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LENEXA, Kan. — Behind every number in the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a name and a face, a story of battling a crippling illness. A Lenexa man knows he’s lucky to be alive after the virus kept him hospitalized for weeks.  

With a bright smile and twinkle in his eyes, Eric Goodman is starting to feel like himself again.

“I can really tell the energy and strength is starting to come back,” Goodman said.

The past two months for the 44-year-old have been one long road. On March 13, Eric flew home from a business trip and just didn’t feel right.

“The first thing that started happening was I had no energy,” Goodman said.

With rest, he felt better. But 48 hours later, it was much different.

The Symptoms

“I woke up and felt like I was on fire,” Goodman said.

He called a doctor, who urged him to get to the ER. A full battery of tests came up empty. After four days, Eric went home with medications to isolate for possible COVID-19.  

Two days later, he felt worse than ever.

“My breathing was real shallow, almost hyperventilating. And it felt like someone was sitting on my chest,” he said.

Doctors and nurses met Eric at the ER doors of Advent Health Shawnee Mission.

“Twenty-eight minutes after I got there, they had me intubated and sedated,” Goodman said.

Eric Goodman

He spent 13 days hooked to a ventilator. Further testing confirmed COVID-19. One of the last things he remembers: The 23rd Psalm racing through his mind.

“I didn’t realize I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death because I was this close to not being here anymore,” Goodman said.

His bride of 19 years couldn’t visit, until doctors thought Eric might die.

“At the time I didn’t realize that, but I’d only been able to see him twice,” said Eric’s wife, Elizabeth Goodman.

The Turnaround

On April 8, a miracle happened. Eric woke up.

“It was crazy. I just didn’t believe it,” Elizabeth said.

Then new challenges began. Eric had no idea where he was and couldn’t recognize loved ones.

“It was probably two or three days before I even knew what my wife’s name was,” Eric said.

Eric Goodman

Doctors call it “ICU delirium,” and it takes patients a while to clear the fog from the body and brain feeling so withdrawn from the world.

“I will say this — recovery is hard work,” Eric said.

Eric has lost 50 pounds and lots of muscle mass. He needed a stint in a rehab hospital to re-learn balance, walking, and basic tasks.

“It was exhausting,” Eric said.

But Eric was determined to put in the hard work and get home to his wife and two sons. And he did it, clinging to his inner-strength and a scripture from a hospital prayer card to fight through.

“I kept that card because every time I was walking, I was feeling faint, so I had to place my faith in a higher authority and that I was going to get through this,” Eric said.

The Takeaways

The couple also credits an outpouring of love from a growing circle of friends, family and the community for getting them through.

“Family, faith, friends, is what matters in this,” Eric said.

The Goodman family

“Through this, my circle was obliterated, and I now have a world of people that I didn’t even know I had or wanted and can’t imagine getting through this without them now,” Elizabeth said.

And as the world around slowly tries to get back to normal, the family wants all of us to be extremely careful, to keep ourselves and those we love safe.

“I think the message I want to tell everyone is it’s a serious disease. You’ve got to treat it with a little bit of respect,” said Eric.

He still struggles with sleep and doesn’t know how the virus will affect his body long-term. He’s taking it day by day and is just grateful to be alive.

Eric is also planning to donate plasma for potential antibody use in new COVID-19 patients.

His family is also faced with a mountain of medical debt. If you’d like to help, you can donate here.