Randall Greenwood

COVID-19 is real, potentially deadly, and unpredictable. I know — I faced death and survived.

Sometime in the future, we will know how it developed, what it did, and how it was ultimately defeated. Until then, we should all make the best decisions we can, and try to ensure that societal response to the coronavirus is not worse than the virus itself.

I support vaccine choice. Throughout my life, I have received the regular schedule of tested and approved vaccinations. All of them are grounded in proven science and saved lives in most cases.

I admit, I was skeptical of this one when the normal protections (legal liability for adverse reactions, rigorous testing and formal approvals) were discarded in the rush to vaccinate everyone, with no exceptions. Then I asked: if COVID shots are such a good thing, why do people need to be offered free beer, lottery tickets or money, or be threatened with job loss?

I am a high-risk individual with more than one comorbidity. When I developed symptoms, I assumed that I had pneumonia or the flu. Every two years or so, I develop pneumonia, usually requiring a trip to the doctor. This time, when I went to the emergency room, I tested positive for COVID, was placed on oxygen, and then moved to the intensive care unit (ICU).

What happened next was a 12-day ordeal that included a near-death experience with seven days on a ventilator, where I was virtually unconscious.


Before I went on the ventilator, I made three phone calls, believing that they might be my last.

First, I called my pastor to ask that he pray for me and with me, because I was scared. Second, I called my mom, in my own mind, to say goodbye. My last call was to my sister Betsy, so that she could notify my family and friends, and oversee anything that needed to be done.

I was then placed on a ventilator for seven days with no awareness or recollection of that period of time. I later learned that my church, and a sister church, organized a community prayer vigil in the parking lot outside of St. Mary’s Hospital. One of my nurses would later testify that on that night, she observed a noticeable change in my condition, confiding in me that until then she believed I was going to die.

The 50-plus people outside, and countless others throughout Maine, praying for my recovery made a difference. They strengthened the hands of the St. Mary’s staff that cared for me. They reaffirmed for me: (1) the power of prayer, (2) miracles happen, and (3) God heals.

This humbling, near-death experience has made me a better person; kinder, gentler and more appreciative of the little things that I used to take for granted.

Before you judge me or write angry letters, consider that the public response to coronavirus is itself a sickness. Many otherwise good people have allowed themselves to devolve into an angry, hateful mob that does not respect bodily autonomy, personal choice, freedom, respect, or love.


God teaches love. We are forever instructed to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. To those that wish me misfortune, I will reply with humble kindness and pray for you. I will support and respect your right to make personal decisions without forcing you to comply with mine.

I don’t know why I survived when others have passed away, but I do know that prayer works, miracles happen, and God heals.

With this knowledge, I will use what time I have to be a good father to my children, serve others, and be worthy of my remaining time on this earth. I will be forever thankful for the support I received from St. Mary’s Hospital staff, family, friends and the community.

Randall Greenwood (R-Wales) represents state House District 82, which covers Litchfield, Wales and part of Monmouth.

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