COVID-19 survivor recalls experience one year after first case reported

Isaiah Whalum
Posted at 4:26 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 21:08:36-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — One year after the first COVID-19 case was reported in Nashville, a survivor is happy to be alive.

Waking up from a near-death experience was a reality shock for Isaiah Whalum. "And then realizing how close I came to not being here, it’s amazing, I’m so grateful and thankful for the second chance at life. Everything has a new meaning, and I have a different perspective about everything," Whalum said.

He was one of the first patients in Middle Tennessee to spend 53 days in the hospital for COVID-19 and survive. He got sick after his birthday last year, and he went to the hospital on March 21.

"I’m thankful to the moon and back, and back again," Whalum said.

He credits his nurses and doctors at Williamson Medical Center with saving his life. They clapped for him when he left the hospital last year.

"Looking back I’m still utterly amazed, it’s unbelievable," Whalum said.

Unfortunately, he's still dealing with long-term side effects. "It’s been settled that losing 40% functionality in my lungs, that’s permanent," Whalum said.

He has chronic pain, and not a lot of stamina, so he can't work as a chef anymore. Eventually, Whalum was able to get unemployment after some issues getting it. He’s also looking into getting disability now. "It was challenging of course," Whalum said. He hopes one day he can find a job that he can manage with chronic pain.

He just turned 47 years old and is making sure he doesn't take anything in life for granted. "I tell my friends this is my birthday month, I’m celebrating the whole month because it’s worth celebrating,” Whalum said. "The fact that I’m even here, the sun pressing against my skin, it’s great."

Whalum is excited because he's scheduled to get his COVID-19 vaccine next week. A second chance at life is something he doesn't take lightly. "I can tell you even more so, live life fully," Whalum said.