A more fun time

Almena Village President Greg Rayment presents a pedal tractor he donated to Lexi Lewis of Clear Lake, then age 5, during Almena Fun Days in 2017. Rayment donates a kids’ tractor every year to a lucky child during Fun Days. 

Retired Almena business owner Greg Rayment, 68, has never missed a Wisconsin gun-deer hunting season in his life – until 2020.

Diagnosed with COVID-19 in early November 2020, Rayment, who serves as Almena village president, was flat on his back in the hospital when hunting season began the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

It was actually his third visit to the hospital since he got sick, Rayment said on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.

“I came down with it on Nov. 2, he said. “I was at home for something like a week, fighting it. It got so bad, I thought I was going to die. I coughed so hard, I was throwing up almost with every breath. I’ve broken my hips, broke other bones, but this was the worst thing I ever experienced.”

Rayment said he visited the emergency room twice as the disease progressed. He was put on an IV both times and was prescribed some “heavy duty cough medicine” after his second visit.

After that, “I spent two days at home,” he said. “But it got to the point where I was passing out while I was coughing.”

Taken to the hospital by ambulance, Rayment was in treatment for five days as his cough went on, relentlessly.

“It got so bad that I was telling the nurses, if this is the way it’s going to be, just let me die,” he said.

The illness finally abated, and Rayment went home for good in late November. He remains on oxygen, three months after coming down with the virus, and one of his lungs has sustained permanent damage. He has lost 30 pounds, he added.

“I had an echocardiogram, and they found out my heart was not damaged,” Rayment said. “I guess you can function with one lung, but not without one heart.”

After two months of “sitting and staring out the window,” Rayment is still experiencing weakness and dizzy spells when he climbs the stairs. But he added that he and his doctors are making plans for therapy when he gets stronger.

“Now, I’m one of those long haulers,” he said. “It will take some time for me to heal and get better.”