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Nexus Champion smiling to show his progress

Re-learning the basics: How COVID survivor James Thorne made a miraculous recovery at Nexus

James Thorne woke up at Nexus Specialty Hospital on April 14, 2021 and had no idea where he was.

Six weeks earlier he had gone to sleep at a hospital in Tomball, Texas after being admitted for COVID-19, severe COVID-induced pneumonia, and several different respiratory infections. James was put on a ventilator and after suffering a number of complications from his conditions, his medical team made the decision to put him into a medically induced coma to give him the best chance at recovery. When James failed to respond to the treatment after several weeks, his wife, Carrie, made the decision to have him moved to Nexus Specialty Hospital in The Woodlands after the facility was highly recommended to her by several contacts in Tomball.

The first step the Nexus Specialty Hospital team took to continue James’ treatment was to revive him from his minimally conscious state.

“When I woke up, I swore I had been in an explosion because I couldn’t move my hands or legs,” James said. “When I woke up, I couldn’t move anything. I had no muscle tone, I couldn’t talk — I had a trach. I couldn’t eat or drink and was totally confused where I was. It was very frustrating.”

After James was revived, his condition was still critical, and the priority turned to saving his lungs. By the time James arrived at Nexus, he had been on a ventilator for more than six weeks and was beginning to relapse in his recovery due to his weakening respiratory system and the severity of his persistent infections. His medical team knew they needed to wean him off his ventilator as soon as possible to preserve as much of his lung integrity as they could and minimize the risk of resulting neurological damage.

The respiratory department at Nexus Specialty Hospital was perhaps the best resource for James at the time, equipped with the extensive clinical expertise needed to wean him off his ventilator. Since Nexus Specialty Hospital is the first specialty hospital in Texas to deploy the HAMILTON-C6 ventilator, one of the best ventilator systems on the market, James’ medical team had the knowledge and experience required to give James the very best care in his complicated situation.

To his family’s relief, James was weaned off the ventilator in less than 2 weeks. James felt safe and calm during the process and when he was finally weaned, he said he didn’t even know he wasn’t utilizing it anymore until he had been off it for four hours.

Although James had made great progress by this point, he still had much work to do. After just a month and a half in the hospital, he had lost more than 55 pounds — most of it pure muscle tone. He could not sit up on his own and relied on Nexus nursing staff to help him regain his strength.

“The nursing team at Nexus made me feel very well taken care of. They were very attentive.” James said. “They were so friendly, and it made everything so much easier to deal with.”

James recalled how the nursing staff took great care to treat him with patience and dignity during his stay. Although he still had trouble speaking and could not move his hands to write or communicate, the nursing staff would still talk to him and engage in conversation as best they could throughout the day. They made sure James was comfortable and even packed him into bed with pillows to prevent bedsores, turning him frequently to adjust his position.

The first week of physical therapy for James was extremely challenging. “Sitting on the edge of the bed for the first time — I could barely breathe. My blood pressure dropped drastically, my heart rate shot up and I was gasping for air. It was scary and I did not expect that,” James reflected.

As the weeks went on, James progressed from being able to sit up in bed on his own, to traveling short distances in a wheelchair, to using machines in the physical therapy room to move and strengthen his arms and legs. James enjoyed the experience and after time began to look forward to his therapy sessions each day.

“The physical therapists didn’t baby me, but they were still caring,” he said. “They pushed me and were firm about what they needed me to do to get better. That’s what I needed. I owe them some BBQ.”

James was also incredibly thankful for his occupational therapists at Nexus. He recalled a feeling of helplessness as he worked to regain his strength to do things for himself again like bathe, brush his teeth, and complete tasks of daily living. He appreciated the therapists caring for him and making him comfortable throughout the therapy process as he regained his independence.

James was discharged from Nexus Specialty Hospital on June 4, 2021. He was in a wheelchair and on oxygen, an aid he will most likely rely on for the rest of his life. He completed several months of outpatient physical therapy to continue working on his balance — an area he must continue to be intentional about focusing on in his day-to-day life.

Today, James is walking on his own and back to work as a structural designer for an engineering firm. He recently bought his dream car, is driving again, and enjoying time with his family. He is looking forward to going back to Nexus Specialty Hospital to visit the staff and medical team who saved his life just a short time ago.

“I want them to see me walk in,” he said with pride. “Because I wasn’t able to walk out.”

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