81: Ken Thunder & Rose Thunder, A COVID-19 Survival Story (transcript)

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Rose Thunder 0:00
They told me at that time, I could only drop them off at the door and could not come in. So I asked him if he thought he could actually walk in the door. And he said, Yeah, so he I pulled up to the turn around. He got out and he walked in and they had a wheelchair waiting for him when he got in the door. That was the last day for 23 days.

Curt Carstensen 0:35
This is People I Know Show. I’m Curt Carstensen back with Episode 81 today, my guests on the podcast are Ken and Rose Thunder. Ken and Rose are husband and wife. Rose is a relative of mine, although I know her only through Facebook prior to this conversation back in March when COVID-19 was becoming a real thing that all of us were dealing with in the United States, specifically in Minnesota. Things started to really hit home when I saw Rose’s posts regularly on Facebook and eventually on a caringbridge site, about Ken being diagnosed with Coronavirus, and with real concerns that with Ken in the hospital and Rose unable to visit him, there was a likely scenario that he would not make it out of the hospital alive. Fortunately, he did. He’s been recovering. And over three months after returning home, he and Rose join me to share their perspectives of his battle with COVID-19. If you’re a regular listener to People I Know Show you’ve probably noticed this is the first episode I’ve released in a few weeks. Definitely the longest stretch of time I’ve gone without releasing an episode since I started the podcast nearly two years ago. I didn’t expect to be away for so long. It played out that way. I don’t regret it. It was a nice break from the responsibility that I give myself to release an episode every week when possible. Moving forward, I’m not going to make any promises on the precise day that a new episode will come out. But I do have several conversations planned. And if you’ve subscribed on your podcast playing app, or subscribe to the People I Know Show or People I Know Show clips YouTube channels, or follow the podcast on Facebook or Instagram. You’ll know when the next episode is released. And if this is your first time listening to People I Know Show, Welcome. Know that typically I talked to someone from my life who has impacted my thinking or my actions in some way. And I want to bring you their ideas and their perspectives. How Ken and Rose have impacted me is the fact that I was a witness Someone in my network that struggled greatly with this virus, which made it that much easier for me to take it seriously, but also gave me a personal connection, which I know for some people until they’ve had that, and if you’ve never had that makes what’s been going on the last few months still seem kind of distant, and perhaps less real or less serious. Well, hearing Ken and Rose tell their story. I find no way that the seriousness of COVID-19 can be debated. Now, my conversation with Ken and Rose thunder.

Rose Thunder 3:44

Ken Thunder 3:44
how are you today?

Curt Carstensen 3:45
I’m doing great. And the title of my show is People I Know Show and usually I know people fairly well kind of well a little bit have met them before. And with the two of you as we start this conversation, I’d imagine Some time back in the the days of the family reunions, the claseman family reunion my, my dad is the I believe the first cousin to You rose. So back in the 90s. At some point, I probably crossed paths with you. I know we had one of those parties at my parents place. I don’t know how long ago that was, or if you’re there, so I know. It’s likely that I cross paths with you, many years ago. But if that was the case, I was a child and it would have been brief. So it’s good to meet you. I suppose that and now that we’re in the year 2020.

Rose Thunder 4:35
Nice to meet you again. Curt. It was a long time ago.

Curt Carstensen 4:39
Yeah. So it’s happened but so rose, I connected with you over Facebook a few years ago. And actually, we had a separate connection because apparently, some of your nieces and nephews I worked with for time. But besides that we didn’t really know each other and then come March the pandemics hitting and suddenly I felt like I was beginning to Be let into your lives because as far as I understand it, Ken you’re one of the first people to have a serious battle with COVID-19 in Minnesota. So if you can go back to march and as the pandemic was starting, what were you thinking about and then as you got sick, I’m curious how that all begin to transpire.

Ken Thunder 5:25
When it started, it was the beginning of March. And my wife, Rose, and our younger son, we went out to Portland, Oregon. And we needed to, not we needed to we, we visited my sister, we visited my niece. Then we traveled up the coast to Seattle. And right at that time, they started talking about people getting sick in some of the old folks homes. There. And we guess at that point didn’t take it very seriously. By the time midway through our little mini vacation, it started to become a big important event at the time. And when we returned home a week after I returned home, I developed these flu like symptoms. And it got worse throughout that, that remainder of the week. And by the following week, I was in the hospital and spent 25 days in the hospital 12 days on a ventilator. I think it was more scary for rose than it was me because I was just kind of laying there being a listless glob of goo I guess. But the things I do remember about This having a serious fever of 104 and a half having the worst headaches that I’ve ever had before this was prior to going into the hospital. Rose would call the doctor to see if I could get in and they said no, he’s not having trouble breathing. We’re not going to admit him into the hospital. This happened for that entire week. From I don’t remember the exact dates but early March, mid March, that it was a Monday when rose brought me in at about sunset, I remember it was getting dark. And that’s the last thing I remember. Being in that hospital was probably giving the guy my identification card to check me into the hospital because I was having finally an after a week I was finally having difficulty breathing. And that’s when I was admitted.

