SC dad welcomed home after 5 months hospitalized from COVID

Chad Hardee climbs the steps into his residence on Friday with the assistance of his father Samual Hardee. After practically six months of hospitalization, his physique ravaged by COVID-19, Chad Hardee lastly returned residence to his household. His continued restoration from the virus has been referred to as a miracle by his household and pals. Might 28, 2021.


Chad Hardee thought COVID-19 can be one thing just like the flu. As an alternative, it ravaged his physique. Now, virtually six months after his preliminary optimistic take a look at, he arrived residence once more.

Cheering workers lined a hospital hallway as Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” blasted over the audio system. Chad Hardee, the underside half of his face hidden below a masks, wheeled out of the hospital doorways, the place a white stretch limo greeted him.

Teary-eyed household and pals clapped. Whoops and shouts of “coming residence!” rivaled the music coming from contained in the hospital. Hardee stood up from the wheelchair and walked himself into the again of the limo, maybe a few of the most significant steps he would ever take.

Half an hour later, Hardee’s yard was dotted with indicators, balloons, household and pals able to welcome him again to his Conway residence, a scene that was as soon as just about inconceivable as Hardee’s well being grew worse earlier than it bought higher.

Then the limo turned onto his road. Hardee was residence.

Household and pals maintain indicators celebrating Chad Hardee’s return residence after practically six months of hospitalization. His continued restoration from the virus has been referred to as a miracle by his household and pals. Might 28, 2021. JASON LEE

“We rode residence in that limo, he’d by no means been in a limo earlier than,” Hardee’s spouse Jean Marie mentioned. “It was like, is that this actually occurring? After 5 months? Anyone pinch me.”

Along with his dad by his aspect and a assist belt round his waist, Hardee gingerly approached his home. Clapping household and pals surrounded him, however his gaze mounted on the six steps main as much as his again door.

To him, these steps might as properly have been Mount Everest.

One cautious step at a time, Hardee climbed his again steps Friday for the primary time since January, when he was lower than two weeks into his bout with COVID-19.

It took practically six months in a hospital mattress, 4 totally different healthcare amenities and a bunch of medical issues, however lastly, he was again.

Chad Hardee is led up the steps into his residence by his father Samuel Hardee as he returns residence after practically six months of hospitalization on Friday. His continued restoration from COVID Pneumonia has been referred to as a miracle by his household and pals. Might 28, 2021. JASON LEE

“He’s a miracle,” mentioned Sammy Gore, Hardee’s good friend and neighbor. “There’s no rationalization how or why he ought to nonetheless be alive.”

At 47 years outdated and in good well being, Hardee didn’t know the way a lot the virus would take from him. Hardee was in a medically induced coma for weeks and closely sedated for the higher a part of three months. He missed his spouse and their three children, he missed holidays and birthdays, he missed cookouts together with his neighbors.

He has no reminiscence of the worst of it.

“I wakened right here, and I assumed it was nonetheless January,” Hardee mentioned at Vibra Hospital of Charleston after spending time in three totally different medical models.

It was April.

In a submitted picture, Chad Hardee lay in a hospital mattress affected by COVID Pneumonia. February 3, 2021. Jean Marie Hardee

‘If you don’t do that, you’ll die’

These near Hardee are glad he doesn’t bear in mind these brutal months, however it’s a time that shall be completely etched into their very own recollections.

Hardee, who works on the state division of transportation in Georgetown, first examined optimistic for the virus January 6, and fewer than two weeks later, he was within the hospital. However he doesn’t bear in mind getting there.

Hardee’s oxygen ranges had been alarmingly low, hovering round 80%. As a nurse, Jean Marie Hardee knew {that a} wholesome degree was 95% or larger, and she or he began to fret. She requested him some questions, however the solutions solely involved her extra.

Hardee didn’t know the place he was. He didn’t know his spouse’s identify or his dad’s identify. He has no reminiscence of the ambulance journey, solely preventing the medical workers who wished to place him on a ventilator, and asking them to vow him he’d get up.

“[They] mentioned, ‘If you don’t do that, you’ll die,’” Hardee mentioned concerning the ventilator.

In a submitted picture, Chad Hardee will get to see his daughter Ava in individual after practically 4 months of struggling with COVID-19 issues. April 9, 2021. Jean Marie Hardee

After initially being hospitalized at Conway Medical Middle, Hardee was moved to the Medical College of South Carolina in Charleston, the place he stayed within the COVID-19 unit till early March.

