Mike Schultz, a 43-year-old nurse who was one of the first LGBTQ+ healthcare workers to reported to have contracted the virus at the center of the ongoing pandemic, has given an update on his health after being hospitalized for nearly two months and finally being released last week.
In a recent post on his Instagram, Schultz showed the difference in his body before and after being admitted to the hospital. According to the post he went from a 190-pound muscular build to a lean 140 pounds.
"I wanted to show everyone how badly being sedated for 6 weeks on a ventilator or intubated can be," he wrote in the caption. "Amongst other things, [the disease] reduced my lung capacity with pneumonia. Over 8 weeks I've been away from family and friends Getting stronger everyday and working to increase my lung capacity. I'll get back to where I was in healthier ways this time.... maybe even do cardio."
Schultz had no underlying health conditions before being hospitalized, according to a new report in BuzzFeed News.
He and his boyfriend, DJ Josh Hebblethwaite, had attended Winter Party Festival a week before he started experiencing symptoms in March. The event brought in thousands of people to the area at a time when stay-at-home orders or heavy restrictions for public spaces had yet to be implemented. Thirty-eight people who attended the event became sick, and three have died.
"I knew what I thought going in [about the virus]. I didn't think it was as serious as it was until after things started happening," he told BuzzFeed. "I thought I was young enough for it not to affect me, and I know a lot of people think that."
Schultz was taken into the hospital on March 16 after his fever spiked to 103 and he had difficulty breathing. He was immediately given oxygen before doctors started sedating him, which he said "freaked" him out.
"They took him right in and didn't let me stay to say goodbye," Hebblethwaite recalled.
Four days later, Schultz was transferred to another hospital and Hebblethwaite was forced to make decisions on his behalf. He stayed intubated for four-and-a-half weeks. Hebblethwaite wasn't able to visit him due to precaution measures, but eventually hospital staff was able to reunite them virtually.
"About four weeks in, the nurses were nice enough to FaceTime with him," Hebblethwaite said. "It was pretty much like he was in a coma. It was definitely scary. But I was so happy to see him at that point."
Schultz's lung capacity is only now starting to return to normal, a few short weeks after being able to eat solid foods again, BuzzFeed reports. He was released from the hospital last week, and is currently recovering alongside Hebblethwaite, who's been helping him heal.
"After 57 days in the hospital not able to see any visitors, battling pneumonia [caused by the virus,] I'm finally going home!" he shared on Instagram alongside Hebblethwaite in a McDonald's drive through. "Had to make a stop at McDonald's with my guardian angel, my best friend, and my boyfriend, @dj_jwarren. There aren't enough words to describe how thankful I am for his help, for the support from my family, and for the thoughts and prayers of so many of you. I appreciate all of your kind words. I still have months of recovery ahead of me. So happy I get to spend it with Josh."