Melynie Blackshear and her father Calvin Davis

Melynie Blackshear and her father Calvin Davis at her sister's wedding in 2019.

Courtesy of Melynie Blackshear

(St. Louis Public Radio) -- Calvin Davis became very ill in late March and was diagnosed with COVID-19 shortly after. After being admitted to the hospital on April 9, he spent 76 days there and two weeks in a care facility as he battled the coronavirus. For much of that time, he was on a ventilator.

“We were told within the first week and a half to three weeks that our dad was considered terminal,” said his daughter, Melynie Blackshear. “He was pretty much considered to be a dead man. [They said] he would never breathe again on his own, he would always require the use of a ventilator and a trach. His lungs had turned into concrete, they were hard like bricks.”

And yet, today, “he’s now the complete opposite of what we were being told,” she said.

Davis’ lungs recovered enough for Blackshear to move him to at-home care in mid-July. Though the road to recovery has not been easy. She said weeks later, he’s dealing with a lot of nausea and residual pain.

“It’s that ghost type of pain that you might hear somebody who loses a limb speak of,” Blackshear said. “Pain from his back that radiates down his legs, or his knee hurts really bad to where it’s just debilitating. And he wants to lay down all day, but with that condition, the virus still has a lot of mucus in his body and he needs to be elevated at least 75% of the way. But with all the pain, he only wants to lay. So that’s really, really difficult.”

Blackshear was furloughed during the pandemic, which she views as a blessing in disguise, as she now spends about 62 hours a week caring for her dad. As a first-time caregiver, she’s had to acquaint herself with various medications, as well as learn how to connect feeding tubes and take blood pressure readings.

“I probably would be able to pass the medical board exam now,” she said, laughing.

Another substantial aspect of Davis’ COVID-19 recovery has been on the financial side. Davis works as a radio personality at Mix 99.5 FM “the Heart & Soul of St. Louis,” but four months of him being out of work plus the cost of prescription medications and medical bills have left the family burdened. Blackshear recently set up a GoFundMe page to help cover some of the expenses.

While it costs more to keep her father at home, Blackshear said she feels it’s necessary for his mental health. She noted that once her dad was back home, his mental clarity and emotional wellbeing greatly improved.

“You have to keep them motivated in order to keep them safe and yourself safe,” said Blackshear. “Like I tell my dad, I say, ‘We’re taking one moment at a time. Not one day, just one moment at a time,’ because things for him can change as well as things for me could change at any moment. If this is a good moment, we’re going to cherish it.”

Davis is eager to see more friends and family, but for now, Blackshear and her siblings have limited the number of visitors to his house in order to prevent further infection. Her hope is that others in the community also take the virus seriously in order to avoid future spread of the disease that hit her family hard.

“The most frustrating thing for me when I’m in public, and listening to the news, [is] all of the individuals who are refusing to wear a mask,” she said. “Please just wear your mask. I don’t think it’s much to ask, just to wear a mask.”

Republished with permission of St. Louis Public Radio. To hear this “St. Louis on the Air” broadcast, go to:

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