Given his previous experience, Harris was insistent about the care he was going to receive and directed his sister to a hospital that took them two hours to reach.
When they arrived, it took all his will and might to get himself into the wheelchair that was provided for him at curbside. As he was being triaged, Harris lost his voice and was barely able to hand his wallet over to confirm his identity.
“All the while I could see nurses running with a gurney to come get me,” he said. “They put me on that gurney so fast, and they put some oxygen on me and they put something on my face. [Then] they took me up to ICU.
“I have never had my clothes taken off so fast. They took my clothes off in about two seconds flat. They had that vent tube down my throat so fast. I mean, it was unbelievable how fast they moved. And when they got me on a ventilator at that time, the ventilator was breathing for me 100 percent. I was not breathing on my own at all.”
With one of his lungs filled with pneumonia and the other coronavirus, it was no wonder Harris was having trouble breathing. The doctors told his sister the obvious — “he’s in bad shape” — and promised her they would monitor him, even though their hopes were dwindling by the hour.
Over the next few days, Harris watched the activity of the nurses in amazement. Suited from head to toe in protective gear, they ran up and down the halls, responding to machines in every room. All the while, his room had been stripped of his personal belongings, creating bewilderment and overall disbelief that this was life.
“I honestly thought I was dead,” he said. His nurse, who was in the room when he made the proclamation, assured him that was not the case. “I did not believe her. I knew I was dead. I could hear nothing. I could see nothing. I pulled the vent tube out my mouth, and probably 10 people came in that room.”
When he finally realized he was still among the living some five days later, Harris tearfully recounted the visitor who came for him during his unimaginable days at death’s door.
“When I thought I was dead, I felt the death angel. I felt it to the point that I saw it. And my room door was closed, but she couldn’t get in. It was in the form of a lady. She was in a dress [and] when she came to the door, I felt it. I knew what it was when I saw it. [There] was no question about it. The feeling I had, I knew she was coming to get me, and the Lord would not allow that death angel to come into the room. It was so crazy because she came to the door but she couldn’t get in the door, and she just smiled and walked away.
“Next thing I know, I hear these code blues in other rooms where people were dying from this COVID. These code blues started going off everywhere.
“And every now and again, during those five days, I would see her periodically on the floor. [I’d] just look up, and she’d be looking dead at me. As soon as she [had] seen me looking, she waved and walked away. This was happening all week long and all the time. That week, I was hearing all these code blues go off. Six to seven code blues [at a time] — six, seven people leave, six, seven more people come in … every single day. People were coming in and leaving back out, and I was still in there. I was still in there. The Lord was healing my body. The whole time I’m hearing all these people. Lord have mercy. For five and six days, I was hearing all these people lose their lives, and the Lord spared my life.”
Fortunately, Harris lived to talk about it and has fully recovered from his devastating bout with COVID-19.
Story by N. Ali Early
Images courtesy of Robert Harris