Rose Thunder 7:53
And this brings us back to the time where from an outsider’s perspective like mine, it seemed like most of the hospital They hadn’t dealt with it much or at all. So they

Ken Thunder 8:02
at all,

Curt Carstensen 8:03
They didn’t have tests or very many or good ones. So they, they had the medical professionals, the people that you are entrusting everything with their kind of flying by the seat of their pants too.

Ken Thunder 8:15

Curt Carstensen 8:17
So I’m curious At what point in this week week long of having some symptoms, did you think that you might have had the corona virus? And in what was what were those first days like I don’t you mentioned that you didn’t they said he didn’t have the certain symptoms to come in. But were you were you pretty aware of what other people have been dealing with through news reports and thought that you had it or where were you at in that stage? You remember?

Ken Thunder 8:46
I was drastically ill so I wasn’t much help. I’m going to leave it to my wife here to kind of give you that information.

Rose Thunder 8:54
When he started to get sick, it was more of a had like cold like symptoms, runny nose, a little bit of cough, slight fever. And really we thought, Oh, you know, it’s not a big deal. And I would say day three of him not feeling well is when the extreme fever, the body aches, the restlessness, he couldn’t function really. He was at that point we had made sure he was quarantined into our bedroom. Knowing how high his symptoms were, knowing how really almost delusional he was, I was very concerned I had called hospitals. I called his primary care physician, I called the local clinic. I had, I must have called three or four, actually five different places trying to get him in for a test because I wanted to know if this was for sure the Coronavirus or was he going through something else. We only Do a one other person who had tested positive, but had more symptoms like pneumonia and was in the hospital for a few days and came back home. Nothing real serious. So at that point, we were like, Whoa, crap, this is real. So yeah, the only time I would go in is to check on him and bring him food and I would cover my face or whatever. We didn’t know. I mean, masking wasn’t really talked about yet. We didn’t really know how it was transferring and to be honest with you, when we were on vacation, we were kind of out in the woods and we were hiking and really shut down on social media didn’t really pay attention to what was going on around us. We were enjoying the outdoors. So we didn’t realize that everything had really exploded while we were gone. And yeah, kinda scary.

Curt Carstensen 11:00
Do you have a sense of when you likely would have been exposed to people that possibly might have spread the virus to you? What was the most likely scenarios?

Ken Thunder 11:12
When you think it was probably on the airplane ride home? I noticed a lady that had she did have a not an N 95 masks, but the little blue mask

Rose Thunder 11:25
disposable cloth mask,

Ken Thunder 11:27
the cloth mask and the whole time we were flying home, she was coughing non stop. And I’m assuming that wasn’t a symptom at the time. I developed kind of the same cough that she had several days later, which in turn led to me being hospitalized.

Rose Thunder 11:47
Okay, so we’ll never know for sure if it was her,

Ken Thunder 11:50
Not really,

Curt Carstensen 11:51
and she might have been very sick and there might have been other people on the plane because that

Ken Thunder 11:54
yes, there was was there was no testing of the The contact tracing there was none of that at all.

Rose Thunder 12:05
This is the the early days of everything becoming just enough knowledge for us to have a chance of maybe knowing what’s going on but not enough.

Ken Thunder 12:14

Curt Carstensen 12:14
What’s going on?

Ken Thunder 12:15

Curt Carstensen 12:16
And then let’s let’s move the conversation back to then at the hospital. Once you were there did what was your sense of how well that the the doctors and the nurses really knew what to do with you had they had anyone else there yet? And like what what was it? What were those conversations like when you were brought in and and I guess also, were you tested positive that day? or How long did that take before they knew for sure.

Ken Thunder 12:43
Some of the things that I remember on the first day or two that I did not remember a lot. I remember that. I remember talking to the person at the front desk, giving him my identification card then There was a big time lapse where I did not know anything until sometime the next morning. I was given the test at that time that night. I kind of remember that kind of don’t remember that. That next morning I texted rose and said I was positive. So it was a quick turnaround. Or was it? Okay, we’re gonna let rose take this thing that was more than I do about this. So

Rose Thunder 13:31
and it’s only because he was so sick. He didn’t. He didn’t. He didn’t have any concept of time.

