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Overcoming COVID-19 with faith

COVID-19 has affected every individually differently. Some haven’t had any symptoms. Some have had mild symptoms. Others, unfortunately have had their life ended from the virus. 

For Brienna Schmidt, it was one of the worst battles of her life, for her life.

Brienna’s journey began after having shingles for three weeks. 

“I thought the feeling bad was from the shingles,” Brienna said. “We decided to go get tested because [my husband, Ryan] had lost his sense of smell. So, they did the rapid test on me and a regular test on him on Nov. 6.”

Brienna, whose only previous health condition is thyroid issues, came back positive and at the time they had assumed Ryan was positive, too. Brienna was eventually admitted into the hospital for low oxygen and low blood pressure and was in the hospital for three days. She came home the following Monday, was home for two days and slept all day Wednesday.

“When I got up that evening (Nov. 11), we ended up calling an ambulance because my O2 (oxygen) was in the 70s,” Brienna said. “I spent about a week in the hospital trying all of the things to get me to clear up and on Nov. 20 they put me on the ventilator.”

On Nov. 19, Ryan said the hospital had called at 2 a.m. and had tried putting her on the bi-pap before they intubated Brienna. Later in the day, Ryan had received the call that the doctors were doing all the can for his wife.

“Everything that we have tried to do to this point, she is not responding to it,” Ryan said. “The ventilator is set to the max it can be. There is nothing else that can be done. I promise I’m doing everything I can. Basically he was setting me up for the ‘next’ phone call.”

Before she got on the ventilator, Brienna’s faith in God was stronger than ever.

“God told me, ‘This is your time to rest, let your lungs rest and let Me heal them,’” Brienna said. “I hadn’t told anybody that. But I knew when we were talking about it, God had told me it was my time to rest.”

Ryan said she didn’t respond well to the ventilator at the start and described their treatment and her response as a “roller coaster.”

“After 10 to 12 days, they decided to do spontaneous breathing,” Ryan said. “They basically put it on a setting where it skips a breath, and she has to catch the breath. She didn’t respond well to that. It made her take a step backwards.”

The doctor asked Ryan if they wanted to do a tracheotomy after 14 days. Which is where the tube goes directly into the throat, instead of through the mouth.

“They told me that on an older person, if we make it to 14 days (most of them don’t), sometimes there isn’t much hope with that,” Ryan said. “But with your wife, she is young enough, it might help.”

Ryan agreed for them to do the tracheotomy after she had been intubated for 27 days, which they did on Dec. 17. 

“As of Dec. 10, the pneumonia and infection was already clear,” Ryan said. “But COVID-19 had done so much, she couldn’t come off of the ventilator. During all of this time, she was basically chemically paralyzed, heavily sedated and had a feed tube. We weren’t allowed to see her other than one nurse who would Facetime us so we could talk to her.”

When clergy were allowed into the hospital, Brienna’s brother, AJ Taylor of New Horizon Community Fellowship, had started to go see her.

After the installation of the trache, the spontaneous breathing started to work and Brienna started to make a recovery. 

By Dec. 27, she had been taken off all of her IVs and Brienna started waking up and on Dec. 31, she was off of the ventilator.

On Jan. 1, Brienna took a huge step in her recovery.

“The respiratory therapist was in there tending to her and he said, ‘I thought I heard sound coming from her,” Ryan said. “He went over and took the fluid out of the balloon for the trache and asked Brienna to talk. Then she started talking. That was one of the first major miracles.”

Brienna failed the swallow test and did require a feeding port still, but did pass it on Jan. 4. By Jan. 7, she was out of ICU and one day later she was moved to Vibra Hospital in Amarillo for physical therapy.

She left Vibra on Feb. 3 and is now at home.

“I got to a point where I could walk with a walker,” Brienna said. “I walked 123 feet, took a break and walked another 100-plus feet. My legs were working, I could walk, feed myself, and have full range of motion with my right hand (her left hand is has some nerve damage, but should recover). They set goals for me and said I blew them out of the water.”

Brienna firmly believes prayer is what got her past COVID-19.

“Throughout all of this I know prayer is what got me through this and out of it,” Brienna said. “I had pastors praying for me, random people praying for me, nurses and people all over the area praying for me.”

Brienna was able to return to church two Sundays ago.

As for the rest of Brienna’s family, they know Ryan had COVID-19 and know for sure that three of the seven children had COVID-19 also. Ryan had mild symptoms with losing sense of taste/smell and a sinus headache.

Through it all, faith is your strongest ally when battling COVID-19.

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