Kettwick shares experience with COVID-19

Troy Kettwick, right, is back home with fiancée Rachel Rolling in the Twin Cities, after spending 23 days in the hospital battling COVID-19.

Troy Kettwick is on the road to recovery from COVID-19, after his battle with the illness inspired the North Iowa community to rally around his family. Troy was hospitalized in Saint Paul for 23 days, including 12 days on a ventilator, and he’s now recovering at home.

Troy says he started getting sick on Friday, March 20, when he first noticed very minor flu-like symptoms, including drowsiness and a minor headache. His symptoms got worse over the weekend, and by Monday, March 23, he had a temperature of over 103 degrees. That’s when his fiancée, Rachel Rolling, decided it was time to get him to an urgent care facility.

“Even though I was very sick, it never really crossed my mind that this could be COVID-19,” said Troy.

He went to United Hospital in Saint Paul, where they ran respiratory tests and gave him antibiotics in case it turned out to be a bacterial infection. “My condition worsened very quickly and there was no other choice but to put me on the ventilator,” said Troy.

He was eventually diagnosed with COVID-19, and Troy says he has no idea where he might have picked up the virus. He also doesn’t have any underlying health conditions that are thought to put people at greater risk to the disease.

Troy doesn’t remember anything from the 12 days he spent on the ventilator, as he was heavily sedated. When he finally came off the ventilator on April 7, he says he had no idea what he had just been through or how long he was under anesthesia. “When the doctor told me it was April 7, I didn’t believe him,” said Troy.

While at the hospital, Troy was unable to have any visitors, due to restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. “It was difficult not being able to have family or friends come visit, but of course it was the safest thing to do,” said Troy. “I was very fortunate to have an amazing staff of doctors and nurses at my side throughout the entire time I was at United Hospital in Saint Paul.”

Finally on April 15, after 23 days in the hospital, Troy was able to go home. He’s been officially cleared of all COVID-19 symptoms, but he says he’s still on the road to recovery. “I am still dealing with a scratchy voice from being on the ventilator, and I have a long road of building my physical stamina back up,” said Troy.

He’s still off work from his job at C4 Technical Services in Saint Paul. He says his employers have been very understanding and are allowing him to take the time he needs to get back into the swing of things.

While Troy was in the midst of his ordeal at the hospital on March 31, something very special was happening back in his hometown of Buffalo Center. His brothers, Ross and Drew, wanted to provide some encouragement for their parents, Mike and Carole Kettwick, so they organized a “surprise dusk drive by” and their parents’ house that evening. The community response was tremendous, as at least 265 vehicles turned out for the event – many with signs or banners with words of encouragement. Troy’s brothers collected videos and photos of the event to share with Troy when he came off the ventilator.

“My brothers, Ross and Drew, have always supported me in everything I do, and for them to organize something as special as the drive-by ended up being, I will never be able to thank them enough,” said Troy. He says he could turn to videos and pictures from the event if he was ever feeling a little down in the hospital.

“I was absolutely blown away by the amount of people that sent their prayers and support while I was in the hospital. Not only to me, but to my family and fiancée as well,” said Troy. “This was a very difficult time for them as well, and I am extremely grateful to the amazing people of North Iowa to come together and give them a great showing of support.”

As Troy recovers from his stay in the hospital, he and Rachel are looking forward to their upcoming wedding. Their ceremony is scheduled for August 15, and they’re hoping they can keep that date, but they’ll be watching government guidelines. “After everything that has happened, we are hoping to be able to celebrate with all of our friends and family!” said Troy.