Few of us know what it’s like to nearly die, to have our closest family members warned of our possible death, and then—to survive.
Soon after Karl Danneberger woke up from being unconscious for two weeks, he asked a doctor what had happened to him.
“You’ve been to hell and back,” the doctor said, “and we’re sure glad you’re back with us.”
Danneberger doesn’t remember much of that hell. It started as a cough and a low-grade fever for the CFAES professor.
Just a day earlier, Danneberger had gone to work and felt fine. As he coughed more, his wife, Sallie, urged him to go the doctor.
Wait another day, he kept telling her, thinking he’d surely start to feel better in a day. Tomorrow, he said. Tomorrow, we can go.
On March 16, he entered the hospital and didn’t walk out for a month. A test showed he had COVID-19.
In a bed surrounded by glass, Danneberger was watched closely. Four days after Danneberger was placed on a ventilator, his doctor told Sallie he might not make it out.
At 65, Danneberger has taught thousands of students over three decades about the science of taking care of golf courses and other sport fields, and he’s traveled the world to consult about golf courses.
Two weeks after Danneberger was heavily sedated and placed on a ventilator, he woke up—amazing doctors, his wife and two sons, as well as his coworkers and friends around the world. Very excited, a nurse danced in the hallway outside Danneberger’s room.
Looking around his hospital room, Danneberger asked a nurse where he was. She put the question back to him: “Where do you think you are?”
Through one window, he could see a large Block O on the side of a building—“At OSU Medical Center?”
“That’s right,” the nurse said.
For so much, Danneberger is grateful, which is why he was thrilled to have donated plasma for patients with COVID-19, in hopes that they too would be able to beat the disease.
“Considering I should be dead, I’m quite thankful for where I’m at,” he said. He’s thankful for the medical staff who helped him, the calls and emails from friends and colleagues, and the support of his family burdened for weeks with the thought that he might not survive.