Ken Thunder 13:36
I did not.

Rose Thunder 13:37
So when he was brought in on Monday night, they tested him right away and they took chest x rays and they ran a bunch of bloodwork and put them in a room. And in order to be admitted to the hospital, you have to have a diagnosis to admit cancer. Somebody in the hospital. So initially they diagnosed him with pneumonia in order for him him to be admitted. On Monday evening, he sent me a text and said I’m positive. And I kind of guessed that that was coming. But I like well, he’s in the right place. He’s at a hospital. He’s in good hands at that point. Um, and then Wednesday morning, I was trying to FaceTime him he had started facetiming me like at four o’clock in the morning, and he couldn’t hold his phone up. He kept dropping it. It was very, very unsettling because I didn’t know what was going on. And finally a nurse had picked up the phone and she had a conversation with me and said the doctor would be coming in soon. And they recalled me back via FaceTime and you The only thing I’m seeing is a gentleman in full ppe and I could see his eyes. But he was he had the coat he had the facial the mask, he he was definitely in his room. And he said I need to tell you that we are bringing your husband to the ICU. He is going to be put on a ventilator. He will be put on to a he’ll be transferred to a higher level hospital, which was North Memorial Hospital.

Ken Thunder 15:32
In Robbinsdale.

Rose Thunder 15:33
We were at Maple Grove to begin with.

Curt Carstensen 15:35
Okay. So you were at Maple Grove For how many days before you were transferred?

Rose Thunder 15:43
Two nights,

Curt Carstensen 15:44
two nights.

Rose Thunder 15:45
Monday night until Wednesday morning.

Curt Carstensen 15:47
And already at that point, you rose and no one was allowed into the hospital as visitors that was already in place. Okay.

Rose Thunder 15:56
Now, when I brought him to the hospital, it literally was I called them as we were driving to save us bringing them and giving them a heads up. He was trying to talk to me. And all I could hear was him struggling to get air. And I told him not to talk, just save your breath. and drove as fast as I could without speeding, because I knew I could get there faster than probably an ambulance coming out. And I really didn’t know what to expect. And they told me at that time, I could only drop them off at the door and could not come in. So I asked him if he thought he could actually walk in the door. And he said, Yeah, so he, I pulled up to the turn around. He got out and he walked in and they had a wheelchair waiting for him when he got in the door. That was the last day song for 23 days.

When you dropped him off, did you have any thoughts of When will I see him again? If I’ll see him again, had your mind started going to that at that point.

Unfortunately, Curt Yes. I knew when I pulled away that there was a good chance I wouldn’t see him again. The drive home was the hardest part.

Two days into this two nights you’re transferred to North Memorial. Hospital

Ken Thunder 17:21
robbinsdale Yep.

Curt Carstensen 17:22
The twin Minneapolis St. Paul Twin Cities area once once you were there, I suppose rose maybe you can you know this. Had they been dealing with any COVID cases as severe or similar to yours? What were what were the experiences I know this is still in the days of Minnesota hadn’t had much of this. There are not a lot of cases. And and I just remember from that time like you were being one of the few was this all new again to the people help me

Rose Thunder 17:55
when he was admitted he was admitted to the seventh floor Covid unit. And that was there were other patients in there at that point. I don’t know. I don’t know how many. But I knew that there were other patients there.

And then as you’re there for how long before they did the ventilator,

he was ventilated before he left Maple Grove, okay? And when they ventilate them, they put him on a parallellic. So that they don’t, the patients don’t fight being ventilated. They make sure they’re paralyzed so they don’t try to pull it out.

If you can explain what that’s like, Can I really no understanding of this so this this will be a lot of education for me. What what of that from that point forward? What do you remember? How often do you remember? Do you remember anything?

Ken Thunder 18:54
I don’t remember. I don’t remember much. I remember having very, very vivid dreams. about some of my past relatives, some past friends who have passed on to heaven or whatever. And I spoke to a few of them. Other than that I don’t remember much until I woke up.

Rose Thunder 19:16
They believe that the dreams are could be for when he was coming out of the coma because they had to medically induced him into the coma in order for them to be able to give his body the amount of time it needed to heal.

You said this before how many total days was that?

He was ventilated for 12 days.

Curt Carstensen 19:42
Okay. Yeah, you mentioned the dream. I just I have thoughts of my own dreams and how sometimes I take a really short nap. That seems like hours. So I it’s probably

Ken Thunder 19:55
it very well could have been only minute minute times. I have no idea. I Was I, I, the last thing I remember, was probably texting her saying that I was positive. That’s probably the last thing I remember until I woke up. And I don’t even know how many days I had been off of the ventilator. Before I realized I woke up. It might have been.

