Geneva Wood also beat the odds when she recovered from a stroke in January, regaining her ability to walk, use her right arm and talk

By Joelle Goldstein
March 19, 2020
Geneva Wood and her family
Courtesy family of Geneva Wood

A great-great-grandma from Washington who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 is showing the world what strength really means as she continues to fight off the infectious illness — and win.

At 90-years-old, Geneva Wood is not letting anything stop her from living life with her five kids, 11 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren, according to a feature in Seattle Refined written by her granddaughter-in-law, Kate Neidigh.

Despite contracting the coronavirus earlier this month and reaching a point where she almost died, Wood shocked her family and health care professionals when she suddenly began to recover.

“Who are we to question the fighting spirit of a tough ol’ Texas coot!” asked Cami Neidigh, Wood’s daughter and Kate’s mother-in-law in the Seattle Refined feature. “If anyone’s going to give the middle finger to a killer virus, it’s her.”

Geneva Wood
Courtesy family of Geneva Wood

Wood’s determination and spirit certainly doesn’t come as a surprise to the family, who witnessed the 90-year-old already beat the odds once this year during another medical scare.

In January, Wood suffered a stroke, Kate wrote. At the time, the elderly woman was admitted to The Life Care Center in Kirkland, where she worked with staff to successfully regain her ability to walk, use her right arm, and talk.

Courtesy family of Geneva Wood

By mid-February, the coronavirus outbreak was worsening and many of the COVID-19 patients were being treated at the same facility that Wood was living and rehabbing, according to Kate.

Given how quickly the virus can spread, it was only a matter of days until the worst came to fruition. After coming down with a fever and being brought to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, doctors confirmed Wood had coronavirus on March 6, Kate wrote.

“Just when my mom beat one thing, another ‘thing’ rolled her way,” Cami said, according to Kate.

Geneva Wood with her great-great-granddaughters
Courtesy family of Geneva Wood

Though the highly contagious respiratory virus is especially dangerous for the elderly, in addition to infants and people who are immunocompromised or living with pre-existing conditions, Wood had no fear about tackling this new challenge in front of her.

“I’m going to fight this for my family and make everyone proud,” an isolated Wood told Cami through a glass window in the hospital, according to Kate.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case initially and Wood’s health declined. At one point, her children suited up and went into her room to say goodbye, while other relatives watched on and held signs up to the glass that read, “I love you,” Kate shared.

As they waited for the matriarch to take her final breaths, doctors moved Wood into a room with another COVID-19 patient and then relayed the news that her family could no longer have any physical contact with her, Kate wrote.

“We would no longer be allowed to suit up and physically go into her room, rub her arm or hold her hand. We wouldn’t even be able to stand on the other side of the glass and check to see if she was comfortable or restless,” Cami said, according to Kate.

“The nurses promised me that they would help her twice a day to do a video chat,” Cami added. “Patients need to see their families. Mom didn’t rally until we were allowed to see her. I understand why they need to do this, but that doesn’t change how cruel this is to the patients and the families. I [was] a mess.”

But their heartbreak soon turned to hopefulness when Wood started recovering out of nowhere. With her health progressing, the 90-year-old started becoming more like herself each day, later demanding drinks and homemade potato soup, her family said.

“She knew that’s what she needed to help her get better and apparently it’s working, the doctor and nurses are even wanting the recipe,” Cami said of the daily soup requests, according to Kate.

Kate also noted at one point, Wood was seen waving her hands in the air yelling, “I ain’t dead yet! I’m gonna die of thirst before I die of this Coronavirus!” after asking for a Sprite.

As of Wednesday, Wood was still in isolation but fully off her oxygen and only experiencing a stuffy nose and a cough, Kate explained. Doctors reportedly plan on retesting Wood once she is asymptomatic for 72 hours.

“If she continues on her current path, she could possibly be discharged to go home as soon as possible. How’s that for good news?! Okay, great news!” Cami said, according to Kate. “I think I just exhaled. Never underestimate the power of thoughts and prayers!”

In the meantime, Wood has a message for others who are going through their own battles with COVID-19.

“Try your best to stay positive, find good in the bad, thank the caregivers and spend time with nurses so they know they are not just taking care of another sick patient,” she said.

There have been at least 10,822 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 172 deaths in the U.S. as of Thursday afternoon, according to the New York Times. Washington has been one of the hardest-hit states, documenting at least 1,026 cases and 68 deaths, the Times reported.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDCWHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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