Cody's story

Cody Wallace smiling while seated, wearing a red t-shirt.

Michael ‘Cody’ Wallace, 32, is a native of Troy, Missouri and enjoys playing video games. After attending his grandmother’s funeral, Cody fell ill, as did several other family members, including his mother. Initially, Cody thought it was just a cold and took over-the-counter medications to help reduce his symptoms. When he started feeling worse, Cody’s sister took him to the local emergency room, as his mother was sick with COVID-19. In the ER, Cody tested positive for the virus.  His physicians recommended an antibody infusion to supplement the immune system in fighting COVID-19. Cody declined the infusion not fully understanding what it entailed, and returned home.

A few days later, Cody was in bad shape. His sister took his temperature and found that it was over 105 degrees, so he was rushed back to the ER. There, Cody was found to have low oxygen levels as well as pneumonia. He was initially admitted to a regular room, but when his lungs began to fail, he was moved to the ICU and put on a ventilator.

Cody would remain on the breathing machine for the next five months. Sedated and swollen, medical staff at the hospital told Cody’s mother that he had about a three percent chance of surviving. His mom went to the hospital every day to read to Cody; she read a five-book series to him throughout his hospitalization. When Cody finally began to show signs of improvement, he was transferred to a critical illness recovery hospital, which Cody says was a turning point in his recovery. At the critical illness recovery hospital, he began the process of being liberated from the ventilator while receiving treatment for a wound on his tailbone stemming from his prolonged time spent in bed. 

Once Cody was strong enough, he headed to SSM Health Rehabilitation Hospital – Bridgeton to continue his recovery. Because Cody had been so sick for so long, he had significantly debilitated. Additionally, his wound made it difficult and painful for Cody to sit for prolonged periods. Upon arrival in rehab, Cody’s goals were to walk, speak and swallow better while becoming more independent in his personal care. His physician-led team of nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists developed a personal care plan to help him reach his goals. 

In physical and occupational therapy, Cody and his team worked to increase his strength, endurance and balance. His battle with COVID-19 resulted in Cody becoming short of breath with minimal exertion, so his therapists focused on activity modifications to conserve energy. Initially, Cody required moderate assistance with his self-care tasks, including dressing and bathing, which caused him significant fatigue. He also required assistance with transfers, such as getting into a chair or the shower. Cody’s team continued to work on improving his functional mobility, balance, fine motor coordination and endurance through a variety of exercises, including walking and going up and down stairs. 

Cody’s therapists said that he was driven to work hard and enjoyed talking about his favorite video games and television shows during his therapy breaks, adding that these served as good distractions and positively motivated him to return home. After 28 days at SSM Health Rehabilitation Hospital – Bridgeton, Cody was able to walk 200 feet with standby assistance and go up a flight of steps like the ones at his apartment complex. His balance improved greatly and he became less short of breath with activity. He was also able to complete most of his self-care tasks with only supervision. 

Cody’s mother participated in family training with his physical and occupational therapy team as well as wound care nurses who provided guidance about how to dress and care for his healing wound. Cody plans to continue his recovery at the SSM Health Day Institute and was looking forward to returning home and eating his favorite foods again.