By Ashleigh Swan
In March 2020, as the world was trying to understand the realities of COVID-19, Mike Kueper was living it.
What began as symptoms of a cold or flu soon turned into a nightmare for the Fishers resident.
“I didn’t know it was COVID until my taste and smell went away,” Kueper said. “From the reports, I just thought I just had to self-quarantine and I would get over it.”
But when Kueper, 53, had trouble breathing, he knew it was something serious.
“My mom, dad and sister were calling around to different hospitals to see where I could go, and I ended up getting admitted to IU North,” he said.
After spending one night in the hospital, doctors decided that Kueper needed to be on a ventilator.
“The last thing I remember was the doctor asking if I had a living will,” he said.
What Kueper thought was only a few days napping turned out to be 17 days on a ventilator. When he was taken off the machine, he was confused and didn’t know what was going on.
“I thought I was in a plane crash, and I was trying to figure out where I was vacationing when the crash happened,” Kueper said.
One year later, Kueper is feeling much better. He said that he is 90 percent recovered but still has numbness in his thighs and feels winded after walking.
“Those things I live with,” he said. “I am just happy to be here.”
Now, Kueper wants to give back to the people who helped him beat COVID-19, which is why he nominated his doctors and nursing staff for the NCAA Frontline Award.
The award recognizes individuals who have worked hard work and shown dedication during the pandemic.
Kueper said he nominated his doctors and nurses because they went “above and beyond.” He also said that his doctor tried everything with him and kept his parents informed, something that Kueper greatly appreciated.
“I want to do whatever I can to give them thanks,” he said.
Kueper stays in contact with his nurses and doctors and has a stack of cards on his kitchen counter that will be sent to them March 28, which marks a year since he was admitted to the hospital.
Kueper said t’s important to recognize health care workers because they are putting their lives on the line as they work, which takes an emotional toll. He said one nurse told him she cried more in the past year than she has in her entire life.
“It’s ongoing, and I want to give them a break. I want to give them recognition and hugs,” he said. “Without them, I don’t know what would’ve happened.”