‘Living life like everyone else’

Greenwood man thrives after near-fatal battle with COVID-19

By Nancy Price

A local family is counting their blessings after COVID-19 nearly destroyed one of their lives.

In mid-March, just as the world was learning about COVID-19, Bryan Hussung was developing symptoms that felt like allergies or a sinus infection. He began taking antibiotics with the assumption he would feel back to normal soon. He didn’t, and his symptoms worsened, mimicking the flu. He finally asked his wife, Jennifer, to take him to the hospital.

FEELING ISOLATED

Jennifer promptly called Community Hospital South to let staff know she was bringing him as admission policies due to COVID-19 were changing. After reaching the hospital, she pulled up to the curb. The staff assisted Bryan into a wheelchair, gave Jennifer a business card and explained that she needed to leave due to new safety protocols. Knowing there was a good chance Bryan had developed COVID-19 and that she couldn’t be with him, she drove to the nearest parking lot and cried.

A family together again: Bryan and Jennifer with their daughters, Ally and Kenna. (Submitted photos)

“Leaving him with such uncertainty was one of the hardest parts,” Jennifer said. “I felt hopeless for him, for myself and I’m trying to explain to our daughters (Kenna and Ally) that I don’t know anything right now.”

COMFORT IN COMMUNICATION

Bryan tested positive for the virus. Meanwhile, he was placed on oxygen since his levels were dangerously decreasing. He had developed pneumonia. The next day, he was transferred to Eskenazi Health, where he was intubated. Eskenazi’s staff frequently contacted Jennifer to update her on his condition. “One doctor that oversaw Bryan’s care, she would call me every day around 12:30 p.m. It didn’t matter if it was good news, bad or no change, she was going to call me. She might talk to me about my emotions and the girls’ emotions. Her role in this pandemic was just as important as the care Bryan received,” she said.

After a few days, Bryan’s health worsened and for several days, doctors were unsure if he would get better. On Palm Sunday, Jennifer called the hospital to check in. “The nurse said, ‘you called at a really good time. Bryan is scheduled to come out of intubation at noon,’” she recalled.

Bryan was home in time for his birthday.

Bryan spent an additional four days recovering at the hospital. One morning he decided to thank the ICU staff that helped him by ordering breakfast from McDonald’s.  “These people saved my life,” Bryan said. “They’re working tirelessly. One of the nurses said, ‘You made quite an impression today.’ I said, ‘You made an impression for me.”

A REASON TO CELEBRATE

The day Bryan discharged the staff celebrated his recovery. “I come out of the room, everyone starts clapping and a few doctors said, ‘To be in your condition, on the ventilator has long as you were, it’s a miracle.’ I sat on a wheelchair, the nurse spins me around and around a dozen nurse were lining the hallway. They’re playing ‘We Are The Champions’ (by Queen). It was amazing.”

On the way home, Bryan was in for another surprise. His neighbors’ cars were parked on the side of the road and horns were blasting. Other neighbors stood on the side of the road with bells and balloons, banging pans and wearing hats. “It just felt so amazing that all these people were showing so much love,” he said.

Bryan is getting back to his favorite activities.

Brian is now adjusted back to daily life. He cooks breakfast, helps with laundry and just started back to work this week. “I’m living life like everyone else,” he said.

COUNTING THEIR BLESSINGS

Through this journey, the family has learned how to put things into perspective. Kenna, 14, will be graduating eighth grade and Ally, 17, will graduate from high school. Ally will have no prom to attend and it’s unclear at this point if she can attend graduation due to COVID1-19 guidelines. Yet they still have their father and their family can celebrate Mother’s Day together.

“It was a blessing that he made it home for several important celebrations including his birthday, Easter and now Mother’s Day,” Jennifer said. “It makes each of these days a little more extra special than normal. It makes our home feel complete again. We don’t take any day for granted. Each new day, holiday or not, we are reminded of what a living miracle he is to our family and how good God is.”