On New Year’s Eve, Gwen Pope found herself in an ambulance being transported to the emergency room at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital – Lake Saint Louis. Within hours, she tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted to the COVID-19 unit. Her caregivers tried every option, but eventually she was put on a respirator.
During that time, her son, who is the choir director at a local school, produced a CD of family members singing songs to be played in Gwen’s room. Gwen says she remembers listening to those songs playing in her room, even though she didn’t realize who was singing.
A member of the hospital’s Pastoral team, Rev. Chris Dumas, Chaplain and friend of Gwen, said: “As soon as she was on the respirator, I would speak to her as usual and describe what was going on that day. I would check that the CD was turned off and say a prayer. What a joy when I saw her without that tube and her smile slowly returning. “
Gwen said that one of the most difficult parts of his recovery was the fog of the brain. “Like someone with a master’s degree [degree] who taught at school for 40 years, I couldn’t believe it when they asked me to name three animals, and I just couldn’t, “she said.
On that New Year’s Eve ambulance trip, Gwen could never have predicted the journey ahead of her. “It was a real roller coaster ride,” said Gwen. But finally, on Valentine’s Day, Gwen was able to go home. She was able to return to church at Easter. Gwen is now almost fully recovered. The fog from your head is gone. She continues to fight fatigue and loss of smell and taste, but she hopes that it will improve over time.
As for what helped Gwen to survive, Rev. Dumas has some theories: “Hope is the best medicine and Gwen has always had hope for her recovery and her caregivers. We [the staff] he also concluded that the home CD with his favorite music and family messages helped. “