Spokane Valley man lives with lifelong after-effects of COVID-19 after 30 day battle

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — Every single moment spent in the hospital fighting COVID is written down in Kevin Keller’s notepad. But living through those moments isn’t easy.

“Today is a good day. I’m upright, I’m awake,” Keller said.

He has fought sarcoidosis, a condition that has affected his lungs for the past half a decade.

An underlying condition, it’s what kept him home during the pandemic for almost a year.

“It’s like two weeks before I contracted it, I thought wow this is great, I made it this long. I didn’t drop my guard, I relaxed, you know I thought ‘phew, maybe I’m going to get past this,'” he said.

He was vaccine and COVID-hesitant back in January.

“I was on the fence about it but that first week, being in the hospital of course, it changed everything,” Keller said.

He spent 30 days at Providence Sacred Heart Hospital fighting for his life.

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“I was given a 25 percent chance of survival if I intubated and only a 50 percent chance when I didn’t intubate,” he said.

He ultimately chose not to intubate.

“I’d finally buzzed for the nurse to come in and told them, I do not want to intubate. And that in itself was the start of a battle, a serious battle,” he said.

During that battle, Keller only had 15 minutes to say goodbye to his wife before she had to leave the ICU.

“I’ll remember to this day and I will always remember it, once I had accepted that and ready to move on, I turned for the better,” Keller said.

Keller left Providence in February, but even today his life has dramatically changed because of his battle with COVID-19.

“I’m going to be on oxygen for the rest of my life and that’s okay. I can handle that. I can do that. I just can’t do the things I used to do, you know, I can’t work out in the real world right now, and that’s okay,” he said. “You know, I woke up, I mean you know, by the grace of god I was granted a second chance.”

It’s a second chance he fought for and one he hopes others learn from.

“The pains that I went through were astronomical, I don’t wish them upon anything, please, get the vaccine,” he said.

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Keller wishes he had been more vigilant back in January. He still has other lingering effects, like muscle deterioration forcing him to use a cane or a walker when he goes on long walks.

“I had quite a few side effects, still do, I had to learn to write again, and at times I still struggle with writing,” Keller said. “The nerves in the left hand, I still have to hold my left hand to keep it from shaking, so I can write correctly. Other times I do fine…memory is an issue, still working on that.”

He and his wife did get vaccinated.

Today, he doesn’t allow anyone who isn’t vaccinated to come inside his home, and those who are vaccinated have to wear masks. He explained he doesn’t want anyone playing “Russian Roulette” on his life again.

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