to get worried,” he said. “I wasn’t there long before they gave me medication to relax me. They said they thought they were going to have to intubate me.”
Bounds said a doctor told him they found the earlier they intubate patients, the better their survival and recovery rates are.
“I don’t remember a lot for about four to five days after that, then I remember them saying they want to take me off the vent,” Bounds said. “I still had breathing tubes, but I could breathe on my own, with help if needed.”
As he improved, the tubes were removed, and he wore a CPAP-type mask for a day to assist his breathing before he was put on oxygen. He was in the hospital another week before being discharged.
“I don’t remember a COVID conversation till I got off the vent, but I figured I had it because the nurses always had on gowns, masks and visors,” he said. “I am typically afraid of hospitals, so it was great to be so well cared for, because I was petrified being there.”
Bounds said a physical therapist removed the oxygen while he worked with him in the room, helping him navigate with a walker. After therapy, his oxygen level was in the 90s; normal is between 95-100.
“Later I was sitting in my chair on oxygen, and a nurse knocked on the window and said I could take the oxygen off, I didn’t need it,” Bounds said. “I was like, oh my god! I knew that was a good marker. I thought I’d have to go home with oxygen, but I went home with just a mask on my face.”
Bounds’ discharge was recorded on Beebe Healthcare’s Facebook page. His shoulders shook with sobs as he was wheeled past dozens of clapping healthcare workers to an awaiting car for the trip home.
Bounds said he feels good now. His breathing is strong, and he can shower on his own, although he still gets fatigued. He goes to a different unit for dialysis now, until it’s safe to be around other people.
“I’m just impatient, putting up with slow progress, but it’s a great time to learn patience,” he said. “I’m young, but I have kidney disease, and that made me susceptible. Watching the news, I see a lot of younger people are getting it.”
Bounds, who works as an entertainer at Blue Moon in Rehoboth, was not working for nearly two weeks before he got sick, because the restaurant had closed to in-person dining.
“I had pretty much quarantined myself by then,” he said. “I was just going to dialysis and back. I will never know where I got it.”
Bounds said the health department and Beebe clinicians call him regularly.
“Everyone checks on you; it’s a blessing,” he said. “There are people who came to the hospital before me, and even after me, who are still there, so I feel very blessed to recover, and that I am recovering so well.”
Bounds said he considers himself to be a positive person.
“Ask anyone who knows me,” he said. “I’ve always cherished friends and family, but that’s elevated now. A big portion is fuzzy, but what I remember was very scary. I couldn’t talk, and I remember thinking I was going to die. I prayed, ‘Lord, please let me live because there is so much I want to do.’
“Now my fear of trying things is gone,” he said. “I want to tackle everything now. I have a zest for life.”