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‘I’ve come too far. I’ll be alright’: Harlan County man continues COVID-19 recovery battling long-term effects

Gregg York spent 75 days in the hospital last year fighting the virus
Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 9:31 PM EDT
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HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - It has been six months since Harlan Countian Gregg York came home from the hospital, after spending 75 days there fighting COVID-19.

“It’s not over when they come home from the hospital. Basically it began when he came home,” said Cathy York, Gregg’s wife.

When he returned home in October, Gregg could not walk. He could barely move from the couch to his wheelchair. His legs are numb from the knees down due to nerve damage.

“Being able to have control to where he can just stand up and walk he doesn’t have that yet,” said Cathy.

With months of therapy and leg braces that go from his heal to his toe, and come up the back of his leg, he can now walk with his walker.

“That has helped him tremendously to be able to not stumble because without those his feet automatically drop to the floor because he has no muscle control with his ankles to pull his feet up,” said Cathy.

His right leg is better than his left. He can move his toes a little bit and turn his foot from side to side. Doctors found a small intraspinal synovial cyst on left side of his spine which they think may be causing some of the numbness.

Nerve conduction tests show that the brain is telling his feet to move, but they are not responding.

“It kind of sets you back a little bit but I’ve just come to far to, the Lord’s been too good to us ,” said Gregg.

In March, Gregg was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. This is a condition where the tissue in the lungs become scared.

“His lungs kind of look like Swiss cheese and that it’s not going to get any better but hopefully it won’t get any worse,” said Cathy,

Cathy says if he had an x-ray it would look like he had pneumonia. This causes Gregg to have trouble breathing, lower lung capacity, tiredness and a dry cough.

He has a multitude of other health issues including memory loss, occasional blurry vision and PIC syndrome.

“Basically everything that he has going on is directly COVID related is what the doctors have told us,” said Cathy.

Gregg is a part of two research programs with UK hospital. The first, three months of zoom therapy along with lung function, nerve and cognitive tests.

“They asked us and I told them I didn’t care a bit if it helped somebody,” said Gregg.

The second program is nerve research. In June, they will take a sample of his muscle and compare it to normal people’s tissue and other diseases to see how COVID effected and attacked it.

Gregg and Cathy both thanked the Lexington VA Health Care System as they have provided any equipment Gregg has needed through his recovery.

In February, Gregg received his COVID-19 vaccine, which he was thankful for, as he was scared to leave the house before he received the shot.

“I’ve went some places. I’m still leery, but you can’t be scared forever you have to get on with it,” said Gregg.

Both Gregg and Cathy are urging people to get the vaccine to help save someone’s life.

“This vaccine any of the three that’s out there right now could keep someone from doing that. I don’t understand why they don’t want to take it,” said Cathy.

Gregg still has years of recovery ahead of him, and though he get’s frustrated with the slow process, he’s thankful he’s still alive.

“You wanna do a lot of stuff but you can’t. You’re limited on what you can do but you wanna do it and you just can’t do it and that’s what gets aggravating. It’s like that woman told me, don’t dwell on what you can’t do dwell on what you can do so that’s why it’s what I do and between everyone praying and the good Lord, we’ll be alright won’t we,” said Gregg.

He says he’ll continue to take it one day at a time, and if he’s able to use his experience to help someone else, it makes it worth it.

“That’s why it happened. There’s a reason for everything and the Lord let us get through it so that we can help other people. I truly believe that,” said Cathy.

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