As a consequence of hospital security precautions, Hardee’s solely communication together with his household was by FaceTime and cellphone calls till he was moved from the COVID-19 unit to the medical intensive care unit.

“I didn’t know if he heard me or not,” Jean Marie Hardee mentioned. “However heck, it made me really feel higher simply to speak to him.”

‘We had been scared Chad wasn’t going to make it’

The virus ravaged his physique, sparking a pneumonia an infection that spurred additional issues, together with two small strokes. Hardee’s case puzzled docs, and the potential for his restoration began appearing bleak.

As soon as bodily match and devoid of main well being points, Hardee failed to take a seat on the sting of his mattress with out assist. Nurses and aides assisted him with once-mundane on a regular basis duties like bathing and getting dressed.

“We had been scared Chad wasn’t going to make it,” Hardee’s mother Sandra mentioned. “One time, [the doctors] mentioned ‘We’ve carried out all the things we will do, we’ve tried all the things we’ve bought. Now it’s as much as Chad.’”

Hardee’s dad, Samuel Hardee, added: “The youngsters are presupposed to bury the dad and mom, the dad and mom ain’t presupposed to bury the children.”

These days are gone now, hopefully for good.

In a submitted picture, Chad Hardee waves to pals in his first day again in common garments. Might 3, 2021. Jean Marie Hardee

In the future in late February, Hardee moved his toes, and the course of his restoration modified.

That was the signal his household and medical group wanted — it meant he may take heed to, comprehend and execute what the nurses requested of him.

“All these nurses in there, they had been leaping up and down,” Jean Marie Hardee mentioned, including that her husband doesn’t bear in mind this breakthrough second. “It was like a celebration as a result of he was responding to instructions.”

From there, Hardee’s situation improved. He was transferred from MUSC to Vibra Hospital of Charleston, and by the point he was moved to Tidelands Well being Rehabilitation Hospital, he started to revive his energy.

Gone was the ventilator, changed by Hardee’s personal energy. Gone had been the chest tubes as soon as essential to empty fluid from his physique. Gone was the feeding tube. And eventually, gone was the wheelchair, changed by a walker and at last, following intense bodily remedy, Hardee was strolling on his personal as soon as once more.

Chad Hardee practices strolling up and down steps at Tidelands Well being Rehabilitation Hospital at Little River together with his Bodily Remedy Assistant and neighbor Kristin Mills in hopes of having the ability to climb into his home below his personal energy . Might 20, 2021. JASON LEE

The bodily remedy was grueling and irritating at occasions. Nevertheless it allowed Hardee to get residence as quickly as potential, and to him, that made the work value it.

“You see the progress you’ve made, simply that at some point,” Hardee mentioned. “Then it’s like, I ponder what I can do tomorrow.”

‘A affected person like Chad renews your hope’

In the meantime, individuals throughout Horry County and across the nation had been monitoring his progress — individuals Hardee didn’t even know.

Jean Marie Hardee posted detailed updates on Fb a number of days every week, and a loyal band of supporters adopted, leaving feedback with prayers, properly needs and coronary heart emojis.

To the Hardees, Horry County is residence, and has been for generations. A number of months into Hardee’s coronavirus struggle, his kinfolk may barely exit in public with out individuals asking about his progress and wishing him properly. If a stranger on the gasoline station or grocery retailer asks Samuel Hardee how his son is doing, chances are high he’ll allow them to test in with Hardee themselves.

“My dad [says] ‘Right here, discuss to him,’” Hardee mentioned. “And random individuals simply name my cellphone: ‘I simply wish to name and test on you.’”

Hardee’s interior circle attributes his restoration largely to 2 issues: individuals and prayer. The household can checklist quite a few church buildings within the space and even in different states which have devoted prayers to Hardee, and his hospital room was full of playing cards and letters expressing properly needs for his restoration.

Information of Hardee’s “miracle” case had unfold. By the point he moved to Vibra, docs had turn into involved in him and his case. He mentioned docs who had learn his file determined to return see him and his progress for themselves.

Hardee grew to become an emblem of hope in opposition to a grim backdrop of the pandemic as a complete. In Horry County alone, greater than 450 individuals have died of the virus and practically 29,500 circumstances have been reported for the reason that starting of the pandemic, in response to the S.C. Division of Well being and Environmental Management.

