Countywide & Sun - Pottawatomie County's ONLY locally owned Newspaper. Connecting you to the community where you live, work & play!

Persistent Prayer Brings Pastor Peak Home

 

Jennifer Pitts

COVID-19 survivor and local pastor Tony Peak is pictured with his wife Alicia in their Tecumseh home Monday, June 7, after being hospitalized for more than six months.

He blacked out on Nov. 24, 2020, two days before thanksgiving. When the ambulance arrived at his Tecumseh home, he and his family had no way of knowing he would nearly die three times and spend more than six months, 193 nights, hospitalized before finally returning home Friday from his fight to survive COVID-19.

Tecumseh Pastor Tony Peak, then age 66, had been in perfect health when he began feeling ill a week or two prior to blacking out. His wife, Alicia Peak, said a friend in the medical field suggested monitoring his oxygen levels with a pulse oximeter. At one point, she recorded his oxygen had dropped to 72.

"That's the last thing he remembers," until early February, Alicia said of the day he blacked out.

"He remembers being in the hospital and saw a Valentine's commercial and said, 'Wait a minute.' He had missed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and his birthday."

After arriving at SSM St. Anthony Shawnee's emergency room on Nov. 24, the local pastor spent the next three days there – waiting for a room.

"There were no rooms available," Alicia said. "They had seven (ER) patients at the time that were doing the same thing."

The day Tony was moved into a room, things got worse, and he was moved again the same day, this time to the ICU, as he struggled harder to breathe. The decision was then made to put him on a ventilator.

Even then, Alicia hadn't been allowed to see her husband of 38 years since the moment he left home in the ambulance. She felt helpless and scared. The phone rang, day and night, with doctors, nurses, and specialists updating her on her husband's condition as it rapidly changed ­– for weeks on end.

"My phone rings, and I still jump," she said.

Around Dec. 9, Tony went into Afib as his pulse shot up to 180 beats per minute.

"So it wasn't really beating. It was just vibrating," Alicia said. "His blood pressure was just barely there because his heart rate was so fast. He didn't have a blood pressure."

That was the first time doctors told her to call family and tell them Tony might not make it. Doctors had to shock his heart to try to slow it down, but they didn't know if it would work or if he would survive.

"Every day was a rollercoaster," Alicia said of the terrifying events that continued unfolding. "Every single solitary day was something...until around Dec. 17. He was kind of leveling out, being able to open his eyes."

It wasn't until the next day, on Dec. 10, that Alicia got to be by her husband's side for the first time since Nov. 24.

When it became clear his COVID pneumonia fight would be a long one, the decision was made to replace the vent tube down Tony's throat with a trach to help him breathe. The trach was put in on Dec. 23, and a peg tube into his abdomen to replace the feeding tube that had been down his nose and throat.

Even though Tony was usually sedated from medications for 16 hours every day, Alicia said he was placed in a 100 percent medical paralysis while positioned on his stomach. Any movement, she said, could cause damage due to the trach tube running into his lungs.

On Dec. 28, the pastor's fever spiked above 101 for the first time and hit 105. At the same time, his oxygen saturation levels dropped into the 70s.

"They packed him in ice and just had him covered with a sheet. His heart rate was over 150," Alicia said.

For the second time that month, doctors told her he might not survive.

"They gave him antibiotics and told me to call my kids," she said.

"He overcame the infection, which doctors had discovered at the site of his trach, but he remained in ICU. On his 67th birthday, Jan. 6, he was stable enough to be transferred to a longer-term facility in Oklahoma City – one, however, that would not allow visitors "at all – only Facetime."

On Jan. 20, Alicia said Tony seemed depressed during their two video calls. "He was crashing at that point, and we didn't realize it."

"I was sad that he was sad," she said, explaining that a friend offered to sit with her that evening.

"At 6 p.m., they called and were running him to a CAT scan, and he was not working (to breathe) at all.

"They took him to ICU, and when we got to ICU, they were bagging him through the trach to give him oxygen because they could push it in harder – because he wasn't able to breathe enough on his own to keep himself alive."

She said pushing the air with such force through the trach also pushed air under his skin and caused his body to swell. It was the scariest, the craziest."

"Within an hour of them doing that, his face swelled to capacity."

They were desperately trying to save his life. For the third and most ominous time, doctors told her to call their family because they had done all they could do.

They said, "Call all your family. Warn people he's not going to make it through the night."

Tony's family stayed around the clock with him as close as they were allowed. Then something changed. The numbers didn't continue to deteriorate as the family had been told would happen. Instead, they started improving.

"By just the power of God, he came through that night," his wife said.

Once stable, the hospital began allowing one visitor a day.

Tony said, "And from that point on, she never missed a day of being with me in my room, all the way through Friday when I got to come home. Every. Day."

Alicia stayed in a nearby hotel, even through the freezing, historic February winter storm.

Tony remained in the ICU until Feb. 26. Around Apr. 1, his trach was removed, and he was transferred to a retirement/rehab center, but two days later, he aspirated. He was taken to Mercy Hospital, re-intubated, and placed in ICU once again. He stayed at Mercy until Apr. 20 when he was transferred one more time to Anadarko. There, he was treated by a wound care specialized for the large bed sore that had developed over the months.

COVID-19 impacted nearly every part of the minister's body. He lost 50 pounds, developed muscular neuropathy, and nearly required dialysis to compensate for his struggling kidneys.

"And when they put in that trach tube when I woke up, I couldn't talk," Tony said with his voice breaking between every few words as his lungs lifted his chest, visibly working overtime to bring in the next breath. "The poor nurses had to try to read my lips."

Alicia said, "And he didn't realize that trach tube wasn't permanent. He thought he would never talk or preach again – and we didn't realize it.

"I tried to explain everything, but that one slipped me."

But today, Tony is finally back home in Tecumseh. He rolled into town Friday after an hour and a half trip from Anadarko by ambulance. Family, friends, and church members gathered along Highway 9 to wave him in for his long-awaited and long prayed for "welcome home."

Tony Peak, pastor of Tecumseh's First Baptist Church, is pictured shortly before fighting for his life against COVID-19. He spent more than six months in multiple hospitals and ICUs on ventilators and trach tubes, lost 50 pounds and came close to death three time. (Provided photo)

Their children, Kaitlyn and Cody, also welcomed them home Friday, along with their grandkids Jordyn "Jay", age 22; Jordy, age 7; Johny, age 4; and Jaybey, 4.

The Peak's still have a long recovery road to recovery ahead, but they are thankful to be home and thankful for the continued support of their family, friends, and community. Tony is especially looking forward to preaching again. He hopes to preach his first post-COVID sermon by July or August.

When asked how he feels now, knowing what his family went through while he was sick, his emotional response could be seen in his eyes and heard in his voice.

"I'm so grateful God didn't put my family and friends thru the grief of my death," he said as he held back tears. "I'm so thankful he spared them that."

If anyone would like to send a welcome home card or letter to Tony and Alicia, they can be mailed to: 21425 TrailRidge, Tecumseh, OK 74873.

 

Reader Comments(0)

 
 

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2021

Rendered 06/12/2021 11:23