Josh Livingston, born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas – is a huge football fan. A graduate of Texas Christian University, with both a bachelor and master’s degrees, he is loyal to the school’s Horned Frogs -- and surprisingly, the Philadelphia Eagles. Josh loved attending games and even made it to the Super Bowl when the Eagles won it all. But the coronavirus pandemic put Josh’s favorite pastime on hold. He wasn’t taking any chances as his asthma which put him at high-risk.
Just days after the first COVID-19 vaccine was granted emergency authorization – but before Josh had the opportunity to get the shot, he began to feel sick. He tested negative for the virus at first, but without any improvement after a week he was tested again. This time the result was positive. His symptoms seemed manageable, so he gave it a day to see if things would improve. They only got worse. Josh went to the hospital and, within 48 hours, was placed on a ventilator. After a week, when doctors attempted to liberate him from the machine, he crashed three times. They were able to stabilize him, but he remained in dire condition. It was suggested to Josh’s family that they should prepare to say their final goodbyes.
Two more weeks went by and Josh, still on the ventilator, began to show signs of improvement. Doctors successfully liberated him, but he remained in the ICU. By this time, Josh had spent nearly two months in the hospital fighting for his life and the virus had taken a devastating toll on his body. His family chose Baylor Scott & White Institute for Rehabilitation – Fort Worth (BSWIR – Fort Worth) to help him on the long road to recovery.
Upon arrival at BSWIR - Fort Worth, Josh could barely raise his arms and had no use of his legs. He had to be lifted in and out of bed with a mechanical lift. He had lost all his core strength, endurance, and balance. He was also experiencing severe pain from spending so much time lying on his back at the hospital.
Josh’s main goal was to walk again, calling it his “pathway to independence.” His rehabilitation team was determined to help him reach his goals and began by focusing on bed mobility. Once he was able to tolerate sitting, Josh worked extensively with his physical and occupational therapists on core strengthening, endurance, stamina and safely transferring in and out of bed. As he became stronger he quickly advanced to gait training, walking exercises, and climbing stairs. He also regained his independence in performing most self-care and other daily living activities.
“I’m so absolutely grateful for my rehab team.”
Josh’s motivation and determination fueled his progress and the significant gains he made in a short time impressed even his rehab team. By the time he transitioned to the outpatient Day Neuro Program at BSWIR-Fort Worth, he was walking about 100 feet with a cane. Through the Day Neuro Program’s daily therapy, Josh progress from the first 100 feet to literally doing circles around the building. He was going up and down hills without a cane and even clocked 960 feet in six minutes. In other words, he was well on his “pathway to independence.”
Beyond the walking – Josh did a lot of core work as well. From squats to modified pushups to complex floor techniques that incorporate moving items around. During inpatient he had a fall that took three people to get him up. Now, he’s able to workout at ground level and pop up all on his own.
Josh shared, “I couldn’t be more thankful for everything. I remember the tears when I stood up for the first time. I’m so absolutely grateful for my rehab team. I also think there was an inner strength I didn’t know I had. You never know what you’re capable of until you’re put into a situation.”
Determined to make up for lost time, Josh’s family celebrated Christmas in February since he missed the holiday while in the ICU. Josh also looks forward to getting back out into the world after being in the hospital for so long. He noted shared that his experience has given him a new perspective: “This has really taught me to stay active and not take for granted what I have in life.”