FORT MYERS, Fla. — The term, "long hauler," is about someone who has had Covid-19 and survived, but has long term medical effects. Ed Knutt is a long hauler after spending the last half of 2020 bouncing between four hospitals due to Covid-19. Now recovering back at his Fort Myers home, the 59-year old said he doesn't know how he contracted the virus since he had no underlying conditions.
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Once he was well enough, Knutt learned he only had a 10 percent chance to live. He said, "They told Marti that if I lived, I'd be in a nursing home for the rest of my life."
Marti Gillen, Knutt's wife, remembered coming home one afternoon in July of 2020 and seeing her husband's purple face and he was having a hard time breathing. She drove him to the emergency room at Lee Health Park. Knutt recalled, "[I] got checked in. They shuffled her out the door and they put me in a wheelchair. Started wheeling me towards the entrance of the emergency room and I blacked out or passed out. And the next thing I remember, it's two and a half months later."
Gillen realized the danger Knutt was in when medical staff needed to ventilate him. She said, "I was expecting every day, to get that call from the hospital, saying that he died, or to come in and say goodbye to him."
Dr. Bryant Le Vuong, Medical Director of the Rehabilitation Hospital at Lee Health, said, "Mr. Knutt suffered from one of the most complex and worst cases of COVID-19 diseases that I have seen."
Among the traumatic events were two comas, cardiac arrest, pulmonary failure, neurological disorder, low platelet count, and bedsores requiring surgery.
The cardiac arrest happened between the two comas. At one point, he was also transferred to Orlando for ECMO treatment for his weakened lungs. Knutt remembered slipping into the second coma. He said, "I got to a point where I was done. I don't want to do it anymore. I just said, 'God, take me.' "
Knutt did come out of it, but 65 pounds lighter and not sure if he could even walk again. He said, "I had no use of my legs. I got what they call drop foot on my left foot, which means I cannot raise my foot."
Knutt said rehabilitation was one of the toughest challenges but said he's thankful. He said, "The physical therapist, the occupational therapist at Health Park. Those two gals there. They're my saviors. They pushed hard."
The avid golfer said his outlook on life is different after the ordeal, and that he doesn't take life for granted anymore.
Knutt has also changed his viewpoint on wearing a mask. He said, "For me, being one of the naysayers, to begin with, I'm no longer a naysayer. I don't care what anybody says. I walk out of the doctor's office yesterday, and the lady wasn't wearing a mask and just being a bold person anyway, I said, 'Where the hell is your mask.?' I don't play anymore. If you're not wearing a mask, I'm going to say something. Because that mask is not for you, it's for me. My mask is for you, it's not for me."