Pooler dad, coach taken by COVID-19 – News – Bluffton Today

Jim Shinn was a dad, a husband, a coach. He was additionally among the many first to die from COVID-19 in Chatham County.

His spouse, Leslie, additionally contracted the virus however survived.

After they felt their first signs shortly after St. Patrick’s Day, fewer than 300 identified instances had been confirmed in Georgia and none in Chatham. The illness didn’t even appear to be a chance to them.

“COVID would not occur to us,” Leslie Shinn remembers considering. “You recognize, I am saying someone else will get COVID; we do not get COVID.”

However they did.

Jim was a divorced father of three in his mid-30s when 27-year-old Leslie Clifton first spied him at a YMCA grownup volleyball league in Augusta in 1998.

Leslie, an industrial engineer with a level from Georgia Tech, thought he was cute. However there was an issue.

“He is sporting zebra pants,” Leslie mentioned throughout an interview within the yard of her Pooler house April 22. ”Identical to the MC Hammer zebras, and I am like, ’No method.’”

However Jim was humorous and type. A weekend dad, he doted on his three younger kids.

“Me and Jim are simply an excellent match,” Leslie mentioned, nonetheless utilizing the current tense. “We each love athletics. We each work onerous. I noticed how he was together with his children. And you recognize, I needed that for a household.“

“No method” yielded rapidly to “I do.” They married in October 1999. In 2007, they moved with their two younger daughters to Pooler to assist run Metal Erectors, the enterprise began by Leslie’s grandfather.

Leslie’s household lives close by. She works together with her sister at Metal Erectors. Jim labored as a mission supervisor and estimator at Delta Metals.

Life was good and full.

Morgan, 17, is a senior at Savannah Christian. Her little sister Anna, 13, is an eighth-grader. The “massive children” are on their very own. Older daughters Jessica and Alicia are married. Alicia’s son Braxton, 3, loves his “Lolly and Pop” in Savannah. Son Jarrod is within the navy.

Earlier this 12 months, when daughter Morgan heard that her Birmingham-born, Alabama football-obsessed dad’s favourite band was enjoying on the Civic Heart, she urged her mother and father to go. On the March 7 Lynyrd Skynyrd live performance, Leslie remembers watching her husband sing alongside to “Easy Man,” a couple of mom’s recommendation to her son.

“It is principally you recognize, his mother telling him how you can be. You recognize, you’ve acquired Jesus, you’ve got acquired onerous work, you have to choose a great lady, you gotta handle your self, handle your loved ones, and it is like, be a easy man,” she mentioned. “And that was simply Jim.”

Course of sickness

Eleven days later, on the day after St. Patrick’s, Jim began feeling sick with what he thought was a sinus an infection. On March 19, he went to their household physician.

At that time, Leslie’s predominant COVID-19 thought was that possibly Savannah had overreacted in canceling the St. Patrick’s parade.

Jim’s grownup kids had visited the weekend earlier than, like they do that point of 12 months. They went downtown and out to dinner. The one factor that felt off was the dearth of crowds.

On that first journey to the physician, Jim didn’t qualify for COVID-19 testing. He hadn’t traveled wherever, hadn’t been in touch with anybody identified to have the virus. His physician gave him steroids and an antibiotic.

By the night of March 19, he was feeling good. The steroid had eased the accrued ache from a lifetime of sports activities and Military accidents.

“And so he goes, I am going {golfing},” Leslie mentioned. “I used to be like, I suppose you do not have a fever, you are feeling advantageous. You recognize, it was a sinus an infection.”

However that very same night Leslie began to really feel dangerous. On March 21, Jim known as her from the golf course and requested if she wanted him to take her to the physician.

“Nicely, I could not even suppose to reply the query,” Leslie mentioned, remembering her mind fog. “I mentioned, I am undecided.”

Involved together with her confusion, Jim took her to the close by St. Joseph’s/Candler Pressing Care Heart, the place well being care staff requested the identical COVID-19 screening questions. Leslie answered no to all of them. Even with fever, exhaustion and mind fog, she didn’t meet the factors at that time, when checks had been reserved for hospitalized sufferers and well being care staff. She was handled with a steroid pack for what the physician thought was flu.

Over the course of the subsequent few days, Leslie and Jim seesawed up and down. When Jim spiked a fever, Leslie reasoned he had caught no matter flu virus she had.

Morgan, nevertheless, was excited about COVID-19. She introduced her dad Gatorade on the hour, urging him to remain hydrated. She made cheese sandwiches to get the usually strong eater to nibble on one thing.

She begged him to go to the physician. When that didn’t work, she known as the physician herself and cried over the telephone.