“It virtually is a cliche, how exhausted the healthcare subject is, it’s so true,” mentioned Dr. Lisa Smaldone, medical director at Tidelands’ rehab facility. “Having a affected person like Chad, simply renews your hope that not all is misplaced and that what we do actually does make a distinction.”

Chad Hardee and spouse Jean Marie Hardee recount their ordeal with COVID-19 whereas recovering at Tidelands Well being Rehabilitation Hospital at Little River. After practically six months of hospitalization, his physique ravaged by COVID-19, Chad Hardee lastly returned residence to his household on Friday. His continued restoration from the virus has been referred to as a miracle by his household and pals. Might 25, 2021. JASON LEE

‘It’s not pretend, it’s not a joke’

Because the world does its greatest to emerge from the pandemic and vaccinations proceed, the Hardees are doing their greatest to know the magnitude of their private expertise.

His shut family and friends, grateful for a joyful homecoming and exhausted from months of fear and prayer, has largely been vaccinated, although in the event you would have requested a few of Hardee’s family members, significantly his dad and his good friend Gore, about getting inoculated again in December, they may have shrugged their shoulders.

“I’d made my thoughts up a very long time in the past, no shot, no sort of vaccine, no flu shot, I by no means took nothing like that,” Samuel Hardee mentioned. “However I wish to take this one to make everybody safer. After Chad and all the things, I took this one.”

With all its world prominence, the Hardees and their pals didn’t anticipate the virus to turn into this private.

Chad Hardee is wheeled from Tidelands Well being Rehabilitation Hospital at Little River however walked by his personal energy the final steps right into a limousine for the journey residence. After practically six months of hospitalization, his physique ravaged by COVID-19, Chad Hardee lastly returned residence to his household on Friday. His continued restoration from the virus has been referred to as a miracle by his household and pals. Might 28, 2021. JASON LEE

It may very well be just like the flu, they thought. He’s younger and wholesome, they reassured themselves.

However now, they’ve had intimate publicity to the virus’ toll, they usually know there’s a specific amount of luck chargeable for his restoration.

“It’s sort of scary understanding the truth that you had been in the identical hospital, or somebody proper throughout the corridor from me had it and didn’t make it,” Hardee mentioned. “It’s not pretend. It’s not a joke.”

‘This has modified me as an individual’

Extra physician’s appointments and remedy are on the way in which, and it may very well be a 12 months till Hardee is totally recovered. However he hopes to quickly flip his focus towards getting again to the issues he loves most: cooking and enjoying together with his daughter, Ava, and the neighborhood children.

Hardee’s neighbors and members of the family are able to have him again on the grill, too.

“It’s my home, my grill, however he takes over,” Gore mentioned. “And that’s just about what we’ve at all times carried out.”

Neighborhood hangouts and household dinners, as soon as routine gatherings, at the moment are targets that may mark a turning level in Hardee’s restoration, a long-awaited return to his outdated self.

However he received’t be precisely as he as soon as was. He suspects COVID-19 will depart him eternally modified.

His dad and mom have additionally observed a shift.

“Each time we discuss to him on the cellphone now … he’ll say ‘I like you,’” Samuel Hardee mentioned. “He by no means did that earlier than.”

Chad Hardee is greeted by his father Samuel Hardee as he returns residence after practically six months of hospitalization, his physique ravaged by COVID-19. Chad Hardee lastly returned residence to his household on Friday. His continued restoration from the virus has been referred to as a miracle by his household and pals. Might 28, 2021. JASON LEE

The virus examined his physique, however it additionally altered his thoughts. Hardee says he’ll have a distinct perspective on issues like going to church and prioritizing his relationships together with his household due to his spell with COVID-19.

“It’s modified me,” he mentioned. “This has modified me as an individual.”

Comply with extra of our reporting on Coronavirus in South Carolina

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Mary Norkol covers housing and homelessness for The Solar Information by Report for America, an initiative which bolsters native information protection. She joined The Solar Information in June 2020 after graduating from Loyola College Chicago. She was editor-in-chief of the Loyola Phoenix, main the paper to first place in its normal excellence class from the Illinois School Press Affiliation. Norkol received awards in podcasting, multimedia reporting, in-depth reporting and have reporting from the ICPA. Whereas in faculty, she reported breaking information for the Day by day Herald and interned on the Chicago Solar-Occasions and CBS Chicago.

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