Shliach Rabbi Elazar Green of Lancaster, PA, recounts his near-death encounter with Coronavirus and his miraculous recovery.
By Elazar Green for Lubavitch.com
I’ve had a fever for weeks.
Every day seemed like forever.
I isolated myself in the Chabad Center.
Shivers. Sweats. Shivers and sweats.
Coughing. Coughing that wouldn’ stop.
I took the COVID testing in Ephrata [Pennsylvania], on Monday. They said they’ll know in four days…
Four days was more than I had.
Tylenol managed the pain and the fever . . . until it spiked to 103.
The doctor ordered a chest x-ray. It came back with pneumonia
The following Tuesday I checked myself into Lancaster General Hospital.
The ER Doc got my oxygen levels under control and sent me home.
My oxygen levels continued to fall. Very low. I went back to the hospital Wednesday night.
They admitted me.
I had no breath. No relief.
They didn’t want to try the COVID experimental treatment because the tests weren’t back yet.
They didn’t want me taking too much Tylenol either.
So every six hours I had a small measure of relief from the pain . . . for about 40 minutes.
For two days, I burned with fever. I gasped for breath. They checked my vitals every eight hours.
It seemed I was going to die.
I had to make final arrangements. I had to talk things through with Shira.
I had no breath… I couldn’t talk. We texted.
Shira involved a doctor from Hopkins who knew the Yale COVID Protocol. (You can read more about this here)
He didn’t give up on me. He asked every doctor on my case to start treatment with tocilizumab.
They all declined. He had no privileges at that hospital. Also, it was too new.
In the meantime, my lungs got worse.
I woke up on Friday. Something was terribly wrong. They came in to take my vitals.
71% Oxygen level.
Must be a mistake. They got a new sensor.
They took an x-ray. My lungs were all white.
“You are very sick. We’re going to put you to sleep for a few days and stick a tube down into your lungs. Just sit tight.”
They increased the oxygen from two to six liters. That was the maximum allowed outside the ICU. It wasn’t enough.
They started prepping me for transfer to the ICU.
I started googling. Survival rate following organ failure is 50%. Intubation has a 30% successful extubation.
I was going to die.
I said Shema Yisrael. I needed to compose goodbye messages to everyone. But I was in so much pain.
In the ICU, they hooked me up to an oxygen machine that had huge capacity. Eighty liters of oxygen.
This was Friday morning.
They were going to see how I did on this machine before intubation.
(The ICU nurse later told me that really we should have gone straight to intubation. This machine aerolisizes the virus making it dangerous for everyone.)
The tests results still weren’t in. Shira and the Hopkins Doc kept on talking to the doctors. Finally, one of them agreed to start the treatment for COVID.
They started me on Tocilizumab at 5:20 pm Friday. They drove a swab to Philly for a rapid test.
Saturday morning my fever finally broke. For the first time in two weeks.
That’s when I got notice that I’m COVID positive from the Rapid Test.
Then they started the anti-malaria drugs and azithromycin.
Thank you Hashem.
By Sunday, I knew I wasn’t going to die.
I was taking in oxygen.
Monday I got transferred out of the ICU.
Wednesday I was discharged.
As I put on my shoes, I got a call from the first testing place.
“I’m so sorry sir, we just got back the test. You are positive for Covid. You should isolate yourself….”
“I’m being discharged as we speak. Thanks for your help though.”
One of the challenges of our particular Chabad is that we serve a “hodge podge” of demographics. We don’t have one community.
We have a college. We have two cities. We have Shluchim that we help.
It’s not neat. Sometimes, it’s hard to disperse our focus so widely.
What a blessing.
Help and blessings and prayers came from this fabulous hodge-podge. Everyone stepped up. I am overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude.
Thank you Hashem for your kindness and blessings. Thank you for the oxygen . . . for some more time on this earth to serve you.
Thank you, Shira. You held it together and more. You rewrote the book of an Aishes Chayil. You fought for my health when I couldn’t. You were strong for the kids. And for me.
Thank you to my parents. You stepped up and helped in ways that I am still figuring out. May Hashem bless you with much happiness and may you never know sorrow or pain again.
Thank you Dr. Rosenberg for your generous time and expertise to make sure that I got the treatment and care that I needed.
Thank you to the Chabad on Campus Shluchim and the Chabad on Campus International team. Your round the clock prayers and tzedaka gave me strength just as I walked through the valley of the shadow of death.
Thank you to the Grow Shluchim Group, the Maryland Shluchim, The Pennsylvania Shluchim, and the California Shluchim who all split Tehillim, praying for me again and again.
Thank you to the Kosman Clan, my family of uncles and aunts and cousins, who held daily Tehillim recitations, and pledged good deeds for my recovery. And for the notes, cards, and gifts for the kids. And Uncle/Dr. Dan, who made sure I went to the hospital.
Thank you to my siblings, the Greens, who stepped up with advice and care, each in their own way.
Thank you to my in-laws, the Cohens who kept saying Tehilim and were pillars of support and strength for Shira.
Thank you to the very special Shluchim and Shluchos, who collected gifts and cards and sent them in a very thoughtful and helpful way.
Thank you to the Shluchim Fund and other Shluchim who helped financially.
Thank you to the York Jewish Community, your messages of concern and care were exactly what I needed.
Thank you to the Lancaster Community, and our dear friends who went shopping, stopped by the house, and made sure Shira and the kids have what they need.
The wave of messages from facebook and WhatsApp from so many friends, alumni, and friends. (Yes, I said friends twice.) You warmed my heart and gave me strength.
And there are hundreds and hundreds of strangers. Friends of friends. Friends of family. Friends of friends of friends. So many who don’t know me but davened for me and my family.
Mi K’Amcha Yisroel – who is like the Jewish nation!
And with much love,
Rabbi Elazar Green
Rabbi Green, Director of Chabad of Lancaster, PA, will require several weeks of recuperation, and will then need to take frequent breaks. Your support is greatly appreciated.