“My dad the entire time mentioned, ‘I am advantageous, I am advantageous,’” Morgan mentioned. “‘I need not go. I really feel fully OK.’ However he couldn’t rise up out of his chair to stroll 5 toes.”

His coughing suits choked him.

Sooner or later, each Leslie and Jim misplaced their sense of style.

“Nothing was enjoyable, such as you could not eat a Snickers and it was undoubtedly not satisfying,” Leslie mentioned. Already on Weight Watchers, Jim misplaced one other 15 kilos and Leslie misplaced eight.

The exhaustion felt like gravity had intensified, Leslie mentioned. “It was like I ran a marathon and have not slept in per week after which I went via childbirth.”

She felt chills and fever and an achiness like “the flu occasions 40.”

On that Friday, March 27, Leslie felt her personal respiratory wasn’t proper. She known as the pressing care at 4:50 p.m. When the workplace couldn’t assure it will nonetheless be open if she acquired there after 5 p.m., Leslie misplaced it.

Jim wobbled from his lounge sickbed to their bed room to consolation her. Holding her hand, he fell asleep instantly.

“So I began crying first,” Leslie mentioned. “We did not wish to go to the ER, as a result of we thought we’d get COVID there. Hey!” she mentioned. “It was nonetheless not in my head that we may have COVID. Actually simply not there.“

She spent Saturday attempting to persuade Jim to return to the physician, finally enlisting all 5 children and her mother to nag him. He relented.

On March 29, they returned to the pressing care. Referred to as to the examination room collectively, the normally clean-shaven Jim, now with a two-week beard, nonetheless minded his manners.

“The humorous factor is, he goes and he waits and holds the door for me,” Leslie mentioned.

Jim was even sicker than he seemed. Leslie’s blood oxygen ranges had been regular, however Jim’s had dipped.

“After they did his oxygen on his finger, I knew one thing was flawed. After they did it, they began shaking his finger to see and so they’re like, ‘Let’s do your different hand.’ I am like, ‘Oh, no.’ So it was about 78% oxygen.”

A respiratory remedy and oxygen pushed it up solely barely, to 80%. The physician known as an ambulance to take him to Memorial College Medical Heart.


Morgan, who had dropped her mother and father off on the pressing care, got here again together with her dad’s telephone so he may talk from the hospital. In opposition to medical recommendation, she kissed him.

“Yeah, that is what he all the time did to me each night time,” she mentioned. “He would give me a kiss on my brow and say I like you. And candy desires.”

Leslie reassured Jim he can be OK.

“This isn’t what is going on to get you,” she advised him. ”I mentioned, ‘You’ve got been via an excessive amount of in your life.’

“He is been abroad within the navy. He is had surgical procedures for this and that and I mentioned, ‘A shark is gonna chew you. That is what’s gonna occur, you recognize, not this, is not it?’”

However she couldn’t go to the ER with him.

The night time earlier than Jim was hospitalized, after they had been each house and at their sickest, they’d heard a whistling sound from an incubator the place Jim, the household’s “duck daddy,” was coaxing 53 duck eggs from the flooded entrance yard pond to hatch. Solely three did. However child geese are messy and needy. Their timing was horrible.

“I mentioned quite a lot of dangerous phrases,” Leslie recalled.

With Jim within the ER, she texted him in regards to the ducklings, asking what sort of meals to get them.

“I don’t even know,” he texted again, struggling to suppose straight.

Later she realized that he had argued with an ER nurse that he didn’t must be there. However together with his spouse, Jim was trustworthy.

“I’m scared,” he texted.

“That was my final textual content from him,” Leslie mentioned.

Studying lacrosse

Scared wasn’t Jim’s typical M.O.

“He’s not a scared particular person,” Leslie mentioned. “He is navy. He’ll go into something. If somebody broke into this home, I really feel sorry for him as a result of they might be happening in like seven other ways.

“You do not mess together with his children. He’ll tear you up.”

Jim coached his youthful daughters’ sports activities groups — basketball, soccer, softball — virtually year-round from the time Morgan was about 5. He coached each Pooler rec leagues and a few highschool, as nicely.

As a freshman, Morgan broke Jim’s coronary heart by giving up soccer in favor of lacrosse. However then Jim threw himself into studying this new sport.

“We might come out right here and he would observe with a man stick that we acquired at a storage sale and he would simply throw the ball with me,“ Morgan mentioned. ”He would come out to each observe and watch and learn the way we had been doing like holding every little thing and taking pictures.“

Finally he acquired a brand new catch phrase from the game: “He’d say, ‘Any time you’ll be able to hit someone with a stick, it is a good day,’” Leslie mentioned.

Youngsters responded to teach Jim’s booming voice.

