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When COVID-19 comes calling

By Clint Parker

Leicester – There have been four deaths link to the COVID-19 virus in Buncombe County as of Monday (May 4th). The Tribune recently interviewed the family of the first victim of the virus, Leicester resident George Lamb.

Lamb, 81, died Saturday (March 28th) and his family says he was in good health before contracting COVID-19. Lamb’s daughter, Terry Lamb Lance and his wife, Virginia Lamb, recounted the timeline from the last time he was out until he passed away at Mission Hospital.
One COVID-19 timeline

According to Virginia, 79, she and her husband of nearly 59 years were out to the Charles George VA Hospital on March 10th for a doctor’s visit, where they waited “for a while” before seeing the doctor. “The next day, I stopped at the bank and went in and he stayed in the car,” said Virginia. “Then I went to the Dollar Store and he sat in the car. Then we went to Sam’s Club and he wasn’t in there but just a minute and he turned around and went back to the car.” Two days later, Virginia says she got sick and two days later, George got sick.

“(Monday, March) 16th is when I called the ambulance,” said Lance. “They came in and checked his temperature and stuff and told him he probably just had the flu and said there was some nasty stuff at the hospital and he might get something worse.” Lance said they left it up to her dad as to what he wanted to do. He decided not to go to the hospital. Virginia also had her temperature checked. “They checked my temperature that day, too,” she said. Asked if she was running a temperature, Virginia said, “I didn’t have a fever. I don’t think I ever did.”

That night, Lance said her dad ran a temperature of 107. She took it three times to make sure she wasn’t getting a false reading. Lance said she got 107 every time. She worked using cold compresses to reduce the fever only to have it go back up several times over the next several days before it stabilized at 102.5. Lance took her dad to the VA Hospital on Friday, March 20th, where he was tested for the flu and COVID-19. They called the ambulance again on Saturday, March 21st and was taken to Mission. Asked about underlying problems her dad might have had, Lance said he had heart surgery several years ago, but nothing since. “He was pretty healthy,” she added.

At Mission, George was now isolated from his family because of new rules governing visitation in the hospital. Lance said she went to see him twice before Saturday, March 28th, when he died. “The doctor called me two times between (the time he went into the facility and the time he died)…and that someone needed to come see him because he would probably die within a few hours.” Lance said she went on Wednesday and they allowed other family members in on Friday evening, but not his brother (who is older) or nephew (who has three children). Hospital officials were afraid they might get the virus and that it would be more dangerous for them. Virginia, who was sick, didn’t go see her husband.
Lance said her dad was alert the entire time he was in the hospital. “Yeah, he told me he was going to be fine and he was going home.” He never struggled for air, Lance said as she described her dad’s last hours, including George making her promise to meet him in heaven. “They were taking his oxygen down because he was on 100% oxygen…He talked to me a bit and kind of dozed off. He was very peaceful. Then at one time, he started shaking his head back and forth and acting like he was in pain and I called the nurse and she came in and gave him more medicine.” About an hour later, George passed away. Lance did say that she believed that the hospital did the very best for her dad.

The virus can be different for every person

While COVID-19 claimed the life of her husband, Virginia never ran a temperature, but she did have a different symptom. “I was just out of my mind.” She went on to say she believed herself to be “on a pirate ship and everybody on the ship was dead except for me. At one point, I thought I had died. I was just completely out of my mind.”

She was delirious for about two weeks. “I didn’t start getting better until Easter…I was just out of my head.” She also lost some weight as she had no appetite at the height of her sickness.

Lance and her sister, Deanna Reagan, took care of their parents while they were home. Neither used any personal protective equipment like masks while doing so, and neither ever got sick. “We didn’t have a clue [he had COVID-19), we thought he had the flu and my sister and I came down and took care of them the whole time and we didn’t wear masks or anything and no one got sick, but momma, and she was sick before him.”

Lance was in quarantine because of her contact with the virus but said she nor her sister ever ran a temperature, felt bad or anything.

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