Rose Thunder 20:25
It was two or three days after they took the ventilator off, where he could actually know what was happening around him. And he really had no idea how long he had been out where he was he thought he was still in Maple Grove because that was his last memory. He didn’t really understand how severe his it was.

Curt Carstensen 20:53
So now I want to conversation towards you Rose for a bit and as we go through this I can’t imagine you wishing either one of your experiences on anyone. But have you have you talked about or come to the conclusion of whose experience is the worst in this? Can you suffering from it from being physically in the state you’re in or Rose more mentally having to just deal with it? What’s worse?

Rose Thunder 21:26
I think they’re equally the same.

Ken Thunder 21:28
I agree. It really is. I I’m not nearly mentally fragile about this. But my body was bad. My body was bad.

Rose Thunder 21:43
He ended up losing over 55 pounds while in the hospital

Ken Thunder 21:49
in 25 days.

Curt Carstensen 21:53
Rose as this was happening is he was out for days and days and days describe Some of your most vivid memories or days of what that was like to be you, and I know you have, you have how many children?

Rose Thunder 22:09
We have two children one is still living at home.

Okay, so for you and your children especially, and I suppose, extending from there, your family and friends like what? What is that like being you during those days of just complete uncertainty and thoughts of probably the worst, far, far, far more often than you want to be thinking about these worst possible scenarios?

Well, the nice part was every morning, the doctors would call me and I would get an update from the doctor and they would tell me what was going on? What happened overnight or anything else. Other than that, I would call into the nurse’s station probably four or five times a day and ask the nurse, how is he doing? What is he doing? What does this tell temperature, what is his heart rate? What what kind of oxidation level is he having? Um and there would be some times where they didn’t want to tell me he, they weren’t he wasn’t improving. He about day three in the ICU. He was their most critical patient. It was one nurse with him all the time. She didn’t have any other patients that she was responsible for, because he was so fragile. At one point that he went into acute kidney failure and had to have a stent put in to be prepared to do dialysis. If that was needed. Thank God, it never happened. He never had to have dialysis. But they watched his kidneys the whole time. They watch all of his organ systems and Probably about day 10. in there, the doctor said, we’re going to start backing off on the oxygen pressure to see what his lungs can handle and what he is capable of doing. And they said, this will be a very slow and gradual process to see if he can do this. I don’t know what his lowest oxidation level was. During that time. You kind of stop asking some of the questions because nothing’s getting better. And all you can think of as a suggestion is just getting worse. And a really good friend encouraged me to start his caringbridge site. And that was a great way for me to communicate what was going on. I had people calling and texting and Some people show up at that point. As soon as he was diagnosed with COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health called me and we were put on a 14 day quarantine lockdown in our house. Not like we were going anywhere anyway. But we locked her down. And the time that he went into the ICU was the same day that distance learning started for our son.

Curt Carstensen 25:34
And I suppose because of the lack of testing back then you don’t know whether or not you would have tested positive at that time or have you been tested for antibodies or anything since then or did you get tested at that time.

Rose Thunder 25:49
I waited until a few weeks before returning to work before I went to get tested for the antibody because I was non symptomatic. My symptoms were very Different. While he was still home, I had a massive headache. But I was sleeping in the spare bedroom. So I thought maybe that was showing the pillow. I thought maybe I was just not sleeping well in a different bed. So and also not knowing what was going to happen. The state had been shut down just so much stuff was going on. So to me a headache wasn’t out of the question of what else could be happening. The day he was put into the ICU, I lost my sense of taste and smell that was not on the list of criteria. So again, I thought that was stress and didn’t really think anything of it. So um, I did wait and I went back for the antibody test just out of curiosity, and I did. I did test positive.

And what about the son that lives at home?

He did not go Get tested, he didn’t have any symptoms of anything. his bedroom is actually downstairs and as soon as Ken got sick he decided he would just stay downstairs. So he really we didn’t have a whole lot of contact that that I deserted my son he just chose that he was he would come up for meals and then go Okay, gotta go and spent the time in our house but away from us.

Ken Thunder 27:25
Away from you.

Rose Thunder 27:26
away from me. Well, you were gone.

Ken Thunder 27:28

Rose Thunder 27:30
You said people were calling texting messaging, occasionally coming over. Was that a helpful thing or it was overwhelming somewhere in between?

