Peggy Jahn at her home Thursday in Marysville. Jahn recovered from COVID-19, spending three weeks on a ventilator, and now walks 10,000 steps a day. She was one of Snohomish County’s early cases. Admitted March 14, she spent 42 days at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Peggy Jahn at her home Thursday in Marysville. Jahn recovered from COVID-19, spending three weeks on a ventilator, and now walks 10,000 steps a day. She was one of Snohomish County’s early cases. Admitted March 14, she spent 42 days at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Purchase Photo

Once on a ventilator, she’s testament to life after COVID

Peggy Jahn spent six weeks in the hospital. These days, she’s climbing a ladder to paint the bedroom.

When a chaplain called the other day, he asked if Steve and Peggy Jahn might be willing to speak with a woman whose husband was in the hospital critically ill with COVID-19.

She was distraught, and the chaplain reasoned perhaps they could provide a message of hope.

Peggy dialed and introduced herself before handing the phone to her husband.

Her friendly voice in and of itself served as a kind of testimonial to life after the virus, even in a dire case of infection.

Peggy Jahn, 62, was one of Snohomish County’s early COVID patients. Admitted March 14, she spent 42 days at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, mostly in intensive care, including 25 on a ventilator.

During that time, Steve fretted, prayed and problem-solved. He shared with the woman what it was like to support a loved one he could seldom see because of pandemic-driven restrictions on hospital visitations. He understood that powerless, stuck-at-home feeling she was now experiencing.

In many ways, Peggy is convinced she had the easier road than Steve and their grown children. Her mind was blank while a machine kept her alive; their days were filled with the reality, and often a likelihood, that they could lose her any moment.

“I have questioned, why did I survive?” she said. “Why was I so blessed to be here and be so healthy?”

It is a question she can’t answer.

What she can do is share her gratitude: to Steve and the kids, to friends who watched out for her family when she could not, to her church community and to complete strangers, many in masks and hospital gowns who came and went by her bedside as her body fought the virus.

She knows that many in the medical community are exhausted these days from the relentless waves of COVID patients. The Marysville-area woman thinks about them as she does her best to make the most of a second chance at life.

“They are my heroes,” she said. “I am here because of them.”

Peggy considers herself fortunate. Yes, her throat still feels raspy from the tubes that allowed her to breathe and she calls all the hair she lost her trophy. But her vision is good, her mind is clear, her sense of smell intact.

Recovery has been daunting and successful. Her body atrophied from the weeks of stillness, she had to learn to walk again. The first time she was asked to take a step in the hospital, her legs were unwilling. She strained just to lift her toes.

Nine months later, she’s doing 45-minute American Heart Association workouts via YouTube and she makes sure that the ring icon closes on her Apple watch each day to document her 10,000 steps. She is healthier now than before her illness.

Last week found her up a ladder in a bedroom with a paint brush.

Later this week, around the time of her 32nd anniversary, she will keep a hospital-room promise she made to Steve and renew her wedding vows.

Eric Stevick: stevick@heraldnet.com

Talk to us

More in Local News

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee speaks with special ed Pre-K teacher Michelle Ling in her classroom at Phantom Lake Elementary School in Bellevue, Wash. Tuesday, March 2, 2021. (Ellen M. Banner/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool)
Governor: Educators are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine

“This should give educators more confidence,” Jay Inslee said. Other frontline workers could soon be next.

A view of the courtyard leading to the main entrance of the new Stanwood High building on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2020 in Stanwood, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Law gives Washington high school seniors leeway to graduate

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that can waive some requirements for students who were on track before the pandemic.

A Marysville Pilchuck football player sports a spear on his helmet as the Tomahawks took on Snohomish in the Wesco 3A Championship Friday evening at Quil Ceda Stadium on November 1, 2019. School district leaders may soon need to consider dropping Marysville Pilchuck High School’s mascot, the Tomahawks. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Should Marysville Pilchuck High drop the name ‘Tomahawks’?

A state bill would ban Native American mascots and symbols from schools — unless there is tribal permission.

About a dozen metal dinosaurs sit in the front yard of a home owned by Burt Mason and Mary Saltwick on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021 in Freeland, Washington. The couple are used to finding strangers in their yard and taking photos. Every year on their trip to Tucson, Burt and Mary bring home another figure  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Dinos on Whidbey? This Freeland yard is a Jurassic Park

These creatures from long ago won’t chomp or chase you, and you’re welcome to visit.

Maryville Getchell High School students Madison Dawson, left, Kaden Vongsa and Jenasis Lee, who made a presentation to their school board discussing mental health, lack of resources and personal stories of their peers mental health struggles. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Students plead for better mental health support from schools

Three Marysville Getchell seniors want more counselors and improved training for staff.

Parked tractor-trailers line the side of 40th Avenue NE on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021 in Marysville, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Worker wonders why dead end Marysville road is rough and rutty

A stretch of 40th Avenue NE is mostly used for heavy trucking and isn’t in line for repairs soon.

Camano Island shooting leaves father dead; son arrested

Dominic Wagstaff, 21, was taken into custody late Sunday for investigation of the murder of Dean Wagstaff, 41.

Jean Shumate (left), seen here during a February 2019 school board meeting, will retire June 30 after 20 years at the Stanwood-Camano School District superintendent. (Skagit Valley Herald)
Stanwood-Camano superintendent to retire after 20 years

Jean Shumate has been at the helm longer than any other superintendent in Snohomish County.

Snohomish County Council delays education spending vote

The council is now slated to decide next week on the measure, which targets a pre-K learning gap.

Most Read