Lake Regional patient shares experience with COVID-19, vaccine

Anita Harrison
Lake Regional Health
David Lettow

David Lettow, 56, walked into his Lake Regional primary care clinic on a mid-March day with a feeling of relief. Back in January, he had joined a waitlist to receive a COVID-19 vaccine because he knew how bad COVID-19 could be. Lettow, who works for a local boat dealer, had spent 13 days on a ventilator in the ICU at Lake Regional in October.

“It started with a low-grade fever and a dry cough, but then my symptoms went away around day three,” Lettow said. “But then, on day 10, I noticed a pressure in my chest. I was later admitted to Lake Regional Hospital with very low oxygen levels.”

Lake Regional Pulmonologist Haryjot Sohal, M.D., recognized that Lettow’s lung functioning was severely impaired and that he needed to be on a ventilator. Lake Regional Surgeon Scott Brick, D.O., later performed a tracheotomy on Lettow, who was in the hospital for another 10 days after getting off the ventilator.

“Eventually, I recovered enough that I could go back to work,” Lettow said. “However, I still have to be very careful on how much I exert myself. I easily experience shortness of breath, and my lungs are not back to full capacity. I also feel extremely worn out by the end of the day, which is usually accompanied by some tremors and lightheadedness.”

Lettow is considered a COVID-19 long-hauler and is still struggling with related health issues six months later. Long COVID is when symptoms persist more than four weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Safe, Effective, Needed

Medical professionals recommend all adults to be vaccinated even if they have already had COVID-19. All of the vaccines have proven highly effective at preventing illness.

“COVID-19 is more virulent compared to the flu or other viruses,” Dr. Sohal said. “It is more contagious, and there is more severity in symptoms or risk for death. This vaccine is going to help save lives. And if we want to get back to normal and stop wearing masks, then we need to make sure the majority of the population gets vaccinated.”

Lettow is grateful to have protection against possible reinfection.

“I wanted to ensure that I didn’t have to go through anything like my last battle with COVID-19,” Lettow said. “I had minimal side effects from the vaccine. I felt a little off for a day, but it wasn’t anything that interfered with my daily activities. I would encourage people to get vaccinated and to not believe the misinformation surrounding the vaccine.

“I feel relieved to have this layer of protection from the vaccine,” Lettow continued. “My case was very severe, and I don’t ever want to go through that experience again.”

Millions of Americans have been vaccinated, with the vast majority experiencing minor, temporary side effects. Lake Regional has administered more than 16,000 first and second doses.

All Missouri adults can get the COVID-19 vaccine through a Lake Regional primary care clinic. Find one at www.lakeregional.com/clinics.