Carl Browning, Jr.: A COVID-19 Survival Story

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By Tom Lambert

​It’s yet another restless, sleepless night for Carl Browning Jr. as he tosses and turns.

He gingerly props himself up with his arms, gently plants his feet on the floor and starts to walk slowly. His joints ache and his breathing is heavy as he makes his way to the bathroom. By the time he gets back into bed, he feels as if a bowling ball is resting on his chest and he’s gasping for air. His shirt is doused with sweat as if he just came out of a rainstorm.

Browning didn’t know it yet: but he was grappling with the devastating COVID-19 virus. It was a journey that he wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy. However, he is proud to be one of millions around the globe who is a living, shining example that it can be beat.

Shortness of Breath

“I had a high temperature at first and that was followed by some respiratory issues a week later,” said the 28-year company veteran of his bout with the lethal virus last spring. “I was just fatigued and would tire pretty quickly. It takes a toll on your body and not being able to breathe because the fluid fills up in your lungs. Well, I’m not sure there’s any worse feeling.”

After an initial trip to the hospital that determined he didn’t have influenza, Browning returned home. He continued to struggle, especially with his breathing and his temperature peaked at 104 degrees.

His wife Cortney had seen enough. It was time to go back to the hospital.

“They considered putting me on a ventilator right away but ended up giving me the highest dose of oxygen that they could,” said Browning, a Public Safety Officer with the company. “I wasn’t in good shape at all.”

Browning stayed at the hospital for a week. And he slowly felt better and regained his strength.

Blessed to Be Alive

“I’m blessed to be alive,” Browning said flashing a smile. “If I didn’t go back to the hospital, I would be dead. I’m thankful that my wife pushed me to go back. She’s my angel. Always has been, always will be.”

What really helped Browning was staying positive and encouraging those around him. He could tell that the hospital staffers were out of sorts.

“I took the view off myself,” he said. “You could see it on the doctors and caregivers faces. They were struggling not being able to see their own families. I made a priority to be more encouraging for them. It really helped.”

He said some hospital staff were staying at hotels so they wouldn’t spread COVID-19 to their families.

“They were an excellent staff,” he said of the personnel at Ascension Providence Hospital in Novi. “They had their own troubles and concerns going on but they pushed them aside. They are really remarkable people.”

Safety Guidelines

Browning is now back on the job. He’s thankful for the support his colleagues and leadership gave him.

“I appreciate the stance the company has taken to follow the guidelines to help keep us safe,” Browning said. “From senior leadership on down, it takes a real team effort to keep us all safe. I am thankful to work for such a caring company with compassionate people.”

Browning said he is thankful for more time on Earth to fulfill his purpose.

“Underlying issues put me at risk for severe symptoms,” he said. “I encourage you to stand with me on managing any health issues. Our families and co-workers count on us to be present and in the moment.”

He’s spending more time enjoying the good life God has blessed him with, cherishing family, friends and co-workers.

“Life goes on,” he said. “But a sickness like this, and being so close to tasting death, this does give you a greater outlook on life. I strive to live in good health, spirit, soul and body.”

Listen to Browning share his COVID-19 story on the Me You Us podcast.

The Center for Disease Control notes that masks are critical to helping slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by preventing droplets from entering the air.

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