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Meet Janet: A Coronavirus Survivor and So Much More

Iora Primary Care is celebrating Older Americans Month with senior Stories of Strength. We are sharing these stories from our patients to offer hope, share their wisdom and connect one another virtually.

Follow #StoriesofStrength on Facebook and Instagram to see all of the featured senior stories.


The news tends to focus too much on the scary parts. And it never talks enough about the survivors. The ones who came out stronger. That’s Janet. She’s a strong woman, an older American, a coronavirus survivor. She also survived lots before that.

Here’s Janet’s story:

“I was homeless and hungry, and a raging alcoholic living in Mexico in a very tragic situation. I lived under a bridge with a bunch of homeless people and went on to become a multi-millionaire. I would go to a catholic church on my knees for food. I would say to God, “if you could get me out of this, I would owe you for the rest of my life.” I’ve been working with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) people ever since and it’s been a big part of my life. This was kind of a miracle in a way and I just had a second miracle. 

I just thought I had the flu, but on March 30th my kids called me, and apparently I wasn’t breathing right and I wasn’t making any sense on the phone. My kids were very worried so they called Dr. Chu because I was delusional and Dr. Chu said to call 911 and get her on a stretcher immediately. When the EMTs came barging in, it took me by surprise because I wasn’t even fully aware that they were coming, which was kind of a funny interaction.

I laid there for 10 days with an oxygen tube and didn’t go anywhere. I wasn’t recovering—good or bad I was just laying there and on good Friday, April 10th, a respiratory department person came in to check the oxygen tubes and she discovered a leak in the tube. Basically, I was losing 70% of the oxygen and only 30% was entering my lungs. The moment we discovered the tube was broken… At that moment we had an amazing experience and she and I both felt it. She grabbed my hand, the energy passed between us. We left each other in tears. 

She replaced the tube and within 6 hours I was breathing on my own. I got better every day and within 18 days I got better. They told me I would likely have to go to rehab, I would need oxygen and a walker, but I would tell them I would not need any of that, and I was right. 

COVID-19 has changed the purpose of my life. Because after Mexico, I was so involved in AA. Now I’m more focused on rainbows. When you’re in a hospital you’re just surrounded by walls and there’s nothing to look forward to. We all need hope, and a future that looks brighter than the present.

Once you’re locked up inside four walls it doesn’t take much to make us happy. I send out weekly blogs to encourage others to find a reason to wake up every day—go out one afternoon and see the sunset or plan a trip to grab a chocolate milkshake from McDonald’s. Find a reason to get up in the morning and do something. Look for the rainbow—we need positive experiences and they don’t have to be big or expensive.” 

– Janet

To read more inspiring senior stories, visit our Stories of Strength.

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