ROCKWALL, Texas — It’s been about two weeks since Geoffrey Lyons left the hospital, but he still walks around rolling an oxygen tank and is winded just standing still.
“It feels like I ran two miles, but I didn’t run two miles,” he said.
Just over a month ago, though, it was much worse.
“Woke up like 2 or 3 in the morning,” Lyons said. “Couldn’t breathe. Gasping for air.”
The 32-year-old Army vet and father of three had tested positive for COVID-19 the day before and planned to see a doctor in the morning, but when the breathing issues started he was taken to Baylor Scott & White Lake Pointe and put on oxygen.
“I shouldn’t have made it out, but I did,” he said. “Some days I’d make some progress and the next day I’d have to go back up to more oxygen because something would go back worse or I’d lost the air.”
Lyons had been holding out on getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Because I was just scared. I was just nervous about it,” he said. "I was like, ‘Man, I was stuck with just about everything under the sun in the military. I’m immune to anthrax. That takes two years to get, seven shots. I was like, ‘I’ll be OK. I’ll be fine,' but I got put on my butt real quick. It was humbling."
Right now, roughly 13,000 Texans are hospitalized with COVID-19.
“I wouldn’t wish this upon my worst enemy. It’s miserable,” Lyons said. “It just came to my mind, I thought, 'I don’t want to leave my children.'”
94% of COVID-19 patients across the Baylor Scott & White system are unvaccinated and 96% of COVID patients in the ICU are unvaccinated.
“They look at me and they say, ‘I wish I had gotten vaccinated’,'" said Dr. Jared Wolf, the chief medical officer at Baylor Scott & White Lake Pointe.
"[They say] 'I’m going to tell my family about this. This is not worth it.'"
Wolf said he’s concerned not just that beds are being filled with COVID patients but that those filling them are younger than before.
“I end up taking care of patients in their 20s who have had to be intubated. I’ve had patients die who are in their 20s that really had no comorbidities, no problems in life otherwise but they just didn’t get vaccinated,” he said. “That’s been the hard part to talk to people about and talk to families and say, 'I’m sorry your loved one is so sick. I’m sorry this is hitting them so hard. I can’t fix this.'"
Lyons and his friends put together a video of him in the hospital recovering and sharing his month-long COVID fight where he lost 65 pounds.
“Being blessed to be getting out of this alive, I can tell you I will be getting the vaccine as soon as I possibly can,” Lyons said in the video.
More than 60 friends or family members have told him they’ve now changed their minds on vaccination because of his story.
“What we have done together as a team has saved lives,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.”
“In order to save you and your loved ones, get vaccinated,” Wolf said.
Hospitals are filled with people like Geoffrey Lyons. He’s hoping his story can help empty them.
“Are you going to put the cards in your favor,” Lyons said. “Or are you just going to stand there and do nothing and just kind of hope?”