BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – A Pell City mom and her daughter are sharing their story – Curt’s story – after losing Curt Carpenter, 28, to coronavirus. He was recently on a ventilator at Grandview Medical Center for 51 days before losing his fight with the disease.
Within the span of three days, all three of them had come down with the virus and they all had different reactions – Curt’s was the most severe. None of them were vaccinated at the time they got sick, and after going through their fight they’ve changed their minds about getting the vaccine.
“I have to breathe in through my nose and pucker my lips and blow out through my mouth,” Christy Carpenter, 49, said. She is still recovering from her battle with COVID-19. It began at the beginning of March after her daughter Cayla tested positive for the virus.
“My brother was perfectly fine that morning and when I woke up that afternoon, I found him mostly unconscious,” Cayla Carpenter, 22, said.
Cayla called for help, paramedics told her Curt’s oxygen level was dangerously low – admitting him to the ICU at Grandview Medical Center, putting him on the ventilator within 24 hours.
“They said at that point it wasn’t an emergency, but they didn’t want it to turn into an emergency situation,” Christy said.
After weeks of ups and downs, Curt never came off the ventilator.
“As a mom, we should be able to fix everything, and that was something I couldn’t fix,” Christy said. “I kept apologizing to him saying baby I’m sorry I can’t fix this, but you gotta pull through, you’ve gotta keep fighting.”
Five days before Curt passed, his lung collapsed.
“With his O2 dropping down to the single digits that much, I think it did more damage to vital organs and he never responded to us again,” Christy said.
Christy still walks around with an oxygen tank and goes to pulmonary therapy four times a week.
“I’ve had to wait now because of the repercussions of COVID, to even get the vaccine so we’ve been extra careful,” she said.
Christy and Cayla both work in healthcare and could have pushed to get a vaccine, but Curt wasn’t eligible by that point back in March.
“On the surface, it seemed like it was developed very quickly,” Christy said. “I’m not saying that we were never going to get it, but we were hesitant. I guess we wanted to kinda see how other people reacted to it first.”
They were hesitant. The vaccine just started becoming available. Now they wish more than anything they would have taken it sooner.
“I have underlying health issues and I’m sitting here today,” Christy said. “My son was completely healthy, and he’s gone.”
The two of them are working on Curt’s mission to encourage others to get vaccinated now.
“Don’t think that you’re invincible,” Cayla said. “Just because we’re in our 20’s and we’re living life to the fullest doesn’t mean that life can’t be ended for us as well.”
Cayla and Christy say they both wear masks any time they are around people and will continue to do so after they are vaccinated. The two of them are going in tomorrow morning to get their first dose of the Pfizer shot – as Christy was just now cleared by her doctor to do so.
“By wearing your mask and taking the vaccine, that’s helping,” Christy said. “We’re calling it Curt’s mission to help protect life.”
They are hopeful sharing Curt’s story will encourage you to follow in their footsteps to get vaccinated.