“Definitely not worth it”: Bryan couple who survived severe COVID infections encourages vaccinations

Bryan couple who says they were scared for their lives only a couple of months ago after becoming infected with COVID-19 are now encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.
Published: Oct. 17, 2021 at 9:48 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - A Bryan couple who says they were scared for their lives only a couple of months ago after becoming infected with COVID-19 is now encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.

Jason and Toni Waltman both spent time in the hospital after contracting the virus at the end of July. They’re unsure of the exact timing of their infection, but they think it happened while they were on a date night that consisted of dinner and a movie.

Jason says he started feeling symptoms a few days later.

“That night, my eyes were just pouring water. I don’t know why, but they were just pouring out. Then I went to bed,” Jason said. “When I woke up at about 3 or 4 in the morning, just every bone and muscle in my body was hurting, just as if someone was driving a nail through me or something, bad.”

After quarantining at home for about a week, Jason would go to the hospital when he began to have trouble breathing. He would ultimately spend eight days there, but was never admitted to the ICU.

“It was scary at first because, for me, I had this giant nasal cannon, and it’s about the equivalent of blowing a hairdryer up your nose the whole time,” Jason said. “You’re just thinking, ‘Man, am I going to make it? What’s going on?’”

But things were much worse for his wife Toni. She started feeling the effects of the virus a few days after her husband. Her infection timeline was similar to Jason’s, but two to three days behind. She says she could barely breathe when she drove herself to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center, and it wasn’t long before she was in the ICU.

“Next thing I know, I’m getting my clothes cut off of me, so they could put me in the gown. They didn’t have time to take my clothes off, so they cut them off me,” Toni said. “I woke up with a thing in my mouth, and... it was scary, very scary.”

Toni would spend about six weeks in the hospital. She was on a ventilator on two different occasions and remains on oxygen since making it back home. She says it’s been difficult for her to be attached to the machine all the time, and that she can’t walk very far without being out of breath.

“There were several times I didn’t know if I was going to make it out,” Toni said. “I had to fight. I had to do what I had to do to get back home to my family.”

“Chances are our lungs are going to be damaged somewhat I’d imagine for a while,” Jason said. “There probably won’t be any second chances. If it happened again, we probably wouldn’t make it. We won’t be so lucky.”

The couple says getting vaccinated just wasn’t a top priority for them, and all the misinformation out there contributed to that.

“I wasn’t 100% against it. It wasn’t anything like that,” Jason said. “It was just, we work long hours, and on the weekends we’re really busy. Let’s just wait and see how everybody else does before we get ours. You see so many horror stories out there.”

During his hospital stay, Jason says he did a ton of research and asked his doctors lots of questions about the vaccine. He says that, along with the experience he and his wife had in the hospital, is what made them dead set on getting it.

Now, both of them say they regret not taking the time to get the shot.

“Go get vaccinated,” Toni said. “It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it. Definitely not worth it. I would much rather take the suffering from being sick a day or two off the shot than go through what I just went through. It’s horrible when you can’t breathe, and you’re doing everything you can to try to get that little gasp of air and you don’t. It’s scary. It’s very, very scary. The whole time I was laying in that hospital bed with that life support, I was thinking, ‘God, why didn’t I just get that vaccine? Why? I probably wouldn’t be doing this right now.’”

“If you don’t know what’s going to happen to you when you get that shot, you definitely don’t know what’s going to happen to you when you get into the hospital and you’re on life support,” Jason said.

Doctors told Jason and Toni they should wait to get vaccinated 90 days after becoming COVID-free. They both say they’re getting the shot the moment they’re able to when that period ends in the middle of November.

Baylor Scott & White Health is running a campaign with resources to help people talk to unvaccinated loved ones about the vaccine. Click here if you’d like to access those resources and see the stories of others encouraging people to get vaccinated.

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