Um, for some of it was helpful. Because I did need to have an outlet I did need to have people to talk to. I had very good friend who called me every day, sometimes two, three times a day. I would call her And before the update, and just cry, or have my moment to freak out. People dropped off food knowing we couldn’t leave our house, which was unsolicited and unplanned and that was beautiful. People would next door neighbor said, Hey, I’m running to the store Do you need anything? And I’m like, yeah, milk and eggs and bread, you know, basics and that like we were really eating much cuz we weren’t really hungry. We were more nervous wreck than anything. So. Yeah. Community definitely pitched in and helped us out when we really didn’t expect it.

Curt Carstensen 28:43
As Ken was waking up as you’re awaking up would you feel like you’re out of the woods at that point? Like you’re definitely going to survive or maybe Rose’s perspective. What was it was the worst over or was that There’s still huge uncertainty.

Ken Thunder 29:03
And I’ll let you start on this.

Rose Thunder 29:06
I think I think the day that they were able to take the ventilator off was probably the happiest day of my one of one of the happiest days of my life. And I remember calling the calling the kids right away and telling him that he was that they he successfully came off of it. And that he was breathing on his own with just oxygen and not a ventilator. That was so relieving. And I’ll just share one experience that I’ll never forget his call my parents. And I wanted to tell them right away because I’ve been in touch with them. They call me every day to make sure how we were and what was going on. And when I told my dad, he had answered the phone and I told them it can take him off the ventilator. There was silence and I thought We got disconnected. And I’m like, Dad, are you still there? And he said, yeah, this is what we’ve been praying for and he was crying. When you feel that kind of love from others around, you know, you’re not walking that journey alone. And that, to me was such a relief that he was still so out of it with all of the medication was still coming out of a coma that I couldn’t really have a conversation with him for a few days. And nurses were great. They were so awesome. I asked him to put music on cuz he loves listen to having music on. So while he was in the coma, he had music playing. I asked him if they would put his hands their hands on his back. He was one of the first ones that was laid prone at North Memorial on his stomach. Because every morning, the ICU covid doctors from around the metro area, I would do a conference call and ask what’s working? What are you seeing what’s happening? Do you have any empty beds? there? The doctor told me they talk every day to see what was working. And he said they’re having success with patients laying on their stomach. So we’ve put him on his stomach now. And I think that was probably I don’t know, day two. That he was there that that’s how soon now every patient goes on to their stomach. automatically. It gets easier on the lungs. I don’t know I’m not a doctor. I don’t know what medications he was on. I really didn’t care just as long as whatever they were putting him on was working.

So this is back in March and April, when a lot of this was new with what you’ve learned Now, is there anything in particular Ken that made you more susceptible to this? Is that something we’ll never know?

Ken Thunder 32:23
I don’t think we’ll ever know. They’re learning stuff every day. People always ask me the question, well, if you’ve got it, you probably can’t get it yet. And the doctors don’t even know if that’s true or not yet, because apparently there have been several people that have done it twice. So I potentially still not out of the woods, I guess you want to say

Rose Thunder 32:52
I think you’re probably asking to Curt about underlying conditions which would make him more susceptible.

Yeah. Have you had health concerns that might have been involved with what happened to you and being? So serious.

Ken Thunder 33:05
I have, I have type two diabetes. And clinically I was obese, but I’m just a very large guy. And I think it’s just because I was so heavy. They say the obesity factor is a big huge factor in the diabetes is a factor.

Rose Thunder 33:26
He’s lost a lot of weight. So he’s doing better with that.

Not the way you want to lose weight, but I suppose that’s for sure. If it turns to some aspects of your life becoming healthier than they were, I guess they can find some silver linings in anything. So I want to know more about the recovery plan and what you’ve been dealing with. It’s been three months about maybe more since you’ve been out of the hospital.

He came home. On April 15.

Ken Thunder 33:57
Okay, and this is July 24, so a little over three months.

Rose Thunder 34:04
That’s, if you can take me through the early days of being at home and what that was like to how your life is now. What are some of the big improvements that you’ve experienced from from the three plus months?

Ken Thunder 34:19
I want to backtrack to when I was still in the hospital. Eventually, they had me do physical therapy, and my physical therapy guy. The first day he said, Well, he just walked in, we’re gonna do physical therapy today. I’m like, Okay, let’s do that. This is and I am still very weak. He said, The only thing we’re gonna do today is we’re just gonna have you stand up. And I’m thinking to myself, that shouldn’t be too hard. He’s and him and his assistant. Were standing next to me. I could not go from one down to a sitting up position. I could not, I didn’t have enough strength to even sit up. And when I tried to stand up, I almost immediately fell on the ground. I mean, that’s how weak I was. After these, maybe 15 days or whatever, I still don’t know what day I woke up after being off the ventilator. That was the first big reality with my strength. And noticing my hands in my arms, those first couple days being in the hospital that my hands were very yellow. I think I was jaundiced because of not being able to go the ball. They had me on a catheter, but still I think there was some jaundice in me. They, it seemed like every four hours they would come in and take care My temperature do all the normal give me give me they gave me insulin in there even though I didn’t need it. They just wanted to make sure my blood sugar stayed normal. I couldn’t eat very much. I mean, my food intake consisted of basically putting applesauce, milk. A lot of fruit, like berries. Go ahead.

