SACRAMENTO MAN DEFIES COVID-19 VENTILATOR ODDS
Watching Paul Cantelli walk out of his Sacramento home is witnessing a medical journey turn 180 degrees.
The 63-year-old man was hospitalized for 65 days after being diagnosed with COVID-19. For more than 40 days, Cantelli was put on a ventilator and stayed in the ICU, according to a report from KCRA 3 News.
Cantelli had no underlying health conditions, walked 5 miles a day and even completed a half marathon. His wife and daughter also contracted the novel coronavirus but were able to recover at home.
Cantelli was discharged from the hospital on May 28 but couldn’t walk or breathe on his own. At the time, physicians told him the recovery to his lungs was unknown.
“I had the strength of a 2-year-old. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t open bottles. I couldn’t do anything,” Cantelli said. “I want the nurses and doctors to know that everything they did -- I’m not wasting it. They worked hard to get me out. I’m working hard to stay out.”
Just over two months later, Cantelli is slowly making extraordinary progress. His chest is still tight; his lungs and breathing are still compromised. However, he doesn’t need oxygen or a walker anymore.
“Let’s say I increased 5% in week one, 5% in week two, 10% in week three,” he explained. “It doesn’t always seem like a lot, but I was going with oxygen less. I was needing the walker less.”
Cantelli can now walk over 3 miles a day and can run the distance of roughly four houses. He also played golf for the first time last weekend.
“I’m going to continue that every day. And every other week, I’m going to get it so I can run this entire block,” he said. “It feels like I have my life back. I’m driving a boat with the grandkids, taking them tubing and just having a blast.”
Cantelli is regaining his strength and feels he’s at 80% of where he used to be. But, his recovery is still facing uncertainty.
“They told me I have the antibodies. But, they don’t know how long they are going to last or how strong they are. So, I don’t know if I could get it again. They don’t know,” he explained. “Knock on wood, everything that I feel now there is no reason why, unless I get sick again, that I shouldn’t have a full recovery.”
Dr. Nicole Braxley with Mercy San Juan General Hospital explained Cantelli’s improvement is Cantelli’s improvement. COVID-19 recovery differs from one patient to the next.
“A lot of the evidence we are practicing off of is anecdotal, which means it’s not backed by years of extensive research. We’re learning as we go,” Braxley said. “We have to take each experience as its own. You’re going to need all of the immunity to have an effective recovery and the healthier you were going into it, hopefully, the healthier you’ll be coming out of it.”
Braxley said there are still daily changes and new unknowns.
“Everything is surprising with this virus. Literally, every day we learn something new,”
Braxley said. “Until we get through this flu season, I don’t think the medical professionals are going to be able to tell the public one definitive thing of what to expect.”