Preston and Shawna pictured prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surviving COVID-19

"Miracle guy" Preston Williams recalls his rapid decline and the team that saved him.

In late December 2020, Preston Williams, 61, of Granite Shoals began to experience what he thought was the typical chest congestion that occasionally affected him. Thinking nothing of it, he took medication prescribed by his doctor, aware that his symptoms might get worse before they got better.

Instead, things just kept getting worse.

A week later, his wife, Shawna, began displaying mild symptoms of COVID-19, and the couple tested for the virus. While waiting on results, Mrs. Williams began to feel better, but Mr. Williams’ health suddenly began to rapidly decline.

“I woke up with almost every symptom of COVID-19, and it was attacking me with a vengeance,” Mr. Williams says. “My doctor ordered a chest x-ray, and before I even left the parking lot she called to say I had pneumonia. A few minutes later, my wife called and said we were both positive for the virus.”

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"I'm not a miracle—I just slept through the whole thing. If there's a miracle here, I believe it's because God placed his hands on the team that kept me alive."

Preston Williams

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The next day, Mr. Williams found himself in the Emergency Room at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Marble Falls, and in the Intensive Care Unit just a few days later. “They put me on all the recommended medications and a high level of oxygen, but I just kept steadily going downhill,” he says. “Then they started talking about the possibility of putting me on a ventilator.”

A ventilator acts as a mechanical set of lungs for patients who are unable to breathe adequately on their own, or for those who are undergoing surgery. While a ventilator does not cure disease, it allows time for healing.

“I didn’t want to be intubated and maybe not wake up, especially without seeing my wife for the last time,” Mr. Williams says. “Because of the pandemic, she couldn’t come in the hospital with me. The rules about visitors were in place to protect everyone, but being there by yourself and removed from your normal support system does add a mental battle on top of the physical battle against the disease.”

Unfortunately, his oxygen levels continued to drop. “I was getting worse not by the hour, but by the minute,” Mr. Williams says. “They kept trying to convince me to go on the ventilator, until one of my doctors said ‘I’m not going to give you any promises, but the window of time that this could help you is closing. You’re relatively young and healthy, so if anyone has a fighting chance on this machine, it’s you.’ So I made the decision to do it, and the good Lord saw me through.”

Mr. Williams spent seven days sedated on a ventilator before doctors began to wean him from the supplemental oxygen. When he woke up, the staff were just as thrilled as Preston and his wife.

Mr. Williams gets ready to leave the hospital after his battle against COVID-19.

“People would stick their head in my door and say ‘That’s the miracle guy!’ But I’m not a miracle—I just slept through the whole thing,” he says. “My doctors and nurses did all the work. If there’s a miracle here, I believe it’s because God placed his hands on the team that kept me alive.”

During his recovery, Mr. Williams grew to know the doctors and nurses who cared for him. “I was so amazed at how truly caring they all were,” he says. “One nurse was like my umbilical cord when I first woke up. Another took the time to explain everything in detail to my wife and helped ease her stress. I could tell it wasn’t just a job for them; it was a calling. There’s no way I could ever thank them enough.”

Throughout the pandemic, our communities have come together to support frontline caregivers and our patients. “I don’t know how to begin to thank the donors who used their own resources to supply the machines and protective equipment for the staff who were caring for me,” Mr. Williams says. “I’d love to be able to hug everyone who gave to this hospital. They certainly had a hand in saving my life.”

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