Rose Thunder 36:34
And the reason they kept him on that soft food diet is when you’ve had a ventilator put down your throat, it does irritate the throat, so he had to relearn to swallow, because don’t swallow when a ventilator is down your throat.

And then transitioning, I guess it was or more from the hospital that you really

Ken Thunder 36:59
I think That’s probably the gist of it. I mean, just going through the daily routine of every four hours, the nurses would come in, or the nurses assistant would come in, they take my blood pressure, my temperature, and every day, I’m just thinking is tomorrow going to be the day I go tomorrow? And then and then that was the first week. I was in the hospital. Eventually, I made it to my own room. And I think it was in the in my room for 10 days ish, I guess. Oh, it had to be longer than that. I don’t know. Whatever. I’m just looking at an end date of wanting to go home. Is this going to be the day is this going to be the day finally. The doctor came in one day and he said we’re going to we’re going to send you home tomorrow. And I was overjoyed. I still had no strength. When they finally when they wheeled me out, the nurses were standing there cheering that I made it.

Rose Thunder 38:13
He was this first patient at North Memorial who successfully came up with a ventilator for covid.

There was probably some families that were going to the same thing that didn’t come out of it. Right? How rare was that? They’d been the first one. Was it like astonishing to them that they’d finally gotten through this and help someone alive?

I think it gave all the nursing staff and all the hospital staff hope because all they had seen so far was a lot of a lot of unsuccessful patients. And they, they have they were the heroes. They’re the ones that are really helped and made the journey easier for me by always talking to me by always answering my questions. And they were so joyful when he was able to leave the ICU. And they knew he’d come home.

You know why the day that they decided you could go home was the day was anything special happening or any big advancements,

Ken Thunder 39:26
my temperature was staying normal. My temperature had been, I guess, three days or four days in a row, that my temperature wasn’t elevated up to 99 over 99 I guess that was the key indicator. And my me being on lower levels of oxygen flowing through me while I was breathing, they were able to lower it to a safe enough point where I could To actually survive out in, in the in the world.

Rose Thunder 40:07
When he did come home, he came home with oxygen and oxygen tank for traveling and oxygen machine was set up in her house and he had a walker. He wasn’t strong enough to walk from the bench to the bathroom. on his own. He needed help

coming home, especially in those early days. And up until now has it been a steady trend of improving or have there been setbacks along the way.

Ken Thunder 40:35
There has not been one setback, it’s been an improvement on a daily basis.

Rose Thunder 40:41
So from then until now, name off a couple of the most drastic changes of what you were dealing with in April, compared to what you’re just no longer dealing with anymore. Whereas a big, big they make a huge improvement then

Ken Thunder 40:59
being able to Walk. I could barely walk. I mean, like rose had stated earlier. Our, my our bathroom is nine steps, eight steps from my bed to our toilet. I could not walk that far. And the first three days two three days and just the drastic improvement that I’ve gone that far. Not being on oxygen. The nurse they had a nurse come by that she she twice a week for the first two. For the first two weeks she came by and and her I guess her sole purpose is just check my vitals, check my lungs and see how they cleared up. It’s been an improvement every day.

Rose Thunder 41:57
From your perspective rows. Have you observed anything else that Kingdon mentioned that that you you see in him or off him that that makes you know that he’s getting better

on the fact that he is actually up and around and moving. He was out of work for 112 days. And he just completed his third week back, but he is working three days a week and doing four hours a day. He found out that first week that working two days in a row was a lot of work. So went to a monday, wednesday friday schedule, instead of trying to do like a Monday, Wednesday, Thursday. It’s not sure when he’ll be back full time. His work has been very good, very amazing, so supportive and helpful, and has really, really been there for us.

Curt Carstensen 42:58
And I suppose I don’t know the precise timeline, but when you were infected, you worked. Did you work any in the meantime or were you sick right away and you never worked?

Ken Thunder 43:08
I had worked. I had worked two days we had gotten home on on Wednesday. I worked that Thursday, Friday, we had the weekend off and then I didn’t have those two days or the last two days I worked. That would have been 11th 12th 13th of March, Friday the 13th there would have been a Friday the 13th

Curt Carstensen 43:27
Fortunately, I hope but I guess you know better than I that you didn’t unknowingly In fact, anybody else in that time outside of Rose?

