Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2020

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Man’s battle with COVID-19 marked by isolation, loneliness

Paramedics at Colleague's COVID-19 Hospital Discharge

Christopher DeVargas

Local paramedic John Foster is greeted with applause and cheers from family, hospital staff and fellow paramedics and firefighters as he is discharged from Dignity Health Rehab Hospital following a 4 month long battle with COVID-19, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020.

During a four-month battle with COVID-19, John Foster lived through a stroke, kidney failure, dialysis and weeks being unconscious on a breathing machine.

Sometimes the physical pain was nearly unbearable, but it couldn’t compare to the hurt of being isolated and lonely, he said.

Paramedics at Colleague's COVID-19 Hospital Discharge

Dozens of paramedics and firefighters arrive outside Dignity Health Rehab Hospital to greet fellow paramedic John Foster as he is discharged from the facility, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. Foster had been battling COVID-19 for 4 months, spending 2 of those months at the rehab hospital. Launch slideshow »

“I've run out of tears,” Foster said today as he was finally released from a Henderson hospital. “It was a very humbling experience.”

As he was wheeled through the sliding doors at Dignity Health Rehabilitation Hospital, Foster, a paramedic, was greeted by cheers and applause from coworkers.

He was quickly surrounded family and friends as hospital staff waved pompoms and showered him with confetti.

“You can’t get through it without prayer and family and friends,” said Foster’s girlfriend, Laurie Matthews.

Foster, who is in his 50s, said he was unsure at times if he would survive. “They were almost ready to turn off the switch, and then I woke up,” he said.

Foster said he is still experiencing residual pain “from whatever the virus did to my brain.”

He said the disease left him confused. “It scrambles the brain. It makes you wonder what you’re actually doing there and whether it’s real,” he said.

Foster said he wasn’t sure how he contracted the disease, but he was at higher risk working with patients with coronavirus on his job.

His girlfriend’s son, Douglas Bender, also contracted the virus, testing positive after being around Foster. But he doesn’t know for sure how he got it, he said.

Bender said he was lucky he didn’t get as sick as Foster.

“I got to go to the hospital for three days. I got treatment, and I got out,” Bender said.

Foster’s employer, Sam Scheller, owner of Guardian Elite Medical Service, said he never gave up hope the whole time Foster was in the hospital.

“We knew John was a fighter,” he said.