By Marcy Patterson
A miracle is defined by Oxford Languages as, “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.”
One might interpret it as a larger power intervening in a human situation. For those so inclined, take a minute to thank God and celebrate that Andy Coop of Jacksonville, was blessed with a miracle. With the skilled medical help from Dr. Daniel Hallam and his team at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital, the healing of Coop is being called the miracle of the season.
His story begins when he and his wife, April, were making major life changes. They sold their family home and closed one of their businesses, Annabel Lee’s Tea Room and Boutique. He also retired after 20 years with the Jacksonville Police Department and had started working in an administration position with the Illinois State Police.
On Wednesday, July 28, Coop was in his new office. He had a mild cough and didn’t think anything about it, soothing his scratchy throat with a piece of candy. The day progressed and when he left work, he made a pitstop before heading home to work on another property he was updating. Then Coop’s son, Alex, stopped in for a visit and they shared a Casey’s pizza to end the day. Shortly after the pizza, Coop remembers, “Something changed, I felt sick. I woke up the next morning and I had a fever.” Coop tested for COVID-19 on Thursday and received his positive test results on Saturday.
He called his doctor for medical guidance and learned the virus would run its course for 10 to 14 days and he was advised to use Ibuprofen for the fever. Ten days later, Coop still suffered from a fever and an all-around state of malaise. So, he went to the doctor and received a chest x-ray and bloodwork. He was diagnosed with pneumonia in his right lung and given a Z-Pak. The next day, however, the simple task of walking up a short flight of steps caused him to be completely out of breath. His family went to Walgreens and purchased him a pulse oximetry machine, a small device that indicates the oxygen levels in your blood in percentage. His first reading was 84%. According to the Mayo Clinic, normal pulse oximeter readings range from 95 to 100%. Values under 90% are considered low. The reading caused Coop to call his sister, Angela Tranbarger, a respiratory therapist. She quickly responded, “That cannot be right,” and convinced him to go to the emergency department. When he was admitted to the ER, he felt safe and surrounded by friends. Nurses Wendy Easton and Michelle York were part of the team along with Dr. Gene Shafer, a beloved local emergency room physician. Coop said, “These were friends that I have worked with my entire career. They took great care of me and urgently recognized how sick I was.” This was on August 8.
On August 14, Coop was placed on a ventilator and moved to the Intensive Care Unit under the care of Hallam, but he doesn’t remember many of the details surrounding that event. “I remember being too tired to breathe and asking to be put on the vent. There was a doctor that kept telling me to prone [lying on one’s belly] and I wasn’t able to do that, so I just quit. I remember a doctor that is a friend of our family hugging me and telling me I would be ok.”
Coop’s sister started a Facebook blog for their family and many in the community began following and anxiously waiting for her updates. Very quickly, it seemed that Coop was a critical patient and wouldn’t survive the havoc that COVID-19 had caused to his lungs. They were deeply damaged –well over 90%. Many dreaded a post that would share that Coop didn’t survive.
AUGUST 20 BLOG ENTRY
Andy Coop update. We had a setback last night. Today is a really good day to pray. His lungs need to turn around- basically on their own. He is still holding- but his settings need to increase a bit. Some of this is expected. Honestly- we need God. Say your prayers. We need healing signs and his body to start responding again in the right direction. Today we pray. I may update later when they settle on settings- the balancing game continues.
AUGUST 24 BLOG ENTRY
Update Andy Coop style: Andy is taking baby steps in the right direction. We wanted to just maintain for a few days to allow healing. But typical Andy- he exceeds expectations. Nothing huge- oxygen is down- but WE will take it! We are feeling good about this- he remains in a very fragile place. We know you all have played a part and we are back on track. Remind us often how blessed we are. We are an impatient bunch!!! Continue with prayers please. Thank you so much for your beautiful support.
AUGUST 26 BLOG ENTRY
Andy Coop. Update # way too many- I’m going to admit. Today has not been easy. We were hopeful we could make some progress- it’s not meant to be. Short story-I have a beautiful friend. A lovely soul that is so smart and knowledgeable- she works in a huge hospital… she said this- “Angie- you need to think of these lateral days- the days that no progress is made- as healing days. Andy’s lungs are healing when they aren’t working. “ She knows what I need. And when I need it. Thank you Debbie Anders. You are a gift. And I love you. We wait. And we pray. And we love. Our family is learning who we are meant to be. What life is about. How important God is in our lives- faith. We are where we need to be. We have faith. And we will get there! One step at a time. Keep it up. Keep praying. Keep telling us he is coming home. We love that and feel so comfortable about that. We need you more than ever. Stay with us!!!! Andy is coming home. It’s a long road.
