‘I am very lucky to be alive’: Local musician still struggling in COVID-19 recovery

Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 4:52 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s a side of the virus we don’t often talk about: recovery. For some families, it’s even harder than being in the hospital.

A few weeks ago we introduced you to Rusty Bonham, a local musician fighting for his life. He’s back home now, but things aren’t much easier.

Just a few months ago, Rusty could carry around his kids. He could carry on his drums for hours. These days, he can hardly carry himself. It’s what his wife calls the dark side of survival.

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Posted by Rusty Bonham on Saturday, July 4, 2020

“Get up, eat breakfast, try to take about 10 steps on a walker,” Rusty said.

Days look a lot different now for Rusty.

“I was making music and going on golf cart rides and having a good time,” Rusty said.

But COVID-19 brought reality to Rusty.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through, and I’ve been through a lot,” Rusty said.

Rusty spent a month in the hospital. Most of it was in the ICU fighting for his life.

“I died,” Rusty said. “I died in the hospital, so I am very lucky to be alive.”

In some ways, his wife Sara Bonham says, being there was easier.

“He was sedated a lot of the time he was in the hospital,” Sara said. “He wasn’t having to feel the pain. He wasn’t having to go through all those problems. At home, he is. He feels every little thing that happens.”

Now Sara isn’t just a wife. She’s a full-time caretaker, therapist, and nurse.

“We take his pulse-ox constantly. Medicines constantly. Insulin constantly. Therapy constantly. Just trying to get him better. Trying to get him stronger,” Sara said.

There’s a long road ahead, and it’ll be a while before Rusty is back on the drums.

“This isn’t recovery from a hip replacement,” Sara said. “This isn’t recovery from a broken leg.”

But a positive attitude makes all the difference.

“We’ll get him back there,” Sara said. “We’ll get him back behind that kit.”

Right now, Rusty is still having a lot of trouble with his breathing and stamina, and his doctors don’t know when he will be back to his old self. For now, they tell him to just take it day-by-day.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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