San Diego County Democratic Leader Shares His Story After Surviving COVID-19
Speaker 1: 00:00 Well, efforts intensified to slow the spread of coven 19 and limit the number of people who are sickened and whose lives are threatened by this disease. There are some who have already come out the other side. The head of the San Diego County democratic party will Rodriguez Kennedy is now out of the hospital after spending nearly a week in the intensive care unit fighting covert 19, he's continuing his recuperation in quarantine and he has a tale to tell. Will Rodriguez Kennedy. So pleased to be speaking with you. Welcome to the program. Speaker 2: 00:32 Thank you for having me. Speaker 1: 00:33 Well first of all, how are you feeling? Speaker 2: 00:35 Um, you know, I'm getting better every, every day. Um, I'm feeling pretty good today. I don't have any of the active symptoms of the disease, but it does attack your lungs and sort of diminish your breathing capacity and I'm dealing with that and getting stronger every day. Speaker 1: 00:50 Now you're still in quarantine. How long have doctors told you to remain in quarantine? Speaker 2: 00:54 That is an open question. I, it's hard to tell. Um, I think the county's guidelines are seven or eight days after losing your symptoms. So in theory in the next couple of days I could be out of corn pain, but then I would go home and I would, it's still basically being quarantined because of the stay at home order. Speaker 1: 01:12 Now there are so many of us wondering what this Corona virus is like. What kind of symptoms did you experience and can you tell us how you first noticed you were getting sick? Speaker 2: 01:24 The day before I actually noticed my symptoms. I lost like sort of my sense of smell and taste. I didn't even know that was a symptom of, of, of coronavirus at the time. But the next day, however, I broke into a fever and had chills. Oh, nausea and these excruciating muscle aches and I had already had the flu in January. So I knew that was sort of suspicious because you don't normally get the flu twice in such a short period. But then over that weekend, the council member, Steve Pedea from Chula Vista had said that they had tested positive. And at that point I had known that I had come in contact with someone who had the illness. Now, it's not clear that I got it from him, but it because he, I, I knew I was exposed. I got tested on that Monday. I think it was the 16th or 17th. That's when I suspected that I had the disease. Speaker 1: 02:21 Now how quickly did your illness develop into something really bad? Speaker 2: 02:25 Basically from the start, uh, on the 14th I had symptoms of a flu that were really bad. I was determined to fight the illness from home. However, on Friday my condition deteriorated and it appears that the way this virus works is that it doesn't throw all the symptoms. Like, you know, if you get the flu, you, you get like all the bad symptoms and then there's sort of like a peak, then your fever breaks and then you get better. Well, we'll Cove it in 19. It sort of escalates later on in, in the period when you're sick and it throws respiratory symptoms at you or it can. And so seven days into my illness I started having trouble breathing. So I called the VA and it was still minor, um, when I called the VA. Uh, but they, they identified that Hey, once just you start having trouble breathing, it's time to come in. Speaker 2: 03:18 And they did. They took me in and my condition tearjerker did I, I got, I got sicker. I w I was just, I was on the path of getting worse. I, there was a period when I was sitting in a chair and I just couldn't sit up. So they did a bunch of tests. They did, they, they tested me again for coven 19. Okay. And they put me through a CT scan. The CT scan must've told dr [inaudible] there's, cause there's, there's some things you can see in the CT scan that can tell you, well, something's going on, you need to go into the hospital. And so they admitted me immediately and then ended up in the ICU that evening. Were you on a ventilator? No. So the process of intubation is very invasive and um, and I fought that [inaudible] bye bye. Basically intentionally breathing in like, so like consciously and you know, breathing is supposed to be sort of a subconscious thing. [inaudible] do it. But aye specifically focused on fighting the intubation because it's invasive and there are more complications with it. Um, and they instead kept me on oxygen and was, they were treating my symptoms. Um, and there were a lot of symptoms. So Speaker 1: 04:24 now you write on your Facebook page that you were literally fighting for your life. Did you believe that you would survive this? Speaker 2: 04:32 I'm a Marine veteran and so it's one of the questions that often I get asked about this is that, you know, were you afraid for your life where you're afraid that you could die? And for [inaudible] veterans who are trained to go into combat, it's less, it's less about fear and more about like accepting the reality that right, this could, you could die from this, right? [inaudible] yes. When dealing with [inaudible], the inability to debrief, that's something I've never had in an illness. That is a sobering realization that if you cannot breathe, you can die. And I could not breathe. And I assisted, there were periods where like I was, it felt like if I, if like my whole, like the, if, if I, if I were to take a, uh, a regular breath, that there wasn't enough air in the room for me to like breathe and that triggered coughing and vomiting and all sorts of [inaudible] unfortunate symptoms as a result of not being able to breathe. And, you know, I was, I it w yes, this could have killed me. Speaker 1: 05:33 I know you're very grateful for the care you got at the VA and you've been giving a shout out, a big shout out to the nurses and the doctors there. Speaker 2: 05:40 Yeah. So the doctors and nurses were truly great. Um, the nurses were practically heroic there. Um, well there was a period when I had fallen asleep and mine oxygen mask, I guess for lack of a better word, fell off of my face. And as a result, the uh, machine starts beeping crazily, which woke me up and then I woke up that [inaudible] the inability to breathe. Yeah. And I'm, I'm, I woke up gasping for air. I don't know, I just found it heroic the way that they like came so close to me to like help you find my master whatever and like please like, cause like, you know, the closer that you get to the patient, the more likely you could get [inaudible] sick or even though they had their personal protective gear, you know, I could cough on the Marcel thing because I can't help it cause I'm gasping for air. Right. And I just found that the there willingness to put themselves on the line to like help me find an oxygen mask and to make sure that I was okay was heroic behavior. My doctors were the best. I, I feel like I got good care that may have saved my life. Speaker 1: 06:46 Now there are people will who are still not taking this outbreak seriously. And I know that you have a message for them. What's your message? Speaker 2: 06:54 So this disease does not discriminate. There are more and more stories about people well in their twenties and thirties who are not only getting the disease, uh, but who are dying from it. In fact, I believe in the County of San Diego, the 30 to 39 range is the law has the plurality of cases [inaudible] and so there is th this disease is very serious and there are some people who are like, well Lou was very serious too, right? And the flu kills hundreds of thousands of people in the world every year. So this is the flu plus respiratory symptoms plus lung, like like greater damage over a long period of time. I think this is a very serious disease and I think people should take it seriously. And I, I think that it's important that while taking it seriously, it's also important not to panic. When I went into the hospital, I called the head, I didn't go into the ER, I called my, I called my health care provider and they walked me through the symptoms and they're like, no, you need to come in at the same time, you know, some of us may be able to fight it [inaudible] from home or may have milder symptoms and it's going to be going to be important to have to be reasonable about how we look at it. Speaker 2: 08:05 Our part in this, because we have like sort of the societal commitment or like duty to one honor the States stay at home order and two to like make sure that we're not freaking out every time we cough. Right. So I guess my two messages are too both take this seriously, but at the same time, not panic cause we can, we can survive this together. Speaker 1: 08:27 I've been speaking with will Rodriguez Kennedy, he's the head of the San Diego County democratic party. He is in quarantine after recovering from the ICU and his belt with coven 19 we'll continue your recovery, take it easy. And I'm so glad we had a chance to speak. Speaker 2: 08:44 Thank you for having me.