COVID Survivor Delivering 43-Day Thank You to Wyoming Medical Center
He should have died.
That's what Daren Bulow will tell you if you sit down to talk with him. A year ago, that wouldn't have been possible. You wouldn't have been able to sit anywhere near Bulow, let alone speak with him.
That's because he was intubated, and on a ventilator, clinging to life after contracting COVID-19 in October of 2020.
For 21 days, Bulow was on a ventilator. His wife Christine was not sure if he was going to make it.
“He is coming back from the dead,” Christine said. “There were times that he was going to die in the hospital. And then, even when he got to [the rehab hospital], he couldn’t walk and he could hardly hold up his head. So they’ve done amazing things with him in the almost 30 days that he’s been here. He’s come a long way. He’s got a strong heart, soul, and will to live. We’re the lucky ones.”
Bulow survived and he thanks God for that. But he also thanks the staff of the Wyoming Medical Center.
“In my experience at both Wyoming Medical Center and at Casper Mountain Rehabilitation & Care Center, there is just no better care,” he said. “It was incredible. From the interns, to the specialists, to the doctors and nurses. I called my physical therapist my guardian angel. They were all so kind and so generous and so talented.”
Bulow survived. He reunited with his wife after weeks of physical therapy. And then he went home, and he went back to his 'Life As He Knew It.'
And now, a year later, Bulow wants to tell the staff of Wyoming Medical Center thank you, one more time. Actually, it's not one more time. Or two more times. Or three or four or five more times.
Daren Bulow is thanking the doctors and the nurses, and the interns, and the physical therapists of Wyoming Medical Center 43 times, over 43 days.
Every day, from September 25 to November 5, Daren Bulow and his wife Christine stand outside Wyoming Medical Center with signs, thanking the staff of the hospital for saving his life.
"I call it 43 Days of Heroes, because that's how long I was in the hospital," Bulow explained. "Every night, the last face they get to see is mine. No matter how horrible their shift, they get to see a sign that says 'Thank you.'"
Bulow said originally he wanted to perform a comedy show for the staff (he is known as the 'Hunting and Fishing Comedian' in Casper and has performed at various gigs within the community and beyond), but schedules and COVID precautions and a variety of other factors made that impossible to pull off. So he came up with a Plan B, and it's an extremely effective one.
"For me, it's a big deal because I get to see people that took care of me, that I haven't been in touch with since then," Bulow stated. "It just makes me happy, because they're smiling. They ask to take pictures of my sign. They tell me 'I took care of you' I met the nurse that intubated me and I met one of the nurses that was feeding me. I met a nurse that took care of me in the ICU. My wife met one of the doctors who changed the settings on my ventilator that eventually got me off the ventilator. How do you say 'Thank you' to that but to hold up a sign that says 'Thank you, you're responsible for saving my life?'"
Bulow said that every evening, from 5:45 p.m. to around 7:00 p.m., he and his wife stand outside Wyoming Medical Center. That way, they get the staff coming off of the day shift and the staff coming onto the night shift.
"By seven o'clock, the majority of the people have left," Bulow said. "Shift change is at six thirty. These people get off at six thirty but many of them don't leave until almost seven o'clock, because they feel responsible for their patients, so they stay extra to make sure they get that care."
Bulow said that he's honored to serve as a reminder to these people that what they do matters.
"Last night, somebody told me 'You're getting Facebook famous,' and I said that I didn't care," Bulow stated. "My whole job here, my whole thing is to make these people smile and to make sure that, when they go home, they know that they're appreciated. I've talked to a lot of nurses and they can't even go on Facebook anymore because they're told every kind of conspiracy theory- that it's not real, that vaccines don't work, etc. But they're in the trenches every day. So they've told me they just delete social media, because it's so tough on them. So this is my way of saying 'Thank you.'"
Bulow said that his life also serves as a reminder of how scary COVID-19 can be. Despite what social media experts are saying in the comments sections, COVID-19 is real and the consequences of it oftentimes lead to death. Bulow was lucky. Thousands of others aren't.
"Please, wear your mask," he pleaded. "Get vaccinated."
And give healthcare workers a break.
"The negativity affects these people," Bulow said. "But I just want to convey that these people treated me wonderfully. Somebody needs to show them appreciation, because they're not getting it. So I just want to make them feel special. I want to make them smile."
Video of Daren Bulow reuniting with his wife after 3 months apart can be seen below: