She fought COVID-19 for 146 days, and lived to talk about it

Coronavirus

MATHEWS COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) — A Mathews County woman is home after a challenging 146 days in three medical facilities fighting COVID-19.  

Peggy Gallagher was in Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, Riverside Specialty Hospital, and the Walter Reed Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center.   

As she recently left the Walter Reed Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center, Peggy Gallagher was given a victory send-off with lots of clapping and cheering.  

“I’m blown away. These people are so wonderful.  I loved every one of them… Today, I feel good. I feel positive. They put it in me to be positive to do my best… I love you. You are the best crew ever. Ever,” she said. 

Peggy Gallagher hasn’t been home in five months,  

“I’m going home and see my house. I haven’t seen it in five months, and my little doggie Roxie,” she said. 

Consider this: The average time of recovery for the extreme cases of COVID-19 is three to six weeks. Mathews County resident Peggy Gallagher is more than three times that, at 21 weeks of recovery.

Last Friday at the Walter Reed Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center, the sendoff for Peggy Gallagher was loud and happy and full of respect for her fortitude and strength.

“Do you recognize me with my mask?” she said to an employee, who, of course, recognized her.

Everyone at Walter Reed knows Peggy Gallagher — and knows her story of survival. Her husband, Kevin Gallagher, says their granddaughter Amelia played a role in keeping her grandmother alive.

“The thing with the picture of Amelia is when Peggy came to on April 9 and asked the doctor to disconnect. She wanted to die, and he called me at the house and said ‘I need you to come to the hospital now,’ and I did, and as I [left I] grabbed my granddaughter’s picture… When we got to the hospital, I showed her the picture and I said ‘Who is this?’” Kevin Gallagher recalled.   

Peggy Gallagher completed the thought: “And he came in and said ‘Who is this’ and I said ‘Amelia, my granddaughter.’”   

“She couldn’t talk.  She mouthed the words, ‘Amelia,’” Kevin Gallagher said. 

The sweetest word: “Amelia.” A reason to live, a reason for hope, a reason to believe.

“I then asked ‘Do you want to disconnect?’ and she said ‘No.’ That’s all she remembers,” he said.

After Kevin Gallagher picked up his bride of 48 years, they drove to their favorite restaurant, Tony and Milena’s, with their best friends, the Jaegers, thankful for life.

“I still have a lot to improve, walking, showering and the things you take for granted,” Peggy Gallagher said. 

She also credits prayer for her survival,  

“It’s a miracle. I had millions of people praying for me, and then friends of friends of friends of friends. Everyone was praying, so you have to believe in prayer,” she said. 

Peggy Gallagher doesn’t remember a lot about the five months, but she does remember a small piece of it.

“I remember waking up, and I think these three guys who are in hazmat suits, and I freaked out and I started swinging and hitting them to get away,” she recalled. She can’t explain this vision during one of many medical procedures, but can’t forget it either.

“I remember there was a long dark path to a mountain, and the sun was coming up behind the mountain, that is all I remember.” 

Perhaps it was the difference between dark and light, life and death, but for today, this COVID-19 survivor worries about the future.

“It scares me, and that is why I’m afraid. Someone I know and love is going to get it — that’s what scares me… I have a 4-year-old granddaughter that has to start school, and I’m terrified for her.” 

Terrified of the future, the unknown, from someone who’s got plenty of COVID-19 experience.  


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