Teacher at local high school fights for life after COVID-19 diagnosis

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Connally High School teacher David Guel, 45, a 1997 Baylor University graduate, was on a ventilator and fighting for life Tuesday at Ascension Providence Hospital in Waco after he was diagnosed with the new coronavirus on March 26.

Lauren and David Guel in a happier moment. David, a 1997 Baylor University graduate, was on a ventilator and fighting for life Tuesday after he was diagnosed with the new coronavirus. (Courtesy photo)

Guel, who has an underlying health condition, has been intubated since last Friday.

His wife Lauren, 39, whom he married in November, tested positive the same day and is quarantined at home with less severe symptoms including fever and a cough.

"It's evil," Lauren said Tuesday by phone from her home in Waco.

"How can you not be with the person that you love the most in the world and no one can come be near me either?" she said

David’s condition was extremely critical Tuesday, but he was showing some signs of improvement.

He first saw a doctor on March 19 after not feeling well and developing a fever of 101.

Based on a chest X-ray, his doctor said he had bronchitis and did not qualify for COVID-19 testing because he hadn't traveled out of state and had no contact with a known positive case.

David was sent home and told to monitor his condition, but Lauren was concerned because David has liver dysfunction.

After neither improved by March 24 they went to the Providence emergency room.

"His blood pressure was low and I was worried he had an infection," she said.

Both had chest X-rays.

Lauren's was clear, but David's indicated he had pneumonia.

They were tested for coronavirus and sent home with instructions to self-monitor as they awaited the results, but late the next night David was struggling to breathe and Lauren called 911.

He was taken by ambulance to the hospital, but Lauren had to stay behind.

Both tests came back positive for the potentially deadly virus on March 26.

David was moved from an isolation room at Providence to ICU and then on Friday was placed on a ventilator.

”It's surreal”

Lauren says she and her husband, who consider themselves germaphobes, have no idea where or how they contracted the virus, but said they did take a quick trip to Austin to celebrate Lauren's birthday with dinner and a couples' massage about a week before David fell ill.

"It's the most unbelievable thing. We were being careful we thought. Watching the news and following the guidelines. It's surreal," she said.

An X-ray Tuesday morning showed a slight worsening of the chest inflammation, but doctors are hopeful that a new Rota Bed they began using late Monday night will help in the coming days.

A Rota Bed rotates, allowing nurses to change the position of patients to reduce the chance of respiratory complications.

“His condition has just been going up and down," Lauren said Tuesday.

"But today is the best report we've had."

”This isn’t the flu”

Lauren and David have no children and Lauren has been living in isolation with continued symptoms of an illness she describes unlike anything she's ever had before.

"I have what you would call a mild case of it and I feel the worst I've felt in my entire life," she said.

"This isn't the flu. I've never had the flu where it felt like this and this is day 15 for me of symptoms and I haven't needed any type of medical intervention."

Lauren's receiving updates about her husband from nurses over the phone and says being separated from him is awful.

"This is a living nightmare," Lauren said.

"The hardest part is I can't be there. I can't be at the hospital. I can't do anything. And no one can be here with me."

But that hasn't stopped friends and family from being as close as they can.

Lauren's mother from Georgetown is living in an RV in the driveway of the couple's home.

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor professor Toby Coley, a friend of David's younger brother Eric, and a fellow church member at Christ Church Waco, delivered the RV from Belton.

"Davis is an amazing brother, friend and uncle to our children," Eric said.

"The entire process has made it abundantly clear how loved he is."

David's father is a retired pastor whose network of friends and family has spread the word far and near for prayer.

Lauren's sister-in-law Brandi went by to pray with Lauren at their home through the garage window where Lauren stood alone.

Brandi placed her hand on the glass that separated the two to pray.

It was a healing moment, the struggling wife said.

"That is healing being able to feel warmth through that window," she said through tears.

David's family is asking for continued prayer saying that they "can feel it."

And, if there's a message in their difficult journey Lauren says it's to not take this virus lightly and understand it could affect you.

"Stay home," she pleaded.

"The only way you can guarantee you're not going to get it is to stay home and limit the people to those that live in your household because it is not discriminatory. It will attack anyone."

For now the newlywed is sitting alone and waiting for the next phone call with an update from the hospital, which she prays, will be good news.

"I just want him healthy and home," Lauren said.

"I need him healthy and home. There isn't an alternative so he's going to keep fighting."