KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knoxville pastor is praising God and his doctors after nearly dying from complications of a long-term side effect from COVID-19.
Months after COVID-19 patients recovered, some reported lasting side effects of the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For some, it could be a lost sense of taste for a few months, or not gaining their full energy back.
6 On Your Side talked with Michael Napier back in Oct. 2020 when he survived a tough battle of COVID-19. He was in the hospital and in-patient rehabilitation from Sept. 18 through Oct. 7.
Napier was put on a ventilator, and his wife Linda was told there was a good chance he wouldn’t survive.
“I asked (the doctor) what kind of chance he had, and she said, ‘it doesn’t look good.’ And I just knew I was going to end up being a widow,” Linda Napier said.
Michael Napier and his family praised God, saying it was a miracle he was alive. He had to go through physical therapy to learn how to walk again, and he was on blood thinners. He said the doctors told him he only needed to take them for a few months.
“I had some blood clots in my legs but they said it wasn’t deep vein thrombosis, and because of that, I could probably come off of it,” Michael Napier said.
He said a week after he was off the blood thinner medication, he woke up in the middle of the night dizzy, nauseous and with a bad headache. His wife tried to help relieve the pain with some medication.
“I tried to give him some Tylenol, and when we went to take a sip of the drink I gave him to wash it down, he, it went to the side instead of, you know, to the mouth and I knew something was wrong,” Linda Napier said.
She immediately called 911 after that, and within minutes, an ambulance arrived to take him to the hospital. Later, the family said, doctors gave them the diagnosis: he had a stroke.
“I suffered a, in their terminology, a massive stroke,” Michael Napier said.
Linda Napier said he was doing fine at first. She said the doctors told her the third day is usually the make it or break it point after a stroke.
“They said he was going to keep an eye on him for five days. And then two days after that third day is when he started, digressing I guess you would say,” Linda Napier said.
She said her husband started to talk, but wasn’t making any sense. He was saying there were bees in the room trying to sting them.
At that point, she said, the doctors had to release the pressure from the swelling in his brain caused by the stroke.
“It affected by brain. They had to cut part of my skull out to relieve the pressure on my brain and put a filter in my stomach to try to stop the blood clots. I had multiple blood clots,” Michael Napier said.
He went to the hospital on March 13. By March 19 Michael Napier was in urgent need of that surgery, according to his daughter’s treatment notes, and was placed in an induced coma and put on a ventilator.
On March 24, Linda Napier said the doctors told her family that her husband was most likely brain dead. He wasn’t responding to pain, touch or communication. They said the doctor then told them that he could count one hand how many times someone survives the kind of stroke he had.
At that point, the family had to make a decision.
“They called my family in and asked them to make a choice about disconnected me from life support. They said that I would be a vegetable for the rest of my life, that it would destroy my brain,” Michael Napier said.
Linda Napier said she knew her husband didn’t want to live in that state. So, as a family, they decided to pull him off life support. “The doctor said that he would be shocked if he came out of it, and I told him, I said, ‘you’re going to be shocked.”
The family said they were told Michael Napier most likely wasn’t going to make it more than 12 hours after he was off life support. But, a few hours later, a miracle happened. Michael began to make movements on his own.
“God wasn’t ready to take him yet,” Linda Napier said.
Michael Napier was in the hospital for a couple of weeks before going to in-patient rehabilitation. He and his family couldn’t praise the Lord enough for saving his life.
“I don’t want to take away anything that the professionals did. The medical professionals were tremendous. The nurses and doctors, I believe that God used them to do a tremendous work in my life,” Michael Napier said.
Napier said he knew the whole time God was with him and looking over him. He remembered seeing bees, and was later told that his family and friends continuously read Pslam 118, which reads ‘they surrounded me like bees.’ Michael Napier said he knew he survived so he could tell his story.
“I’m grateful to have the opportunity to give Him glory today,” he said. “I pray that through this story that somebody would draw close to him.”
Even though he had to learn to walk again, he would never take that for granted again.
“Here I felt cheated that I had to again learn to walk again. But the Lord reminded me that he gave me the chance,” he said.
Linda Napier said she couldn’t be more amazed by the work of the Lord with her husband.
“God’s just been amazing. They thought he would be paralyzed at least on his left side. He’s not. They thought he would have some cognitive issues. He doesn’t,” she said.
Michael Napier will need to remain on blood thinners for the rest of his life, but it’s a small price to pay to be alive and share his story of God to others.