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Mark Gordon is a Hell’s Kitchen-based actor and professional drummer. He worked for many years as an Emergency Medical Technician — and was more than surprised when he ended up in hospital with COVID. “About a year ago, I was diagnosed with ‘Reactive Airway Disease’, which is on the spectrum of asthma. I am otherwise extremely healthy, with no other preexisting conditions that would certainly complicate matters into hospitalization. The doctor says I may have just gotten the more severe strain. Or even the milder strain that simply resulted in more serious issues,” he told us. Mark shares his Mt Sinai diary.

COVID and pneumonia hit Mark hard.

Got vaxxed. Got boosted. And got the ‘Vid! Yikes — that bi-yatch said, “Take THAT, Mark!” and kicked the crap outta me…  

Now anyone-who-knows-me knows, especially after being an EMT for 7 years, that I have to be deathly ill, pretty much on death’s door, to go to a hospital, let alone via ambulance — but even after getting vaccinated AND boosted, a rough combination double whammy of COVID/pneumonia hit me hard and fast, kicking my arse and landing me struggling in the hospital for 5 days! 

Another anyone-who-knows-me characteristic is that when I do things, I do them all the way, so of course I have to GET something “all the way” — mild strain, my Aunt Fannie!  It was severe enough that Mt Sinai West became my home away from home for a prolonged stay, giving me a ridiculous scare for a hot minute. 

I was admitted not so much in critical condition but with serious enough symptoms that kept me in a danger zone for quite some time, particularly with an added complication of a possibly very damaging bacteria that came back testing positive for growth in the bloodstream, which fortunately turned out to be a contaminated blood culture sample source when repeated by the Infectious Disease team.  That potential sepsis was the worst moment of fear, where the blood becomes poison to the body in response to infection.  No one expects to die IN the hospital. 

Mark was in Mt Sinai for 5 days.

Thankfully after that setback, the results were clear and I was upgraded to a fairer state, but another antibiotic was added via IV out of an abundance of caution.  My initial presentation of acute respiratory distress/extreme shortness of breath (that “SOB” was a real SOB!), violent forceful cough which resulted in major difficulty in swallowing, fever, chills, threatening low oxygen level, swollen lymph nodes and achiness, further developed into slight chest pain, nasal congestion and head pressure, even while hospitalized.  This was all the result of the coronavirus which deeply affected my lungs and predisposed them to pneumonia. 

My white blood cell count skyrocketed beyond even the upper limit range, as my body was desperately fighting off that highly active bacterial infection.  And unfortunately, to literally add insult to injury, a fairly new diagnosis of “Reactive Airway”, which is on the asthma spectrum, was an underlying medical factor that created an increased risk and exacerbated my already fragile lung condition.

Since the COVID variant can’t be detected, the doctors were unsure if I contracted the previous Delta strain or the current more contagious Omicron one that though supposedly is less intense for most, did in fact wreak worse havoc for me. Treatment consisted of hydrating IVs with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory steroids, nebulizer, oxygen, blood thinner, and obvious rest.  To pass the time during recovery, I had my cell phone to check my emails and surf the web, and binge-watched TV shows, football games and game shows. 

Binge-watching football games helped to pass the time for Mark.

And yet another anyone-who-knows-me knows I don’t cook, so I was a fan of the Chez Sinai meals that were indeed tasty gourmet cuisine to me and were posted daily on Facebook and Instagram, though caveating that they were “slow news” days 🙂  In addition to the fine dining, there were bonus desserts of ice cream and Italian ice that soothed the super sore throat I had from constant hacking. Also relayed through social media was my participation in the hospital bocce ball tournament, but I had to convince a few people that it was really only in my imagination!  

Once my constant negatives became improved intermittents and I was stable for discharge, it was onward and upward. I still have the most minor lingering residual effect of a cough, but I’m feeling rather better — right on the healing path to full health and wellness.

Mark lost 10 pounds during his stay at Mt Sinai.

Out of all this, the best moment(s) of joy is that there were no words to express how I felt blessed and grateful to appreciate every kind thought, word and deed of care, concern, support, good vibes, strength, hope, faith, and prayers, etc. from wonderful family and friends superstars (well, I guess I found words!)  I’m alive – and my plants also lived!! 

I guess I have to believe I have more work to do here on this planet… Also on the jolly good upside, I lost almost 10 pounds (not Phil O’Brien — British — money haha), and it’s great to be “Mark”ed safe and out of the woods, and simply back! WOOT! Be safe and stay well out there!!

“It’s great to be ‘Mark’-ed safe and out of the woods, and simply back! WOOT! ” Photo: Phil O’Brien


You can follow Mark Gordon on Instagram at @markchrisgordon

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