Ken Thunder 43:34
I don’t think so.

Curt Carstensen 43:36

Ken Thunder 43:37
I would hope not mean there’s again, there’s no contact tracing back then either so.

Rose Thunder 43:43
So right now, your life is obviously it’s this has been quite the year. If you can use a percentage. How close to 100% Are you Are we will you ever be like what what’s going to be some lasting problems are going to have if there’s going to be something

Ken Thunder 44:01
I’m not really sure. I think my body right now is probably 80 to 85% of what my strength was when I be pre COVID-19 I think but my again My strength is growing every day. And there the doctor doesn’t know yet he we are going to do a CAT scan on my lungs to see what they actually look like. I have not done it yet, but I have to recall them back again today. And and he wants to he just he wants to make sure my kidney function is still good. So

Rose Thunder 44:43
is there anything in your daily routine or behavior changes that you’ve made? That should keep you healthier in the long run? What What do they suggest for you to make sure that you

Ken Thunder 44:52
stay off as much sugar as you can.

Curt Carstensen 44:55
Advice for everybody, I think

Ken Thunder 44:56
advice for everybody.

Curt Carstensen 44:58
So what’s it like now? Yeah, I’d imagine you’re not going out more than you have to maybe are a little bit Who knows? You can explain what’s the summer of 2020. Like Now, coming out of the spring of 2020, which, you know, was what it was? What are you doing to enjoy being much better than you were? Both of you like, what do you do together?

Ken Thunder 45:22
We’ve gone out on the motorcycle. And last Saturday, we wanted a long motorcycle ride that was, you know,

Rose Thunder 45:30
It is freeing. We were out just enjoying the sun and just driving and got like they could get out, didn’t have contact with anybody didn’t matter. We were just having fun.

Curt Carstensen 45:44
We we’re still in this pandemic. Unfortunately, it’s not going to end anytime soon as you’re observing what’s going on now in either Minnesota, United States or I guess globally I don’t know how closely. You’re Paying attention to what’s all happening. What’s when you’re talking to friends or people you come across what’s like your main message that you’re you’re trying to convey? And I see some of your social media posts as well rose Like what? What do you want people to know you’ve been through this, what do you want people to know?

Rose Thunder 46:23
If you really care about somebody else, do the best you can to help protect that other person. And if that means social distancing, wearing a mask, keeping away from people, you don’t know what the person next to you is battling. We have a very good friend who is type one diabetic. She looks like the picture of health. She also knows that she is on that endangered list. You wouldn’t know that. If you just saw her in a grocery store. People had an idea I can work with some cancer patients. They’re scared, because they know their immune systems are low, just because they’re going through chemotherapy or whatever. When you don’t know what the person next to you is dealing with, the best you can do is try to protect them and suck it up. It’s not about you,

Do you try to avoid social media or because I know it can be tough. I don’t know who’s on your friends list and how the algorithm works on your Facebook and what pops up but there are people that certainly downplay the significance of this and on a global scale, perhaps there’s an argument there, I don’t know. But you’ve experienced I guess the second worst way of experience worse would be not surviving it, I suppose.

Ken Thunder 47:51

Curt Carstensen 47:52
You came as close to that as possible. And you know, you’re both telling that story. So you, you come across people in real life. for social media or on the phone, who downplay this in some way? Do they do that to you? What what’s that like having been through what you’ve been through?

Rose Thunder 48:10
Um, social media for me has really been a negative effect. Um, I have removed social media from my phone. So if I’m going to be on it, I have to actually make an attempt to sit at a computer to log on. I have been unfriended and followed. And I have done the same to others because I can’t continue to see it. For my own mental sake. People who don’t take it serious who don’t think that this is this is a scientific

Ken Thunder 48:52
journey that we’re on

Rose Thunder 48:53
yeah, I mean, this is it’s hard. It’s hard to see people who think that this for some reason is not going to affect them. Especially because we were up the same mindset. We did not think that this would affect us. Both of us have as we thought had a strong immune system. You don’t know how you’re going to react. So I just want people to be safe.

And even for you rose, you obviously didn’t end up in the hospital, anything as severe as what Ken as you went through. But the symptoms that you had, not knowing all of them were symptoms of COVID-19 at the time, that that those physical symptoms that you went through, how does that compare to other times you’ve been sick, was it pretty bad? Is it okay, like, would you want to go through that again?

For me, no, it wasn’t even bad. It wasn’t bad. I would not have known if we were not in COVID time. Um, I would not have no one that that’s what I probably had.

