COLUMBUS, Ohio — A central Ohio nurse is now sick with the virus he's been fighting all along.
At the beginning of April, Michael Rhodes, 46, went to D.C. to help treat COVID-19 patients. By April 30, doctors diagnosed him with COVID-19.
"He knew the significance of it. He knew I would be terrified," said Amber Wachenschwanz, Rhodes' fiancée. "At that point, it was immediate worry. What ifs. All those things."
Rhodes' condition worsened and he ended up in the ICU on a ventilator. Wachenschwanz recalled their last conversation. "All I had time to say was, 'I love you and fight!' He said, 'I promise I will.' That was it," she said.
Wachenschwanz talks with his doctor and nurses daily. She said it's hard knowing she can't be there with him in person as hospitals are not allowing visitors.
"You have peace of mind knowing that being home is really all you can do and make phone calls," she said. "You are at the mercy of when the doctor calls you and that's the hardest part."
Wachenschwanz said she's received a lot of support, especially from Rhodes' best friend Chad Lusher. "I just told her positive vibes," Lusher said. "If you feel like something good is going to happen and it does. You keep those positive thoughts. That's what we've done."
Wachenschwanz said doctors have told her Rhodes is slowly progressing, but it will continue to take time.
"So far, he's fighting. He's fighting and he's being strong. He's doing everything he promised," she said.
Wachenschwanz said Rhodes decided to travel as a nurse for three reasons: to provide for his family, to provide for his employees at his small business, and to help save lives in the hardest-hit areas.
"He thought he could make a difference. He thought he could go and help. He risked himself. That's what all the front line health care workers are doing," Wachenschwanz said.
Lusher set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with medical bills. If you would like to donate, click here.