A Seguin firefighter and his family are seeing firsthand some of the after effects COVID-19 has on patients.
They are also finding out how extended their family is, and the dedication it has to helping the couple get through these difficult times.
Seguin firefighter Peter Gibson has served the community for about five years with the Seguin Fire Department. Earlier this year, Peter and his wife Chrissy tested positive for COVID-19.
While Peter’s symptoms were relatively minor, Chrissy had a tougher go.
“My wife had all of the problems, all of the respiratory stuff,” he said. “Being a paramedic, we were able to treat her at home.”
While the respiratory issues diminished, Chrissy began presenting other problems.
“She started having issues with cognitive function, memory loss, an abnormal gait — she was walking real funny — it really progressed from that into barely getting two words out,” he said. “It got really bad.”
Chrissy was hospitalized, but the couple didn’t get any answers as to what was happening.
“She was obviously having problems, but they weren’t sure how to diagnosis anything,” Peter said.
Chrissy began treatment at a post-COVID recovery clinic in San Antonio. It has helped some, Peter said.
“We go there and it’s helping, but her symptoms are very severe,” he said. “She’s had a headache for 180 days and still has problems with memory. Her memory has gotten better.”
Peter admitted that it is difficult seeing his wife in constant pain, unable to remember things in short term and him unable to help her.
Peter has taken to researching and reaching out to doctors across the country to try to get answers for his wife.
“That is really probably the hardest thing — the not knowing,” he said. “With all of the testing that, there are things that they can quantify and tell that she’s had inflammation in her body, but beyond that they haven’t been able to really find out more than that.”
He was put in contact with a neuroinfectious disease specialist in St. Louis and Chrissy has an appointment to see him this month.
“We have a couple-day appointment,” Peter said. “He really has a diagnostic plan worked out already for things he’s looking at.
“It really has been the most difficult part, the unknown.”
Prior to the start of the pandemic, the couple enjoyed evenings out dancing, being with friends. However, things have changed, and they’re not sure if this is temporary or permanent.
“It really changed our life,” Peter said. “It’s difficult, for sure. But one of the most amazing things coming out of this is seeing all of the love and support from everybody. It is really humbling.”
The couple has laid out plans for emergency situations, taken routes to save money during the shutdowns that put Chrissy out of work, and has insurance. However, it doesn’t cover everything, and that’s where his fire family has stepped in.
The Seguin Professional Firefighters Association is hosting a raffle to help the couple with added expenses, SPFFA Secretary Kurtis Kernan said.
The idea to help the couple came after a visit to the Gibsons’ home, Kernan said.
“One day, he asked hey, can we go by and check on her,” Kernan said. “We went over and, normally, she’s up, moving around, active, talking. We hadn’t seen her in a while and when we showed up we realized how serious it was. There are just so many unknowns.”
The association discussed ways to help the couple and came up with the safest option — a raffle with the drawing done live albeit, virtually.
“With COVID, we didn’t want to have a big live drawing, so we figured we would do everything online through Facebook live,” Kernan said.
Members of the association visited local businesses and were able to gather several items to raffle off.
“All kinds of people have stepped up to help us out,” he said.
Items include a Savage 110 Hunter 30-06; a Beretta A300 Outlander 12-gauge shotgun; Kendra Scott necklace and earrings; RTIC 45-quart tan cooler; custom 6-foot farmhouse dinning table; cigar gift set and more.
Kernan said it was only natural for the association to step up and help out.
“We’re one big family,” he said. We hang out outside of work. We spend a third of our lives together. Our wives know each other, our kids know each other, we’re just one big family. If one is struggling, everybody gathers around them and tries to help them out as much as possible.
“Peter is such a nice guy and his wife is such a nice woman, we just knew we had to do something.”
When the association came to Peter with the idea, he struggled with the idea of accepting help.
“I’m a proud person. I’ve worked very hard all of my life,” he said. “At first, I was very reluctant, just because, I’m a proud person and I want to provide for my own. After thinking about it for a little bit, and just thinking how many people are going above in wanting to help out, it made me look at it in a different way and accept the help. It is very humbling to see the love and support that we’ve received.”
Tickets are $20 each and are available for purchase online at bit.ly/39lzZXp or in person at the Seguin Fire Administration Office, 650 State Highway 46 South.
The live drawing is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15 on the Seguin Professional Firefighters L4122 Facebook page.
Peter encourages everyone to take precautions because there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to COVID-19.
“What I would really love to tell everybody is when you look at this, you can be like me and be very minorly affected,” he said. “Or you can be like her. She doesn’t have the lingering respiratory problems, but look what happened to her. You’ve got to be careful. We don’t know anything about this and we don’t understand why some people get it so bad like my wife or so mild like me.”