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Ken OR Children's Wisconsin

Why Ken feels blessed to get the COVID-19 vaccine

Ken and CharitaThree weeks before I ended up in the hospital with COVID-19, my youngest grandchild was born. A baby girl named NY'Elle who I almost never got to meet. She has been an incredible gift to me and my family, and I’d do anything to keep her safe. She’s one of the many reasons I got the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as I could. I hope when you hear my story, you’ll decide to get yours, too.

It was March of 2020 and the pandemic was in its very early stages. I went to work that day feeling groggy and came home with a fever of nearly 102. Not even 10 minutes after I went to bed, I woke up feeling like I couldn’t breathe. I had to go to the hospital alone because visitors weren’t allowed at that time. The last thing I remember is calling my wife of 27 years, Charita, and my mother, telling them I was being taken to the ICU.

The next time I spoke to my wife was in April. It was over the phone and here’s how our conversation went:

Charita: Do you know how long you’ve been in there?

Me: An hour?

Charita: No, longer.

Me: A day, maybe two?

Charita: No, you’ve been in there a month, Ken.

A month?! My heart sank and I started to cry. It was unbelievable to me. Not only was I on a ventilator for that long, but my wife told me they had to bring me back three times after my heart stopped. This was the first time Charita and I had been apart in 25 years, and the virus almost took me from her — from my family — forever.

After I left the hospital, I went to rehab for three weeks to learn how to do just about everything again — eating, walking, etc. I was able to go back to work in December of last year, but I’m still feeling the effects of this virus. I have body aches and I feel exhausted all the time. I’m probably only at 75 percent of what I was before I got COVID-19. And yet, I feel blessed.

I’m blessed because I get to be with my wife and family and make more memories with them. I’m blessed because I was able to get the COVID-19 vaccine that will help ensure this virus never puts me in that place again. And I’m blessed because as an employee of Children’s Wisconsin, I get to play a part in making sure our little ones, like my granddaughter, get the safest and best care possible. And since they still aren’t old enough to get vaccinated, it’s our responsibility as the grownups in their lives to do everything we can to protect them. If nothing else, we should do it for them.

I know some people haven’t gotten vaccinated because they’re scared. But I want to tell them that nothing is scarier than what this virus already put me through. More than 4 billion doses of the vaccine have been given to people all over the world and the evidence shows it’s safe. I hope my story motivates you to get your vaccine as soon as possible. Your life, and the people you love, are worth it.