AUGUST 28 BLOG ENTRY
Andy Coop update: up and down we go climbing the same hill on this roller coaster we never bought tickets for. Andy made so much progress yesterday and this am. Then- out of nowhere- his heart decided to misbehave. So- meds. They didn’t work. Different meds. BINGO. We are back on track. I’m going to call this – 3 steps forward and one step back. So- COOPs are ahead. And this is how it is done. We continue every step with him. Every breath. Every stumble. We will get there. Tomorrow is a new day! More prayers- I’m not proud- we need them please. The support and love- please know how much we appreciate all of you. Thanks so much. This am Roger Davis came and prayed with us. His calm was beautiful. Thanks Roger. It was a lovely visit.
AUGUST 29 BLOG ENTRY
Another day in the books with Andy Coop’ s walk through covid hell. Today has been a big circle. Up and down and all around and basically back to where we started. We are going to count this as a healing day. Not much Change at all. I’m feeling tonight he is settling in and they can work on weaning his oxygen. Tomorrow is a new day- our prayers and love continue- and, as always- we appreciate all of the support, kindness, love, prayers, good vibes and positive messages. Thanks so much- each and every single one of you.
SEPTEMBER 3 BLOG ENTRY
Our Friday night update Andy Coop style: Andy is on PEEP 8. He is off his paralytic- this is HUGE! We were at this point before and he lost a lot of ground. This time he is doing beautifully. He is tolerating everything so much better. We are so happy- our hearts are so full. Still in the battle- but it’s looking so good. Keep ‘em coming troops! COOP troop is winning! More prayers. More love. More good vibes. Life is amazing!!
SEPTEMBER 4 BLOG ENTRY
Andy Coop. Our superhero- HE has moved mountains in the past 48 hours. He is doing most of the breathing on his own- still on the vent but MINIMAL settings. He is getting sedation- but a lot less of it. No paralytic for more than 24 hours. He is comfortable and stable. I want to scream to the heavens- COMFORTABLE and STABLE!!! We are making so much progress I taste success. Shhhhh. Let’s finish this quietly- keep up what you are doing- this right here is a miracle we are witnessing!
SEPTEMBER 5 BLOG ENTRY
Today. Andy Coop. Is. EXTUBATED. That’s what I said. No vent. On oxygen and flow-airvo. He is doing well- this is very fresh – so praying to continue in this beautiful direction. We are going to THANK GOD for these blessings. He looks absolutely BEAUTIFUL! BEST DAY EVER!!!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!
Coop was on a ventilator at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for 22 days. During that time there were no beds available at higher level of care facilities, such as Memorial Medical Center to transfer him.
Registered Nurse Kayla Knox shared, “I took care of Andy Coop while he was in the ICU Room 9 for quite a while, many days at the hospital … [he was on] ventilator life support for multiple days.” Knox talked to his wife, April, and his sister, Angie. She set up Stratus so they could Facetime him. Coop’s wife would ask Knox to go in and tell him the same things every single time … that she was thinking of him, she loved him very much, that everyone was praying for him and that he had to pull through this. April Coop had told her how much her husband loved country music as well, so Knox said, “I would find a way to put my cell phone in a zip lock back and play country music while I was bathing him.”
Knox voiced, “We have lost so many people to this awful thing. We needed someone to pull through.”
“Once we lightened up the sedation, I remember the first time he opened his eyes. I got to call April. She was so excited. After that, I always played country music when I was in there. He had a great visual response to that. It was nice to see that,” adds Knox.
“His case is different because there were many days that we did make progress with him, he fought like hell, but we would take 20 steps forward and 30 steps back. We had to progressively go up on his ventilator settings after giving him more pressure support. Every change knocked us all back down emotionally. The consensus of our team was we didn’t think he would survive this. After two or three weeks of being on the ventilator and still needing increased settings, we didn’t give up … we never give up on our patients, but we had trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The next day Andy Coop remembers after that foggy August 14 day when he was transferred to the ICU is sometime around September 6. He was out of isolation.
