He’s another well-known local public figure who knows first-hand what it’s like to battle COVID-19. North Carolina State Treasurer and former Forsyth County State Representative Dale Folwell is back at work in Raleigh after a five-day stay in the hospital earlier this month.
Like many, he has no idea how he got COVID-19. But also like so many, it was a life-changing experience.
Both of us had been trying for the last several weeks to get together virtually to talk about it. But we just couldn’t work it in our schedules until earlier this week when I spoke with him while I was working in my home office.
Here is a summary of his comments edited for brevity.
I first asked him how he was feeling:
“Well, I’m doing great. I haven’t had a cough drop in 72 hours. And I’ve just been through a very intense process.
“And as your viewers will know, the Jamie Johnson son a few years ago, ‘You Should Have Seen It In Color,’ I’m very glad to be with you today. I was actually trying to schedule a blood donation. That’s how good I felt. I’ve never had a temperature, never had a shortness of breath. The symptoms were basically a cough that the allergy medicines just weren’t seeming to have an impact on. That was the only one. (I) never had any breathing difficulties. Never had a fever.
“My family physician in Winston-Salem knew I had an oxygen meter, which I had from my motorcycle racing days, which ended last year. He said, ‘you need to keep an eye on your temperature and your ox levels, and if your oxygen starts to drop (which it did on Saturday evening and Sunday morning) you need to report to the emergency room.
“And they have a protocol, a very structured protocol at Wake Forest. And they put me right in the emergency room and they started running trees on my and then immediately admitted me. And then very soon after, maybe just a couple of hours, they started administering the drug cocktail that many of your viewers have been hearing about, hydroxychloroquine and the Zpack. I was also on oxygen almost immediately.
“And this medicine possibly, Neill, puts you in a stage of sleep that I’ve never experienced in my life. About 2:30 in the morning, I woke up from a very deep sleep and the first thing that crossed my mind was the moment in (the movie) ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ when Timothy Robbins said to Morgan Freeman, ‘It’s time to get on with living or get on with dying.’
“And from that moment, I started focusing on my breathing. And that had to be my only priority, not to think about anything else, breathing in a whole bouquet of fresh roses and exhaling as if I wanted to blow out 62 candles on my next birthday cake.
“But from that moment, within an hour or two, my oxygen intake needs started decreasing and my oxygen levels started going up.
“But I quickly realized that there was a difference between being religious and being spiritual. And as the other country music song goes, ‘Jesus, Take The Wheel,’ I was definitely in someone else’s hands.”
As for the “drug cocktail” Folwell mentioned, he thinks it worked. But he also stressed he’s not a doctor.