A 90-year-old US woman recovered from the coronavirus, and she credits family, God, and potato soup
- Geneva Wood had a stroke in December that left her recovering in a Washington state nursing home.
- Last month, Life Care Center at Kirkland went on lockdown after several of its residents were diagnosed with the new coronavirus.
- Wood, who was one of them, was hospitalized and declined ventilation.
- When she took a turn for the worst, her family came to say goodbye. Days later, she recovered.
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On Monday, March 9, Cami Neidigh got a call from the Washington state hospital where her 90-year-old mother was being treated for the coronavirus.
She was told Geneva Wood declined ventilation and would likely die in the next 24 hours.
The next day, Neidigh and other family members suited up in protective gear to enter the room where her mom was quarantined, to say goodbye.
"That 24-hour decline was serious," Neidigh told Insider. "She was reaching out and crying for us, wanting us to come into the room. She said it was her time to go. We went into the room, she was saying her goodbyes. We were holding her hand. No hugs were allowed."
But Wood didn't die.
On Tuesday, March 24, she was released from the hospital having made an unlikely recovery from COVID-19.
Now she's back in her own home under the watch of her four children.
"She has a special recliner in her living room and she says, 'I'm drinking my coffee, in my chair, watching my TV,'" her daughter said. "She's very happy over there."
Geneva Wood had a tough few months, but she's a 'fighter'
Neidigh described her mother, a retired nurse, as a "fighter, a very determined woman."
She grew up on a dairy farm, used to work the swing shift as a nurse, and was photographed sitting on a long-horned bull at 65 years old, Neidigh said.
Up until December, she had been living in her own apartment, cooking for herself.
But the day after Christmas, she had a stroke that left her unable to walk or talk on her own.
After spending some time in a hospital, Wood moved into Life Care Center at Kirkland.
"They taught her her how to live again," Neidigh said. "She was like their star pupil."
By mid-February, Wood was ready to leave and had plans to get back in her own home by March 2.
But two days earlier, the nursing home went into lockdown after a resident died from Covid-19. Not long after, Wood, who had pneumonia, took a fall and broke her hip. She was tested for the new coronavirus at the hospital and it came back positive, Neidigh said.
At the hospital, her symptoms included shortness of breath, a cough, and a high fever.
"She refused the ventilation, the incubation," Neidigh said. "She figured at 90 years old she had lived her life. She said, 'You're not going to turn me into a vegetable, if the lord wants me to go, I'm going to go.'"
With at least 19 deaths linked to Life Care Center, at one point earlier this month the nursing home made up more than 60% of US coronavirus fatalities.
While many people who are infected with Covid-19 recover on their own and don't require hospitalisation, seniors are at a higher risk of succumbing to the illness.
"She wanted to tell us that she was proud of us, she loved us, she gave some special instructions to some of us - like be nice to your brother - and she wanted us to know she was at peace," she said. "It was a gift that we had because other families have not been able to go in."
Neidigh said the hospital has since changed their policy and families can no longer enter the rooms.
Wood credits family, God, and potato soup for her recovery
After seeing her family, Wood started to make an improvement.
After she "turned the corner," family made her potato soup, a remedy her own mother taught her to make as a child.
"When she wasn't eating, we said we could bring it up to her," Neidigh said. "We would make homemade potato soup and we would bring it to the hospital. That's what she said - it was family, God, and potato soup that got us through that."
While that might have helped, Neidigh also gives some credit for the recovery to her mother's strong upbringing.
"They always had to work hard. [She has a] very hard work ethic and a drive that you don't give up," her daughter said. "You just pull yourself up with your boot straps and get it done. There's no feeling sorry for yourself, you just do it. She should have invented the Nike logo, 'just do it'."
As a former nurse, she was also sympathetic toward the nurses at her hospital, but also let them know when she wanted something, her mother said.
"One time when she was thirsty, and pushed the call button for a Sprite, and they hadn't brought it to her, to get their attention she pressed it again, started waving, and said, "I'm not dead yet,'" Neidigh said, chuckling. "'Now, I'm thirsty, bring me a Sprite.'"
Now that Wood's out of the hospital and back at home, her sons and daughters are the ones responding to those requests.
Wood is still fragile and has some lung damage, so visits from other people have been restricted. Still, she's happy to be in her own home.
"She went straight into her apartment, sat in her chair, and asked where her coffee was," Neidigh said.
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