So it can be some people It seems like get no symptoms. You had mild enough that not a big deal. But even so, you could have spread it to someone else had you been out and about at that time?

Ken Thunder 50:10
For sure.

Rose Thunder 50:11
Absolutely. Absolutely. Um, my coworkers, so you know, everything shut down. Me and my co workers went into the office and we disinfected the entire office space. Was I contagious then? Maybe? Did I give it to them? Maybe they neither one of them got sick. Neither one of them has has gone to do an antibody test either yet, but they don’t know. So I don’t know. How do you how do you? Do you want to test your body to see if you’re able to handle it? Are you willing to take that risk?

Yeah, that’s the The challenge here I think for for everyone that takes it seriously and i i think I think I’m somewhere in the middle where I definitely take it seriously if I’m out I’m wearing a mask. I’ve been back to work where I’m wearing a mask all the time. And it’s it’s kind of like, okay, I haven’t gotten it yet. I know there’s a chance at some point that I’ll get it. I do get it Well, I know that I have it. It’s, it’s I’m somewhere in this space where I don’t want to completely stop living life and put myself in a state where I’m not enjoying life at all, because I think some people have gone there and for their own safety, they might have to, but I don’t know that that’s good either. There’s got to find outlets where you can do something safely enjoy it in most of this strange 2020 year that might turn into a strange 2021 and who knows 2022 we don’t we don’t know.

Ken Thunder 51:43

Rose Thunder 51:44
We don’t know

Ken Thunder 51:45

Rose Thunder 51:48
I have a segment that I like to end every episode with my personal growth segment. And obviously I’ve been through a lot both of you. So Maybe you can take this each individually or come together on something that you’ve talked about but as you’ve gone through this is there a personal growth lesson that that you know, you’ll take forward want to share with the world that that you’ve you’ve learned and are kind of putting into your life now living if you’re living differently in any way because because of what you’ve been through.

Ken Thunder 52:26
Again, I’m going to always refer to her because she more eloquent than I am.

Rose Thunder 52:32
See me live each day like it’s your last because You don’t know if it’s an it might not be COVID might be a car accident, might be cancer, you don’t know. So appreciate the ones that are with you. Tell them you love them. And just be kind.

Is there anything that you’d have to add?

Ken Thunder 52:58
No, I think I kind of live the same way. Treat others as you want to be treated, you know, be respectful. I like to tell my story to people who, who don’t think it’s a big deal. And it kind of blows them away. And hopefully, if I can change one person’s thinking, from this thing, not being anything to at least questioning it. I think it’s a positive day.

Rose Thunder 53:34
And that’s a part of the purpose of this conversation to share your story because besides the two of you and watching from afar and Facebook, I have come across a few people that I have had on my podcast previously that have told me they’ve had it. And a few others lately, it’s it’s coming around. I think Minnesota is still a state that hasn’t seen it as extreme as some other states with the cases and But I think we have a long ways to go on this. But once once we’re through it, assuming we’re through it in life is some more nearer what we used to think of as normal. having escaped death through this and gone through this, do you see yourselves living the next decades differently in some way than the maybe you were thinking? Is there any plans for the future kind of going through mine, okay. We went through this, we need to enjoy something that we’ve thought about doing, we’re doing it is there anything like that, that’s come about that you’re sure you’re gonna make make even more of your life than you thought you would

retire and when he is eligible for retirement and network a day longer?

Curt Carstensen 54:43
So is that something that you weren’t really thinking of? So certainly before

Ken Thunder 54:48
it was a very, very outside thought. Now I I think about it often. I think about The fact that I’m still here living that I that I can retire and not put my wife through and my family through a funeral and all of that thing, and it’s it’s a blessing to be alive.

Curt Carstensen 55:20
I think that goes into your living each day to its fullest where you are card our whole lives as much as we need to take care of what we need, but we don’t have to do that anymore. There’s probably better ways to spend our days knowing that

Ken Thunder 55:32
for sure,

Curt Carstensen 55:33
be in a hospital for far too long do you ever want to be in might never get out of it?

Ken Thunder 55:38

Curt Carstensen 55:41
Thank you for sharing your story with me today. Ken and Rose. If you have any final thoughts, I’d love to hear them.

Rose Thunder 55:48
Be kind to each other. Everybody’s fighting some balance and you don’t know what it is.

Ken Thunder 55:55
And thank you for putting these podcasts out there but it’s it’s a great way for people Learn.

Rose Thunder 56:02
Thank you. I’m happy to do it and happy to connect with you over zoom today and I look forward to at some point in the future, a real life connection for the first time and probably two decades.

Ken Thunder 56:12
For sure.

Rose Thunder 56:13
That’d be great.