Carlos Muniz and his fiancée, Grace Leimann, were getting ready to tie the knot in mid-July, despite the threat of the coronavirus. However, their plans changed after Muniz was diagnosed with COVID-19 on July 15th, just a few days before the wedding. He stayed in the coronavirus unit of a local San Antonio hospital for ten days before being moved to the ICU. Nurses and staff feared Muniz was nearing the end. They put him on an ECMO machine as a last-ditch effort to save his life.
Lifting His Spirits
After Muniz went on the ECMO machine, his caretakers were prepared for the worst. For a while it looked as if he wouldn’t recover from the virus, which was wreaking havoc on his lungs.
That’s when nurse Matt Holdridge found out about Muniz having to cancel his plans to get married. He quickly came up with the idea of having the ceremony in the hospital as a way of lifting his spirits.
News of a hospital wedding soon spread like wildfire throughout the facility. After months of working around-the-clock, staff members were more than delighted to have such an uplifting project to work on.
As Holdridge recalls, “The ball just kind of got rolling from there. A lot of people started volunteering for it. Before you knew it, every nurse in the unit knew about it and was trying to figure out ways to make it more special.” For the staff at the hospital, it was a welcome distraction from all the devastation that had been happening.
Holdridge believed the ceremony would encourage Muniz to keep fighting for his life. After doing everything he could to help his patient physically, Holdridge decided to focus on his emotional needs.
Emotional health can have a significant impact on a person’s physical health. When we are anxious, depressed, or hopeless, we tend to be more susceptible to disease. Hope for the future can also increase a patient’s chances of recovery. Poor emotional health can weaken the body’s immune system and worsen certain outcomes and conditions.
The decision paid off. As soon Muniz heard about his wedding, his condition started to improve. Soon, providers removed his feeding tube as Muniz began to recover.
A Wedding Unlike Any Other
For the big day, Muniz was given a tuxedo T-shirt that he wore over his gown. Holdridge served as his best man. The staff wheeled him in his hospital bed to the end of the hall where he waited for his bride. Grace Leimann finally arrived in her full wedding gown and Muniz was speechless. The happy couple finally tied the knot on August 11th.
“I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room given everything he’s been through and everything he had gone through to get to this point,” Holdridge remembered. “It was a pretty magical event.”
After the festivities, Muniz and his new wife thanked the nurses and providers who made their wedding possible. News of the event seemed to have had a major effect on Muniz’s overall condition. It’s not clear if he would have made it, if it weren’t for Nurse Holdridge and the staff.
However, the nurses were quick to point out that they needed the ceremony just as much as Muniz. It was a joyous celebration in the middle of what’s been a difficult, stressful year. Holdridge went on to say, “We needed that just as much as they did. It was a big motivational booster for our staff just to be able to continue to fight for our patients and our community here.”
If your patients seem blue or disengaged from their surroundings, look for ways to brighten their spirits. Visit the CDC to find tips for maintaining emotional health. A simple smile or gesture can go a long way. It might even increase their chances of recovery. Try to keep your patients focused on the future.