A CANCELED SHOW.
A DEADLY VIRUS.
A SECOND CHANCE.
How I became Northwest Hospital's "Miracle of 2009."
They gave me a 10–15 percent chance of survival. I'm convinced there are two main reasons I'm alive today:
- the amazing people who were all around me
- this crazy high-tech bed
Sorry, I should back up.
I'm a musician. I'm in this band called Eclectic Approach, and after a lot of work and sacrifice, we landed an unbelievable opportunity to open for a major artist. Huge break. And I was on a total high.
But then I started feeling...not great. Fever, I was tired, coughing.
I really shouldn't have been singing, but our tour was days away. I thought I could just play through the pain, like they say. But then I was coughing up blood in between songs.
I pushed it — I know I did. But this opportunity was what we'd been working so hard for. I thought, I can't be sick. And I was otherwise healthy — eating right, working out.
The night before the big show, I woke up worse than ever. When I got to the Emergency Department at Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, everyone could see I was in bad shape. I was sweating, coughing up horrible stuff. They found my white blood cell count was way way down. One of the last things I heard when they put the mask over my face was that I didn't have AIDS or cancer. That was good.
And that's when they induced a coma to save my life.
It was swine flu — H1N1 — and it was bad. I was in a coma for 15 days, and given only a 10–15 percent chance of survival.
There are big gaps in what I remember — because of the coma — but I know every detail now. I know I was put in this new high-tech bed in the ICU. It constantly rotated me to keep fluid out of my lungs. I also know that Dr. Keenan (Physician, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center) slept there so she could make sure I was okay. I know that my mom, dad, brother and sisters, and friends all rallied around me, made Team Jowed T-shirts and recorded a song for me in the bathroom at the hospital.
What I actually do remember are strange dreams, stories and lights. Feeling lost, trapped and confused. And then opening my eyes to see Nurse Mike standing there, and I thought, hey, I know him. Maybe it'll be okay.
The nurses there, I'll never forget them. Big Mike who's just an amazing guy. Lana fed me way too much good food. And Jude, who would sit and just talk with me for hours.
But one memory really stands out: When I was going home, I walked outside, and it was like the trees were waving to me and saying, "Welcome back to this beautiful world." That's something I never want to forget.
I go back pretty often to see the nurses and Dr. Keenan at Northwest Hospital, and remind them all that they did something really good.
But I think they know it.