A date in a rehab therapy gym might not sound romantic, but for June and Glenn Troyer, it was a sweet reunion.
After 62 years of marriage, the Troyers still hold hands. They do everything together.
They even got COVID-19 at the same time.
Their illness separated them for 10 days, as they recovered in separate hospital rooms.
On day 10, when their quarantines lifted, their physical therapist at the Inpatient Rehabilitation Center at Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital arranged a date.
She made sure June and Glenn arrived at the gym at the same time for their physical therapy exercises.
“It was wonderful,” Glenn said, as he sat near his wife, June. “It was so good to see her.”
June agreed enthusiastically.
“Wonderful!” she exclaimed. “We have talked on the phone, but that is not like seeing each other.”
Bringing the Troyers together touched the hearts of the therapy team at the rehabilitation center, Linda Rusiecki, PT, said.
“I can tell they really love each other and have a happy marriage,” she said. “They like to do a lot of fun things together and they care very much about their family.”
‘A sneaky, sneaky disease’
June, 83, and Glenn, 85, first showed signs of illness on Oct. 31.
“I thought it was just a little cold, but it kept getting worse,” Glenn said.
As they became progressively weaker, it became difficult to get out of bed and walk across the room. Glenn worried especially about June, who has diabetes.
“I called her doctor’s office, and they said to get her into emergency,” he said.
On Nov. 10, Glenn and June went to a local hospital—in separate ambulances. That’s when they learned they had COVID-19.
“I was surprised,” Glenn said. “I had no idea where we got it. It’s a sneaky, sneaky disease.”
As they recovered in separate hospital rooms, June and Glenn talked on the phone every day. And their nurses kept them informed about each other’s progress.
“But we missed not being together and going to the grocery store or going to church,” June said.
Five days later, both felt healthy enough to leave the hospital, but after two weeks of illness, they needed to rebuild their strength. On the same day, they transferred to the Inpatient Rehabilitation Center at Blodgett for therapy.
Glenn was familiar with the place. Before his retirement, he worked 15 years as director of environmental services at Blodgett Hospital.
They did therapy exercises in their separate rooms until Nov. 20, when their quarantine lifted. That’s when Rusiecki arranged for them to reunite.
“They were both here with the same diagnosis and needed the same exercises, so we said, ‘Why not?’” she said.
As with many people recovering from COVID-19, June and Glenn needed to work on improving their endurance, strength and balance.
“Usually with COVID-19 patients, they have increased heart rates and decreased oxygen saturation in their blood, and they need to take rest breaks more often,” Rusiecki said.
Both returned to their “baseline level of function” after five days of therapy, she said.
On Nov. 24, June and Glenn went home together—two days before Thanksgiving, a month before Christmas.
And in keeping with the holiday season, gratitude filled their hearts.
“I give God the glory for our recovery,” Glenn said.
He also thanked the doctors, nurses, nurse technicians, and respiratory, occupational and physical therapists who helped them recover.
“We are so thankful for all that transpired,” he said.
June and Glenn look forward to the day they can resume their usual activities, such as spending time with their son and daughter and two grandchildren, and traveling to their time-share unit in Branson, Missouri. In the meantime, they don’t mind staying home.
“We love each other and we have fun together, so things will work out,” June said. “We will just be together and enjoy life for a while.”
Their daughter, Karen Ladman, found it difficult to see her parents go through this tough chapter.
“They are wonderful parents and have a wonderful relationship. They fit together so well,” she said. “I was scared for them, and I am really grateful they are continuing to improve.”
‘Wear the mask’
Their medical team also took heart in the couple’s recovery.
“With COVID-19, we hear so many negative things. It’s nice to see that even an elderly couple are able to overcome the odds,” Rusiecki said. “Even though they were hospitalized, they were able to make gains and get back to the things and people they love.”
The Troyers took precautions to avoid the virus. They rarely went out, and when they did, they wore face masks. Some people around them, however, did not always wear masks.
Their illness drives home the importance for everyone to wear face masks to curb the spread of the virus.
“There is a common misconception that you wear a mask just to protect yourself,” Rusiecki said. “You also wear the mask to protect other people. Wearing a mask is one thing you can do to show people at risk that you care and you are looking out for them.”
Glenn urged others take precautions to avoid COVID-19 and to seek medical help if they become sick.
“It’s a bad thing,” he said. “When you start to get symptoms, have it checked out right away.”