Most of his doctors were not optimistic that he’d be able to leave the hospital at all. And if he did, doctors told Crochet’s wife, he would probably be in a vegetative state.
But after 453 days in the hospital recovering from the virus and an array of complications, Crochet rolled out of the facility in a wheelchair to the cheers of doctors and nurses on time to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas at home for the first time in over a year.
“It was tough for me lying there during Thanksgiving [and] during Christmas because I’m a big holiday person,” Crochet told The Washington Post. “To miss that was tough.”
Crochet headed home in a new phase of the pandemic when, for the first time in the United States, more people who have received at least the primary series of a coronavirus vaccine are dying of covid-19 than those who have not, according to an analysis conducted for The Post’s Health 202 by Cynthia Cox, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. Fifty-eight percent of coronavirus deaths in August were people who were vaccinated or boosted, the analysis showed.
Although the unvaccinated still have a higher chance of dying of covid-19, the disease can kill vaccinated people because the preventive medicine’s efficacy eases over time. U.S. health officials have urged people to keep their vaccinations current by getting booster shots.
Crochet, who did not have preexisting conditions and was fully vaccinated at the time, tested positive in August 2021, his wife, Rachel Crochet, told The Post. A visit to an urgent care center to treat Crochet’s fever and dropping oxygen levels turned into a stay in the hospital’s ICU. He was placed on a ventilator four days later.
He pushed through pneumonia, collapsed lungs, pancreatitis, kidney failure and what appeared to be a never-ending list of virus complications. Every time Crochet started getting better, a new ailment would arise.
“Every organ in his body failed at some point except his heart and his brain,” Rachel Crochet, 70, said. “The doctors looked at me and said, ‘He’s not going to survive.’”
In December, Crochet was transferred to a long-term care facility where things slowly started to look up, but an infection that wasn’t healing properly after another emergency surgery had his doctors postponing his discharge date.
It wasn’t until Nov. 9 that a nurse pushed Dub’s wheelchair through the facility’s hallway while doctors, nurses and family clapped as he approached the exit door. Some held signs reading “Way to go Papa!” and “Dub Crochet. You are my hero” on his way home.
In an interview with Houston-based news station KPRC, Crochet credited the hospital staff and his family. “God bless them,” he told the outlet. “They’re my rock.”
This week, the Crochets hosted Thanksgiving. He sat at one end of the table, surrounded by his wife, children and grandchildren. They ate green beans and sweet potatoes prepared by Crochet himself.
The children made Thanksgiving crafts. They had a small photo shoot. The family turned on the TV to watch some football. For the first time in over a year, things felt normal.
“Did you ever think Papa would be home sitting at the table?” Rachel Crochet recounted a family member asking one of the grandchildren.
“I feel like I’m dreaming.”
McKenzie Beard contributed to this report.