“I’d simply say, you recognize, my husband’s extraordinarily loud, he is not yelling at them. He is yelling for them,” Leslie mentioned.

Younger athletes relished his encouragement. Leslie recalled how one lady desirous to make the group at Savannah Christian as soon as mentioned, “I am unable to await coach Jim to yell at me like that.”

On the hospital

Alone on the ER, Jim spoke with Leslie as soon as by telephone. He was struggling to know what was taking place.

“I simply do not know what’s going on,” Leslie recalled him saying. “I might ask a query, he could not get the reply.”

Makes an attempt to get his oxygen up failed. Later that night time, he was intubated and placed on a respirator.

Now Leslie was scared, too.

“That hit me onerous as a result of on all of the information you recognize that the extreme folks get your personal respirators,“ she mentioned. ”And so he was sedated. He was put right into a medically induced coma.“

At first he improved. They dropped the sedation and he was in a position to reply with a thumbs as much as nurses. Nonetheless intubated, he couldn’t communicate.

Leslie was examined for COVID on that Monday, March 30.

Two days later she realized she was constructive. Jim’s first take a look at got here again damaging. A second take a look at was inconclusive. However his third take a look at was constructive for COVID-19.

Leslie posted Jim’s progress and setbacks on Fb. The neighborhood, together with buddies from Compassion Christian Church and Savannah Christian Preparatory College, responded with prayers and nicely needs and extra meals than they may eat, delivered to the remoted and quarantined mother and her women at their Pooler house.

Leslie known as the intensive care unit twice a day at scheduled occasions to get updates. On the board in his room, nurses wrote his children’ names and “Roll Tide.”

On the time, Memorial was treating 17 sufferers within the ICU, about two-thirds of them COVID-19 sufferers. Medical workers had been studying as they went, they advised her, together with attempting Jim on the mixture of hydroxychloroquine and an antibiotic.

Memorial’s Dr. Carlton Kemp advised her to count on ups and downs. Jim’s kidney operate decreased and so they put him on dialysis. Then Leslie acquired a telephone name after midnight April 7. Jim’s oxygen had dipped to 53%.

Leslie, who by then had recovered sufficient that she may stroll to the top of the driveway, stayed up all night time.

Within the morning she advised the children.

“And at that time, we nonetheless cannot hug,” Leslie mentioned. She was nonetheless imagined to keep away from the ladies due to her COVID-19 standing.

However confronted with a crying 13-year-old who was her dad’s little buddy, a woman who accompanied him every week to assist with baptisms at church, who went to Alabama video games with him, Leslie ignored that warning.

They hugged.

Later that morning Jim rebounded, together with his oxygen again as much as 88%.

“Don’t take your foot off the ’prayer pedal,’” Leslie posted on Fb on April 7. “This illness is up and down for all sufferers. Keep house. You possibly can’t go to your family members. You possibly can’t inform them it is going to be OK.“

Staying away from Jim was insufferable.

“You possibly can’t sit by their mattress, maintain their hand and say, ‘We’re right here,’” Leslie mentioned. “‘We’re combating with you.’ You possibly can’t do any of that.”

Leslie couldn’t be comforted both.

“A tragic, unhappy, unhappy, brutally unhappy, a part of that is no one may come see her,” mentioned senior pastor Cam Huxford of Compassion Christian Church. “She actually was in isolation as a result of she had the virus.”

On April 8, determined to speak their like to Jim, the household arrange a WebEx name and spoke to him via the intercom. It will be the final time he heard their voices.

That Thursday night time, April 9, Leslie went to mattress hopeful. His oxygen ranges had been up, and so they had drained some extra fluids from him.

At 12:45 a.m., although, her telephone rang.

Jim had handed away.

Within the state’s itemizing of COVID-19 deaths, there’s a 57-year-old male with an underlying situation from Chatham County. That’s Jim. He had a gentle coronary heart assault about 4 years in the past and had a stent implanted, however was in any other case wholesome, Leslie mentioned.

The women by no means confirmed any indicators of COVID-19 and haven’t been examined. They plan to be examined for antibodies when that testing is obtainable. Leslie wish to donate her plasma if it may assist somebody recuperate from COVID-19.

On April 16, the Shinns buried Jim at Westside Memorial Gardens with solely household attending. A public celebration of his life is deliberate however not but scheduled. However Leslie declared the Friday he was buried “Put on Crimson Day.” Buddies, schoolmates and the church household went one higher and lined the drive into the cemetery, many sporting Alabama gear.

The household improvised a flag ceremony for Jim, an Military veteran.

And for this man who cherished his household and sports activities and helped baptize others, the music was a simple alternative.

They performed “Easy Man.”

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