Pulmonary Doctor Shares His Experience Of Surviving COVID-19 A New Orleans physician Dr. Jay Miller is weakened by a case of COVID-19. Meanwhile, his wife is pregnant with the couple's first child and had to leave town to stay with her mother.

Pulmonary Doctor Shares His Experience Of Surviving COVID-19

Pulmonary Doctor Shares His Experience Of Surviving COVID-19

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/854115351/854115352" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A New Orleans physician Dr. Jay Miller is weakened by a case of COVID-19. Meanwhile, his wife is pregnant with the couple's first child and had to leave town to stay with her mother.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

As the coronavirus crisis wears on, we have been hearing occasionally from essential workers - today, a physician in New Orleans who's also a father-to-be. His wife is pregnant with their first child.

JAY MILLER: My name is Jay Miller, and I'm an intensive care doctor in New Orleans. March 20, I'm realizing now that the patient load is so heavy, and it's all COVID-19. I'm beginning to be quite concerned that I am certainly going to be infected with COVID-19 and want to avoid infecting my wife at all cost. I send her to Baton Rouge to quarantine with her mother.

As the week of March 23 progressed, I can recall a lady - COVID-19, on the ventilator. As the day progressed, her oxygen requirements went higher and higher. Her blood pressure went lower and lower. And I can see the writing on the wall that this patient's not going to live overnight.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MILLER: So I called the son. The son was in his late 20s. I'm prepared for any sort of grief reaction I might get, but his was anger - anger bordering on rage, anger mixed with contempt. He repeated several times on the phone, what the [expletive] you talking about? She had a cough two days ago. What the [expletive] are you talking about? And I literally had to say, I'm sorry; I'm going to hang the phone up now - and hang the phone up. And she died that night.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MILLER: April 6 - at work today, I'm feeling pretty run-down. I leave work a little early - around 5 p.m. - to come home and try to take it easy. I brush my teeth, and I notice the toothpaste taste completely different. I know that this is my taste leaving me. A couple hours later, I check my temperature, and it's 104.1.

April 9, I'm admitted into the ICU of a hospital that I trained at and have many friends and colleagues amongst the doctors and nurses there. I had the disadvantage of knowing all of the possible outcomes. I asked the ICU nurse to come into the room. I explained to her that I am hallucinating that there's people in the hallway and there's people in my room that I know aren't actually there.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MILLER: Easter Sunday, I'm feeling back to somewhat myself. I'm discharged from the hospital, walk out the doors, catch an Uber home. I think I gave that driver a $20 tip.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MILLER: April 24, I hop in my car, off to work for the first day.

First day back from the hospital since April 6 - was the last time I was here. Hey, hey.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Hey. How you feeling?

MILLER: I'm all right.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Any symptoms?

MILLER: No, ma'am. I'm alive.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Saying he alive - guess it's a lot to say.

MILLER: I'm going to go to the ED to see whichever pace is down there.

I was thinking I was close to a hundred percent recovered, but going up and down the stairs definitely feels different than it used to at this point - felt a little bit short of breath, but not too bad.

This is a car wreck that's going on for months. It's numbing, disheartening for sure. Behold, COVID-19, the humbler of mankind.

KELLY: That's pulmonary doctor Jay Miller of New Orleans with his essential worker diary.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.