Survivor recalls battle with COVID-19: ‘After I got off the ventilator [I] was paralyzed’

ICU beds.
ICU beds. Photo credit GettyImages
By , Audacy

When patients are diagnosed with COVID-19 and hospitalized because their symptoms are too severe, they are not allowed to have visitors. The only exception is when doctors think that patients will not survive. When Mark Korin was hospitalized, his wife was granted that exception.

"My doctors told me...I was in a very, very bad place," Korin, the former Mayor of Oak Grove, Minnesota, shared.

Korin spent 46 days fighting COVID-19 in the hospital, and both he and his doctors did not know if he would survive.

"After I got off the ventilator [I] was paralyzed," he said.

Korin is now recovering and he talked about, what he called, a "near-death experience" with COVID-19 with News Talk 830 WCCO's Paul Douglas.

Catching COVID

When Korin was first diagnosed with COVID-19, it was after he was at an airshow for his company that creates aviation products to help pilots fly safely in OshKosh, Wisconsin.

He said he had not been sleeping in the days leading up to the show, something he credited to working so much. However, he slowly started developing a cough during the show and a loss of appetite as the days went on.

It was then that he was diagnosed with COVID-19. Korin shared that he had not been vaccinated for the virus, thinking it was like any other virus.

"You know we go through life with risks, and I believed taking high volumes, or high doses of vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, [would help,]" he said. Korin added that he thought it was just like "any other virus, you power through it."

Looking back on everything he has been through, Korin wishes he could have changed his prior decision.

"I had the opportunity to get the vaccine, and at that time, I weighed my options," Korin said. "If hindsight were 20/20, if we never made mistakes throughout life, I could honestly say I probably should have had it. I wish I had it now."

Being in good health before his battle, he had thought that if he did catch the virus, he would "sleep it off" and be out for a couple of days before going back to work.

"Unfortunately for me, I was not that lucky," Korin said. "It's been quite a journey."

After returning home from the airshow, Korin was hospitalized for the virus, in "very bad condition," he said.

Hospitalized

"When I entered the hospital at first, it was so hard to breathe," he shared.

Korin spent his first 11 days in the hospital being cared for before his doctor informed him that he needed to be admitted to the ICU to be put on a ventilator; otherwise, he may not make it.

He was transferred and then put on a ventilator for seven days in an effort to save his life.

While on a ventilator, he was put on steroids to help open his lungs, but he shared that the steroids "suck away your muscle mass."

Korin shared that after being put on the ventilator, he was also medically paralyzed with medication, so he wouldn't try to remove the vent.

"After the seventh day, my stats were so bad that two of the doctors said, 'let's give him time to stabilize,'" Korin said. Other doctors wanted to give Korin a permanent breathing tube with a tracheotomy, but his doctors decided against it, and thankfully he was able to slowly recover.

"Fortunately, every body function, my heart, my lungs, my breathing, everything started to turn around, that's when things started going better for me," he said.

Korin continued to recover and excelled at his rehabilitation in the hospital, so now he has been transitioned to an in-home rehab program through Allina Health.

Counting his blessings

Throughout his terrifying battle Korin did not know if he would make it at several points, but now he is able to count his blessings.

"I pray to God, nobody has to go through what I went through," he said. "There are other people who aren't as lucky as I was."

Korin found himself not only questioning the effects that the virus had on himself, being that he has to go through physical therapy, but also his loved ones who were being told that he "may not come out of this."

"I have never been a vaxxer, I've never been an anti-vaxxer, I believe that people should make their own decisions," Korin said. "It's really important for every one of your listeners to understand, do their own research, talk to their doctors, let the doctors give them information about whether they should get it."

Korin continued, sharing that "I am going to tell you from a personal standpoint; I should have got it. That doesn't make me inadequate or stupid of any of that; I think what it does is it opens your mind to not only how does it affect me physically...but I think what this has done for me is appreciate what's around me."

Currently, Korin will make a full recovery, but it is going to be at least 90 to 100 days. Still, he knows that he would not be in the place he is if not for his nurses, doctors, and loved ones.

"It's been a long road for me," he said.

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