BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - In February 2020, Chris Sims thought he just had a sinus infection. After spending 73 days UAB hospital, Sims and his team of doctors believed it was COVID-19. This is before they knew much about what COVID-19 was.
“When I got to UAB, I knew that I was dying,” Bobo, Alabama resident Chris Sims said. “They kept telling me it was a sinus infection because they had no idea. They tested me for flu, for strep throat, and anything they could think of. Everything came up negative.”
Sims said doctors didn’t know what was wrong with him at the time. They placed him in a medically induced coma for one month, where they filtered his blood with an ECHMO machine.
“They never found COVID in my body,” Sims said. “Because they had filtered it all out. Everything was filtered through ECHMO.
It was the early stages of the pandemic and testing was limited. Sims said they will never know for sure, but they believe he had COVID-19.
“As they developed more information as to what COVID was, that was speculated,” Sims said. “I had lost my taste and smell. I was suffocating.”
Sims said his symptoms matched COVID-19 identically and the recovery process after 73 days in the hospital was grueling. It took 6 months before he gained his sense of taste and smell back. He also had to re-learn how to walk, talk and eat. Sims said even one year later, his lungs still have scar tissue.
“It was really bad,” Sims said. “Learning to walk and everything again. But, it is getting better. The doctors are very optimistic that there will be a complete recovery and my lungs will heal.”
He said he still has not gained the full strength he once had.
“You go a little further each day,” he said. “Some days, you take two steps forward and three steps back, but you keep taking those steps forward. With that scar tissue, I’m not able to run as far or fast as I could before.”
Sims said he doesn’t want to see anyone go through the same experience he did.
“I would strongly suggest people wear their mask and stay distanced,” Sims said. “Anything they can possibly do to avoid where I was. I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I went through.”
But, Sim said he hopes people hear his recovery story and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“There is a light at the end of the tunnel because I have made it,” Sims said. “It’s been a long road, but there are happy endings. Some of us are making it.”
Sims said it is still a long road to a full recovery ahead, but he owes it all to the medical staff that helped him.
“If it were not for God and the medical staff at UAB hospital, there is no way I would have survived,” Sims said.