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A Second Chance at Life

If you love your family the way I love mine, please read this entire letter.

I was recently just inches away from losing my life and the chance to meet my first grandchild. Health Care Heroes at John Muir Health saved my life at a time when I desperately wanted to live. I will be forever grateful to those caregivers, and to you, for your generous and continued support of people and programs at John Muir Health!

When I began feeling poorly, a deep and persistent cough was worsening, keeping me awake at night, with my wife describing it as a “honking” noise. I was becoming more and more fatigued in those early days of the illness; however within a few weeks, I struggled with severe difficulty breathing.

By the time I went to JMH Urgent Care in Walnut Creek, the physicians diagnosed me with double pneumonia and I tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. I was rushed via ambulance to John Muir Health, Walnut Creek Medical Center on March 24th, but I don’t remember much of what happened during the next two weeks. 

Here’s what I’ve learned . . .  

I was placed in a medically-induced coma and needed a ventilator to help provide oxygen to my lungs. I spent five days in the Intensive Care Unit and ten days in a Negative Pressure Isolation room. While I laid there unconscious, my wife and daughters prayed that I would recover and soon be well enough to hold my grandbaby in my arms. Highly competent and compassionate John Muir Health physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists fought hard against the insidious coronavirus that was wreaking havoc on my body. And, although I didn’t know it at the time, my John Muir Health care team was working tirelessly to save me.

They were also working bravely. . . Remember that very little was known about COVID-19 when I was admitted. The care teams put themselves at risk to provide me with the very best chance of survival. My family was not allowed to visit because of pandemic restrictions, but they were kept informed about my progress every step of the way — my care team even allowed them to provide me with recordings of their voices carrying wishes of strength encouragement. This was just one of the ways the nurses and staff tried to make things a little more manageable for my wife and daughters during a very scary time.  

When I came out of the dark and into the light…

I was confused, scared, and very weak — I couldn’t get out of bed or even lift a spoon to my mouth for many weeks. I feared that I would never be able to hold my grandchild. However, when I was strong enough, I began an intense physical therapy regimen and gradually gained more strength and balance.  

Finally, on the first of May, thirty-eight days after arriving via ambulance to John Muir Health, I was discharged with a parade of pomp and circumstance! As I was wheeled through the corridors and lobbies of the medical center, I was greeted with loud applause, cheers, balloons, and signs of CONGRATULATIONS from all of my caregivers.

Deeply touched by this gesture of love, I couldn’t help but think, “I’m the one who should be applauding and cheering for all of you!” From that moment forward, I have held John Muir Health in the very highest regard and, like you, I am compelled to provide support to the extraordinary health care heroes who saved my life and who allowed me to hold my granddaughter, Isla, in my arms. (And, of course, she’s the most beautiful girl on the planet!)

As someone who lives today because of how John Muir Health cared for me in the recent past, I sincerely hope you will join me this Holiday Season by making a financial gift of gratitude to your own JMH Heroes and to the extraordinary health care system we are so fortunate to have in our community.


Timothy May

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