Faith helps local couple fight coronavirus

Photo Special to The Record
William and Mary Holder smiled in this photo taken last year on Thurby, the Thursday before the Kentucky Derby. William Holder recently recovered from Covid-19 and credits his faith and church community with helping him heal.

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
When William Holder, a COVID-19 patient, was brought into the University of Louisville Jewish Hospital March 27, it felt like “walking the green mile,” but faith in God saw him through.

“It was weird. It was almost like walking the green mile. Everyone watched me. They closed the door and I saw them place a sign on it,” said Holder in a recent phone interview.

He could tell that the doctors, nurses and other hospital staff were scared, but “cautious and professional,” said Holder, 52, who has since returned home.

“They got geared up in these yellow suits and face shields every time they came in” the room, he said. “I could see it was a chore mentally and physically (for them). I was sick with something that could easily jump from me to them.”

The owner of a small networking and information technology company, Holder was working in New Jersey in early to mid- March when he contracted the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19.

Holder said when he left Louisville for New Jersey, people were talking about doing elbow bumps instead of handshakes, but his stay in New Jersey was extended by a week and he soon found himself “in the thick of it,” he said. The state of New Jersey was beginning to shut down and a curfew was put in place.

On March 17 he became sick with a fever. He called his wife, Mary, from his New Jersey hotel room to tell her he thought he’d caught the virus.

“I kid a lot. She thought I was kidding,” he said. He wasn’t.

On March 19, after calling his doctor, who instructed him to self-quarantine, Holder drove home to Louisville.

As her husband was traveling home, Mary, who has a history of respiratory illness, moved out of their home to avoid infection. She moved in with one of the couple’s six children and has remained there.

What followed was 13 days of fever and illness like he’d never known, said Holder. He wasn’t eating or drinking water and his blood pressure plummeted.

There were several instances when he lost consciousness and collapsed. One day he woke up with a busted lip and a gash in his hip — injuries he’d sustained after fainting and falling to the floor. His body shed 30 pounds during the almost three-week ordeal.

“This is not the flu. This is 20 times worse than the flu,” he said, noting that he’s fairly healthy overall but does take medication for high blood pressure.

He finally called 911 on March 27. When the emergency workers arrived to transport him to the hospital, Holder was standing at the door wearing gloves and a mask.

“I didn’t want them to come in and do more than they had to,” he said. “I could see in their faces that they were scared. They thanked me for wearing a mask.”

At the hospital, he was given fluids and his blood pressure and oxygen levels were monitored. He didn’t need a ventilator like so many COVID-19 patients, he said.

On March 29, he was released from the hospital and an ambulance carried him home.

Photo Special to The Record
William and Mary Holder are seen in this photo taken last Christmas. William Holder recently recovered after contracting the coronavirus while working in New Jersey in early March.

William and Mary Holder said their faith and the community of St. Augustine Church, where they are members, helped carry them through.

“Once I was home alone and I realized it was going to be a journey and what I was dealing with was different from the norm, I prayed,” said William Holder. “I also have a praying family. My wife said, ‘You’re going to be OK, God has work for you to do still.’ ”

Mary Holder said once the news circulated that her husband was sick, the family was flooded with emails, text messages and calls from parishioners concerned about his well being.

“Deacon James Turner called every day to check on us. I feel blessed and loved, and that feeling is what we needed to get through this,” she said.

Many prayers were said, too, she noted. Individuals organized prayer groups and she prayed, as well.
“ ‘Thy will be done,’ is what I live by. I didn’t want anything to happen to my husband but it was God’s will,” said Mary Holder. “I prayed for the doctors and nurses every day.”

Mary Holder said she believes the “key to healing is faith in God. God had his arms wrapped around him,” she said.
Not being there to hold her husband’s hand through this was difficult, she said. Now that he’s recovered, they are in the process of sanitizing their house so she can move back in.

William Holder said the Department of Public Health has released him from quarantine, but he is still cautious. He’s still not seeing members of his family, including his six grandchildren. When he’s out in public he wears a mask.

“I’m a living witness that it (the coronavirus) is real. Even if you are fairly healthy it can get you in trouble or get an older loved one in trouble” he said. “Sometimes we think what we’re doing is overkill, but it is not. We’re keeping Louisville from becoming like New Jersey or New York.”

He is urging others to take precautions and follow the guidelines set by local government officials.

To learn more about how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, visit https://govstatus.egov.com/kycovid19.

Ruby Thomas
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Ruby Thomas
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