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Lynn and Durell Owens sitting on the bench. Standing behind them are Radiation Techs: (left to right) Nadine Jenkins, Keri Beth Sexton and Savannah Steele
Lynn and Durell Owens sitting on the bench. Standing behind them are Radiation Techs: (left to right) Nadine Jenkins, Keri Beth Sexton and Savannah Steele

Tue, Nov 30, 2021 at 08:40 AM

Sand Mountain woman shares COVID experience in book of artwork

Unfortunately many people now have a COVID-19 story to tell. But few people have told their stories as Lynn Black Owens has – in a book that is part heart-wrenching tale of crippling sickness and part art book.

Unfortunately many people now have a COVID-19 story to tell. But few people have told their stories as Lynn Black Owens has – in a book that is part heart-wrenching tale of crippling sickness and part art book.

Of Nightmares and Miracles is subtitled A COVID-19 Survival Story. It fulfills two of Owens’ goals: to share the COVID experience that changed her life and to publish her drawings as an adult coloring book.

Ever since she was a child, Lynn has loved drawing and sketching. She had spoken to a publisher about using her artwork in an artistic coloring book and had been working for years to complete enough intricate sketches to fill a book. When she tested positive for COVID in January 2021, it changed that plan forever. She no longer has the strength, coordination or concentration to be able to draw with hands that shake uncontrollably. Unable to finish the artwork for the book, Owens instead filled half of it with her story.

It recounts Owens’ 147 days in hospitals with 47 of those spent on a ventilator. The experience was peppered with terrible dreams, unending pain and recurring doubt that she would ever make it back to her beloved home on Sand Mountain. At the same time she was sick, her family also had the virus, which killed her father. Her mother was on a ventilator and her husband was hospitalized all at the same time. Not knowing about the health of her family, being alone in ICU and staring at the ceiling for months took a tremendous toll on Owen’s mental health.

When she finally healed enough to go home, she was elated but far from being well. She was in a wheelchair, couldn’t feed herself and couldn’t lift anything heavier than a bottle of water. Rehab is slowly helping but Owens remains on oxygen and knows she’ll never be able to do the things she once could.

“If there is a bright side, I’ve lost 100 pounds and no longer take medicine for blood pressure and diabetes,” she writes. “However, it’s hardly the weight-loss plan I would recommend.”

While Lynn gives the credit for her survival to God, she also gives high praise and appreciation to the healthcare workers who kindly and patiently took care of her when she could do nothing for herself.

“The nurses were not just nurses. They didn’t just come in to take my vitals, bring me medicine and change my sheets. They were my entire world. They became family. They talked to me when I was feeling down. They listened even when I could barely form words. They snuck in bits of information from my family like a prisoner sneaking a metal file into a prison. When I was so weak that I couldn’t even lift my arms, they held a phone to my ear so I could hear the voices of family members. None of these things they had to do. Their jobs were already overwhelming. I could see the stress in the huge bags under their eyes. I could hear in their voices how near the breaking point they were.  But they never stopped. They came in day after day and went through it all over again. They never lost their compassion or humanity, and that was the true miracle.”

Owens’ husband, Durell, is a patient at the Marshall Cancer Care Center, where he is undergoing radiation treatments. She donated a copy of the book to the Cancer Care Center in honor of the “excellent care” the staff provides to patients.

The book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.