By Jill Fox
After continuing to see a packed community basketball court and Publix shopping centers full of cars, Samantha Hirsh is sharing her family’s run-in with COVID-19 to bring more awareness — and hopefully to prevent the spread of the virus.
“My healthy and fit 40-year-old husband survived COVID-19, and it was one hell of a ride,” said Samantha.
Together since the age of 13, Samantha and Craig attended Ramblewood Middle School, J.P. Taravella High School, and then, the University of Florida.
Although their parents still live in Coral Springs, the Hirsh family, including Bayla, 13, and Treyson, 11, have since moved to Boynton Beach.
Their ordeal began when Craig took a ski trip to Vail with some childhood friends. On his last day, he was informed that due to Coronavirus, the slopes and resorts would be closing indefinitely.
On March 15, Craig traveled home from Denver to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Samantha saw a news report instructing people who had been at Colorado ski resorts should self-quarantine. Craig heeded the warning and isolated himself in the master bedroom. This was imperative since both Samantha and their son, Treyson, have asthma.
Soon after, Craig wasn’t sure he was feeling sick due to being sore from skiing and, possibly, jet lag. However, when he started waking up in puddles of sweat with a continuous need to clear his throat, they knew something was wrong.
Next came the body aches, tightness in his chest, and shortness of breath. His head was pounding from a headache that lasted over the next several days, and he completely lost all sense of taste and smell.
On March 25, Craig went to a Med Express in Boynton Beach for a COVID-19 test. The nurse listened to his lungs and did not feel he needed to go to the hospital but prescribed him an inhaler.
Another doctor advised the Hirshes to treat this like the flu — stay hydrated and take a fever reducer — and not to bring Craig to the hospital if it wasn’t one hundred percent necessary.
Due to asthma, Samantha had a Pulse Oximeter — a life-saving device for this particular virus. The doctor explained that if the oximeter registered below 94, Craig would need to go to the hospital to be on oxygen.
The cough was persistent, and concerns of pneumonia started setting in. One night, he was up with excruciating muscle spasms and pains so severe in his chest, lower back, and legs; he was begging for it to stop.
Samantha was doing everything in her power to care for Craig, while keeping a safe distance, always wearing a mask and gloves, and avoiding close contact with her children. Based on the recommendation of another physician, she even watched a video to learn how to pound on Craig’s back to break up any mucus.
On March 31, the Hirshes finally received a call from Med Express confirming Craig was positive with COVID-19.
For a total of 17 days, Craig lived in his bedroom, and the family had not hugged or kissed each other. His symptoms came in waves, she said. Craig would feel fine in the morning, even well enough to work. But by late afternoon, everything had declined.
It was a beast of a virus, and he recovered from it, and she is thankful they were able to handle it at home with the oximeter while keeping Craig out of the hospital.
“My take-away from this is you’re not invincible,” said Samantha, “It’s not a joke, it could happen to anyone. Take it seriously.”