When Steven Adkins started experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 in mid-March, he never thought the virus would land him in the intensive care unit.
"I thought I was going to beat it easy," said Adkins. "It did not really turn out that way. It was a bit of a shock that I got as sick as I got."
Adkins, a 67-year-old realtor and avid sailor from Madison, was tested for the novel coronavirus March 17. The next day, he experienced shortness of breath and was told by his primary care physician to go to the hospital.
His wife, Rita, dropped him off at the emergency department. Neither knew that Rita would not be allowed inside and that it would be the last time they saw each other for nearly two weeks.
"I just cried all the way home," said Rita Adkins. "Because I did not know if I would ever see him again."
Adkins was admitted to Yale New Haven Hospital and spent the next 13 days there, battling against COVID-19 which caused pneumonia.
While Adkins was fighting in a hospital bed, Rita received news that she had also tested positive. She was able to self-quarantine at home and did not require a hospital stay.
Adkins said that the first several days of his stay at YNHH were some of his darkest days.
He started posting a daily journal on Facebook to update his family members. Adkins wrote that he suffered from painful headaches, a cough that kept him up most nights and fatigue that left him unable to stand. His peak fever reached above 103 degrees, according to Adkins.
"That was the realization that something really has infected my lungs," said Adkins. "And that is scary to the point where I am like, am I ever coming back? Am I ever going to be 100% again?"
Several days into his hospital stay, Adkins was transferred to the intensive care unit. He stayed in the ICU for five days, was able to stay off a ventilator and was discharged on March 31.
Steve and Rita are both at home recovering, taking it day-by-day. They both said that they still get tired very easily, but are excited to get out of quarantine soon and get back to normal.
"We are not out in public yet, but I am going there," said Adkins. "I am going to be out in a couple of weeks."
Adkins said that he is eager to learn about ways that he can help other people suffering from COVID-19, pending his doctor's approval. He also wants people to know that everyone should take the virus seriously and stay at home, no matter how healthy they think they are.
"I thought that too. I said, 'I will beat it and then I will be good, I will be healthy,' I cannot recommend that," said Adkins. "I almost died from it."
While Adkins does not know how or when he contracted the virus, he does give credit to his family and friends who reached out on social media, responding to his daily journals, for getting him through.
"That really saved me. I cannot thank my friends and family for all of their support. That brought me out of some dark, dark places," said Adkins. "Don’t hesitate. If you know someone who is sick, tell them they are going to make it."
"It really helps," added Rita.