Neil Wagoner’s Experience with Covid-19

Madeline Nelsen

Many people have suffered from the Covid-19 pandemic. Neil Wagoner, a HSE social studies teacher, had an experience that was unforgettable. Wagoner had a serious case of Covid-19 that caused him to be hospitalized for almost three weeks. Since being diagnosed back in November, he has had time to reflect on his experience.

Wagoner had a serious headache, which lead to the recommendation of a Covid test. When he found out he had been diagnosed with Covid-19, he thought he could suffer from his house.  Within a couple of days he found himself in the hospital. Wagoner started off in just the regular observation room, but before long he was moved to the progressive care unit and from there on to Intensive Care Unit where he spent almost two weeks.

“I wasn’t allowed to get out of the bed in the hospital, and the nurses are quite restricted on how much time they are allowed to spend in the Covid patient rooms,” Wagoner said. “I still had many wonderful conversations with them.”

His experience in the hospital was very isolating. Moving room to room probably did not help. His communication with the hospital staff was limited, although he was able to talk to his wife and son several times a day. He received daily calls from his cousin and numerous e-mails, cards, and Facebook posts from friends and colleagues. These actions must have made him feel less alone.

“It took me a while to get my breathing back to a normal level. I would get winded easily, and I still do if I push too hard to try to climb too many stairs,” Wagoner said. “There is also a bit of fatigue and “brain-fog” that slows me down, though the doctors say that is normal and will go away with time.”

Covid-19 is not a joke. Some cases are mild and do not have any extreme affects. Wagoner is still working through symptoms that affect him even now. After being released from the hospital, Wagoner took everything one step at a time. He is slowly gaining back his strength that the Covid-19 virus had taken away from him.

“I was quite moved by the students and staff who created Flipgrid video messages for me, and I was extremely touched to the point of tears by the HSE Orchestra’s performance of “Believe,” which they dedicated to me,” Wagoner said. “I was also extremely honored to have the HSEA teacher’s union under the leadership of Ms. Chandler sponsor a blood and plasma drive in my honor that will literally help save hundreds of lives.”

One thing that kept Wagoner’s spirits high was the support that he was given through his experience. The flood of good that came in from the school and community was massive. The encouraging videos students made were sent to Wagoner while he was still in the hospital. The blood and plasma drive was a success because it raised awareness and saved many lives. The drive was so special to Wagoner because he knew first-hand how important the donations were and still are.

“Most importantly, take the time to appreciate all of the people in your life,” Wagoner said. “They may irritate you sometimes, but they are also the best thing about living and the one thing that can never be replaced once they are gone.”

There are changes in life that can happen suddenly. Going through this experience has emphasized a number of things for Wagoner. He has great appreciation for the support that was shown by his family, HSE faculty, and his students. He feels strongly about taking Covid-19 seriously and following the correct precautions. He expresses gratitude for the people in his life. Story by Madeline Nelsen