The amazing story of Dan Vogel, one of Paulding County’s COVID-19 patients
By JENNIFER DEMPSEY, Progress Editor
After spending over two months in the hospital, Paulding resident Dan Vogel is finally recovering at home.
Vogel is a longtime barber with a shop on the square in Paulding. Many of his friends and customers know him by the nickname of “Snip”. He is one of the Paulding County residents who contracted the COVID-19 virus.
The first week of April, Vogel started feeling ill. It started with weakness, nausea, sweating and shortness of breath. He went to see his family doctor and was given an inhaler.
His breathing started to get worse after a few days and on April 9, he drove himself to the Paulding County Hospital emergency room.
Upon his arrival, his pulse ox was reading in the 40s. He was then placed on oxygen to help raise the level. A COVID swab was also done at this time.
The oxygen helped for a while, and then Vogel started to decline. His blood pressure and pulse shot up and his oxygen dropped.
Medical care workers in the ER quickly moved into action to intubate Vogel to keep him from going into cardiac arrest.
Once he was stabilized, Vogel was transferred to the COVID-19 floor at Parkview Regional Medical Center (PRMC) in Fort Wayne, Ind.
PRMC uses various doctors on their COVID floors. The doctors were brought in from all over the country to care for the patients.
“They change doctors weekly. They have them for seven days. Dr. Blackman, would call me every day to give me an update,” said Connie Vogel, Dan’s wife.
On Dan’s second day at Parkview, he decided he had enough of the breathing tube and pulled the tube out himself. He was able to talk and breath without the tube, so it was left out.
Dan remained stable for two more days and was able to talk with his family on the phone.
Due to hospital restrictions, Connie and other family members were not allowed to be with Dan in the hospital.
Within a few days though, Dan’s condition started to deteriorate. His was put back on the ventilator and was in a coma.
His kidneys started to not work properly and he was put on dialysis. Vogel also had issues regulating his blood pressure and was on IV medication to keep it raised. Vogel was put on a variety of medications to treat different issues that had started happening.
He was on continuous kidney dialysis for a couple weeks and then was weaned to dialysis for just a few hours a day.
His condition became stable and he transferred from the ICU to the regular medical floor.
After the move, his condition worsened. A doctor called Connie one evening and told her that Dan had blood clots in his lungs and other places.
At 2:30 a.m. one morning, Connie received a phone call that no wife wants to receive.
The doctor wasn’t sure if Dan was going to make it. He had clots everywhere and his kidneys were shutting down.
Connie gave the hospital a DNR (do not resuscitate) order. She knew her husband would not want to spend his life in a nursing home. Connie was also concerned about blood clots being sent to his brain if CPR was needed. These clots in the brain could cause a damaging stroke.
“The worse thing was not being able to be there. If I can’t come there and be with him, could you please hold his hand and talk to him if you think he is near the end. It was hard to say that,” said Connie.
“I remember that nurse talking to me. She said “I’m with you Dan,” remembered Dan.
On May 1, Dan was released from the hospital and sent home on hospice.
“This would be my last gift to him. To bring him home to be with his family and little dog,” explained Connie.
They put his hospital bed by the window so friends and family could come to the window and see him. Also, so he could hear the birds chirping.
The family was told that he might have confusion when he was at home due to his organs shutting down and the pain medications.
The hospice nurse came to help get him settled in and to instruct the family on basic care.
Dan was constantly thirsty and had some issues with swallowing due to the ventilator tube and being in a coma.
From being bed-ridden for so long, Dan was unable to roll over, stand or sit up. Family members would feed him popsicles due to his being thirsty all the time.
When he was home, Connie noticed that his catheter bag started to appear full. If his kidneys were shutting down, this wouldn’t be happening.
They also started noticing that Dan was lucid and was able to carry on conversations with family and knew what was going on around him.
He wasn’t lethargic and was going for time periods without oxygen.
The hospice nurse re-evaluated his condition and talked with the family. It seemed as though he was not actively dying like they originally thought.
They decided that it was best for Dan to be taken off of hospice care and return to Parkview for more care.
While at Parkview, they discovered that his kidney function had greatly improved and he no longer needed dialysis. His lab work was looking better also.
Dan then was transferred to Paulding County Hospital to the swing bed unit for therapy and to help regain his motor skills and to learn how to walk again.
The staff at PCH did therapy with Dan four times a day and by the end of week one he was able to take a few steps.
“Paulding County Hospital is great to be in for swing bed,” said Dan.
“Therapy is great. They are all so nice. They had me walking in a week. I couldn’t even sit-up in bed when I was at Parkview. The nurses were great that took care of me. Polly was really good to me. She looked after me.”
Dan worked hard to build muscle and re-learn skills so he could come home.
On June 12, 64 days after everything started, Dan was able to come home from the hospital.
Neighbors of the Vogels made signs welcoming Dan home and stuck them by the road. Their driveway was decorated with balloons and more signs.
They stood by their mailboxes and greeted Dan as they drove by. It was an emotional day for everyone involved.
An ice cream cake was waiting for him when he got home too!
The Vogels were overwhelmed with the support from the community. A lot of cards and monetary donations were received from people. People also brought food for the family.
A sign was put up at his barbershop in Paulding for people to sign. A young girl also drew a picture for Dan on the sidewalk outside of the shop.
“The community was really good. People would ask me how he was doing and tell me they were praying for him,” said Connie.
“I owe it all to God. Everyone was praying for him,” said Connie.
“They had me dead a couple times. I don’t know why God keeps saving me, but He isn’t done with me yet. He saved me,” said Dan.