School librarian a ‘walking miracle’ after near-death recovery from COVID-19

Picture of woman wearing mask

Underwood school librarian, Lori Torgerson, nearly died from the coronavirus.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — This year, back to school has more meaning than ever for an Underwood school librarian. She nearly died from the coronavirus.

Thankfully, what may be the hardest chapter of Lori Torgerson’s life is now closed. She would have never believed a story about fighting and beating a deadly disease was a story about her.

“Next thing I knew, I was hooked up to everything,” she said. “I don’t believe I was in a coma for that long, but everybody tells me differently.”

“When she came to us, she was already very sick,” Lori Goodman, ICU director at CHI Health Mercy Hospital, said.

It was back in early June when Lori first got sick, showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19. She was quickly admitted to the ICU where her condition worsened. In no time she was on a ventilator and put in a medically induced coma.

“Very overwhelming to me. It still makes me cry,” she said.

As Lori was in the hospital fighting for her life, friends and family rallied. From support through Facebook to Team Lori t-shirts, the Underwood community came together in a big way for her.

Weeks went by and Lori’s diagnosis worsened. She was also fighting pneumonia. But after almost a month, signs of hope on June 29 — her husband’s birthday.

She woke up.

“And when I woke up, he was dancing around. He was like, ‘It’s the best present ever!’” she said.

Looking back now, Lori says it was a hard-fought battle, but she knew there would be no other outcome.

“They keep saying I’m a walking miracle, but I wasn’t going to let COVID win. There are reasons to still be alive,” she said.

One of those reasons is among books at school, where she’ll go back to serving as the beloved Mrs. T.

“I’m still trying to get through the thank you cards and the messages from the kids,” she said.

Lori has still not completely recovered. She’s still weak and going through occupational and physical therapy to gain her strength back. She’s hopeful she’ll be able to go back to school in the fall.


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