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Pineville man beats COVID-19 twice after ICU stay, begs others to get vaccine

A 66-year-old man is asking everyone to do all they can to protect their lives after he nearly lost his while battling COVID-19.

PINEVILLE, N.C. — A Pineville man is thankful to be alive to tell his story, in hopes of sparing others the scary COVID-19 battle he miraculously survived.

Jim Bishop, 66, and his wife Roxane Bishop were both diagnosed with COVID-19 in November 2020.

Roxane had symptoms, but Jim was asymptomatic. The married couple of 26 years got through the virus. 

When vaccines became available for their age group, both of them signed up to get a shot. Roxane got hers, but Jim waited. 

He said he chose to reschedule the appointment, unfamiliar with the venue where it was given while also assuming he was safe from the antibodies he had. 

"They say that you get four, six, eight months where you still have the antibodies, so it's not really necessary," Bishop explained. "So, I said, 'OK, well if I don't -- somebody else will get that spot who really needs it."

Roughly four months later Bishop started feeling sick again. 

"I just didn't feel good," he said. 

His family never thought a second bout with COVID-19 was possible. 

"No, never. No," his wife said. "Until he was sick for several days."

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He got tested again, and for a second time, he tested positive for COVID-19. 

"I don't really remember much of it," he said as he explained was already experiencing COVID-brain, a condition in which doctors say COVID-19 patients suffer from a brain-fog that can make it hard to remember things or think clearly. 

As the days passed, Bishop got worse. The turning point, Roxane said, was when he collapsed in their bedroom. 

"We looked down on the floor," she said. "And that's what I called John (the couple's son) from the basement. And John came up and said, 'You need to go to the hospital.'"

Bishop was rushed to Atrium Health Pineville by ambulance. He was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) for seven painstaking days. 

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"[Doctors] told me that it was bad," Roxane recalled. "They called me every morning and they called me every afternoon."

Nobody from the family was allowed in to see Bishop due to COVID-19 protocols. 

"It was so hard," Roxane said. "It was so hard not to be able just to call him when I wanted." 

The days in the ICU were as painful as they were scary, the family said. 

"He looked so different. So different," Roxane said. "He got sick in his mouth -- thrush in his mouth. He was so skinny and thin and pale."

At one point he was nearly put on a ventilator. 

"I asked what the survival rate was," Bishop said. 

"Not good," Roxane added. 

"Twenty percent," he noted. "And I said, 'Oh hell no.'"

He knew if he wanted to survive, he had to fight. 

"It was mind over matter," he said. 

Day by day he got better slowly and was eventually and miraculously discharged from the hospital, sent home weak but alive. 

"I'll have COPD for the rest of my life," he said. 

"And he never had any glimpse of that before," Roxane added. "Ever."

It means he will use an inhaler indefinitely, he said, as well as a device to check his oxygen levels. 

However, they are after-effects of COVID-19 he will gladly live with since it means he's still here to live. 

Bishop said his experience has humbled him; he said he is grateful he's alive to share it in hopes of motivating people to do everything they can to protect themselves. 

"Just get the shot," he said. 

"It's not a game to mess around with," his son added. "It's not something to play with. It's serious."

Contact Hunter Sáenz at hsaenz@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.