“My family had the opportunity to visit … when they were first called by Dr. Hallam and allowed the opportunity to visit, they believed it was to say goodbye to me,” recalls Coop. Instead, it was an opportunity to love him and cheer him on in his recovery.
Knox says it was her favorite memory … the day he was taken off of the ventilator. “All of our COVID patients were taken out of isolation that day. Infection prevention measures allowed visitors. I saw on Facebook update that he was extubated. I came in on my day off to see it for myself. I waved at him. I met April in person and gave him a hug. My coworkers Amy, Katie and Evan bawled our eyes out in the nurse’s station … We witnessed a miracle. We all celebrated his victory.” Andy Coop remembers his wife April rubbing Blistex on his lips. At some point he remembers his mom, Kaye Coop, with his sister as the two were rubbing and manipulating his hands. “It felt weird and good all at the same time, as though I was learning again how to use them. Hospital staff told me I was a miracle. At least one person cried and told me COVID-19 had defeated her career and me living allowed her to want to continue to be a nurse.”
SEPTEMBER 6 BLOG ENTRY
Today with Andy Coop. Andy is able to have us visit. One family member at a time – we are able to be with him. He continues to astonish the medical staff with what he can do. He is very foggy in his thinking- to be expected. He gets his point across very well. His numbers are wonderful- and we are still putting one foot in front of the other as we make our way home. We will be here a while- as long as it takes but we are well on our way. Slowly. Faithfully. Lovingly. Keep us in your prayers- this miracle is unfolding beautifully
SEPTEMBER 17 BLOG ENTRY
Andy Coop update by request. It’s been an awesome week for COOPS. Andy has gained a LOT of ground. The difference between when I leave and when I come back is amazing. The beginning of the week the man couldn’t hold his own head up or talk. Now he is taking steps. Sitting on the side of the bed- and cracking me UP! Michael Coop called tonight, and I listened to the two of them. They are hilarious. We continue to make progress as we pave our way OUT. Not there yet- but LAWDY! We have traveled so far! Andy has his phone. He can chat and maybe a text or two. We are one blessed family and will be eternally grateful to all for this gift of keeping him.
Knox recalls, “All he wanted was to go home. When I saw that happen, I cried. I saw a miracle. He had an amazing support system. He had so many people praying for him. They never lost hope; they never gave up no matter how negative the information I had to share. COVID has taken that away from many families.”
Coop was released from the hospital and is being treated for lung damage. When the pulmonologist showed him an MRI of his chest, it was clarified that the black area seen is healthy, while the white area is damaged lung. His MRI showed primarily white areas; the pulmonologist explained people with this level of lung damage do not survive. Yet, his lungs are back up to 50% functioning currently. He no longer needs to use oxygen every day and he hopes to return to work with the Illinois State Police at the beginning of 2022.
Coop was not vaccinated against COVID-19. Since then, he has been vaccinated. Many people have told him they have been vaccinated because of how sick he was, saying they don’t want to go through what he went through and if the vaccine could stop that, they were willing to take it.
It is hard for Coop to believe that he had been living through and fighting this, he says. ”I was on a ventilator and unaware what was going on. My wife, April, and my kids (Luke, Kaylee and Alex) lived through this. My parents (Harry and Kaye Coop); my sister, Angie; and my brother, Mike; they lived through it and fought for me every day. They gathered up an entire community to support and pray for us. The love has been overwhelming. My pastor, Roger Davis, has been there every step of the way. My co-workers at the Illinois State Police paid for our family to have our health insurance. Gifts, food, donations, prayers … they have been overwhelming and constant. I am so thankful for the love and support of my family and the amazing care I was given by the staff at Jacksonville Memorial Hospital. My friend and classmate (Kelly Jacobs) died while I was healing. Us being sick at the same time was a terrible time for many people in the Routt community. Our family is praying for her family. Having the opportunity to have this miracle and be healed is going to make me a different person. I am going to serve God and be the friend to people that they were to me and my family. I am trying to get back to work so I can pay it forward and get on with the plan God has for me and my family.”
Andy Coop’s medical story is truly a miracle. What brighter blessing can come from Coop than his want to get back to work so that he can pay his miracle forward –to be the vessel in carrying out God’s plan for him and his family. Miracles do exist.