A few weeks before Christmas 2021, Ken Finney of Tupelo went to his doctor complaining of sinus congestion. He tested negative for COVID-19, was prescribed medication for his symptoms and continued to feel lousy through the holidays.
The Monday after Christmas, Ken returned to his doctor’s office and this time tested positive for COVID-19. His condition continued to decline and by that Wednesday warranted a trip to North Mississippi Medical Center’s Emergency Department, where he was given IV antibiotics to treat pneumonia that had developed in both lungs.
“We fought it as long as we could at home,” Ken’s wife Sally says. “He was wheezing and turning purple. We were monitoring his oxygen level at home and per the doctor’s instructions, it needed to stay around 80. When it suddenly dropped to 39, I called an ambulance.” That was on Jan. 10—the beginning of his 16-day stay at NMMC.
“I didn’t have any energy,” he says. “I wasn’t hungry, and I was extremely weak.” Ken, who is 60, retired in 2019 from United Parcel Service with 31 years of service. Because he has no pre-existing medical conditions and is very active, he was surprised COVID-19 knocked him for such a loop.
Once he was physically able, Ken transferred to NMMC’s Rehabilitation Institute. Physical and occupational therapists helped him rebuild his strength and endurance to return home. They worked on walking and activities of daily living, like bathing and dressing, and they trained him to focus on his breathing when he gets short of breath.
Ken continued therapy after being discharged home and made steady improvement. He’s happy to be back tending to his cattle and 80 acres where “there are always things to take care of.”
Ken encourages others who have been sidelined by an illness or injury. “Keep your faith in God and don’t give up on yourself. Find the will to fight,” he says. “People are counting on you, and there’s a lot to look forward to.”