COVID-19 survivor Janie Titus honored with drive-by parade

By Linda Heibert

 Carla Lawson and Debbi Palmer say their parents are “miracles” and a lot of people agree with them, including their doctor. Their mom, Janie Titus, and stepfather, Levi “Jr” Titus, both in their mid-70s, have been hospitalized and on ventilators at Harrison County Hospital in Corydon, Ind. with COVID-19. Both were admitted March 25; Janie was released a week ago, on April 20, and went home, while Jr is still hospitalized.  To celebrate her homecoming, the daughters arranged a “drive-by” parade on Sunday at the Titus’ home in Corydon. Approximately 15 vehicles, many bearing posters and banners, drove slowly by the house, where a beaming Janie sat in the front door and waved to her friends and family. Daughter Carla said they’re looking forward to having another parade soon for Jr.  The Titus’ have deep Meade County roots. Janie (Manning) was born and raised in the Rhodelia area and still has a lot of family in the county. Jr was an associate pastor at Glad Tidings Christian Center, now known as Journey Church, from the mid-90s through 2013. Facebook posts are filled with local friends and family recounting the Titus’ kindnesses and expressing love and prayers for them. Jr and Janie were the fifth and sixth Covid cases in Harrison County. Daughter Debbi said they believe they contracted the virus, often deadly for persons over 65, at a gathering of their church on March 15. She stressed that Indiana had not yet banned mass gatherings at that time. In the week following, both Jr and Janie developed symptoms that they thought were cold-related. Visits to doctors diagnosed Janie with a head cold and Jr with bronchitis. By early the next week, though, Janie was feeling so bad her doctor sent her to the hospital to be checked for Covid. Debbi, a nurse, told Jr he needed to be checked out too. They were both admitted and subsequently tested for the virus, with the positive diagnosis confirmed a couple days later. The next day, Jr’s oxygen saturation level was so low he was placed on a ventilator. A couple days later, Janie’s condition plummeted to the point where she also required a ventilator. When Jr was placed on the vent, Janie, a strong Christian and valiant believer in prayer, knew that Jr needed prayers – a LOT of them! Though she’s not a fan of social media, she instructed Carla to get on Facebook and get the word out that people needed to pray for Jr. Debbi said it was typical of her mom to overlook her own need for prayers and healing and just be concerned with someone else’s needs. Jr’s two children and countless others joined the efforts to start the prayers in motion – for both of them. They have no idea how many people were praying, but Debbi said, “It was a lot.” Due to Covid-19 regulations, the close-knit family could not be with Jr and Janie. “It was unbearable,” Debbi said. “We’re the kind of family that is always there for each other. It was awful to not be able to be there.” She developed a pattern of regular calls to the hospital to stay informed on their parents’ health. She’d pass on the information to Carla and to Jr’s kids, who initiated Facebook posts that others shared and reposted. The Titus’ names were also added to prayer lists at numerous churches. Carla described the weeks that followed as a “roller coaster.” Jr and Janie had good days and bad days. The nurses noticed that when one of them had a good day, the other typically would, too, prompting them to find out more about the couple. Married in 1986 as a second marriage for both of them, the two were extremely close. Debbi said they had often said they “wanted to go together, that neither of them wanted to live without the other. And we came so close to that. So close to losing them both. It was awful.” Debbi said the Harrison County Hospital staff was “absolutely amazing. We have no complaints.” They stayed on top of treatment options and current Covid protocol. The family also credits God for working in their lives. Jr developed a heart arrhythmia known as A-flutter, similar to A-fib, and he was scheduled for a cardioversion, which would have hopefully shocked his heart back into proper rhythm. As they were getting ready for the procedure, however, the monitor recorded that his heart had suddenly gone back into regular rhythm with NO intervention. Everyone was shocked. Debbi said her mom started laughing when she heard the story. “It’s the Lord!” she exclaimed. “There’s been more than one miracle in all this,” Debbi said. The family still faces some hurdles. While Janie is home and doing great on her own, she is still under strict quarantine. Debbi and others bring food and leave it by the door for Janie to retrieve when they are gone. To avoid/ minimize contact, they are already planning strategy for an upcoming doctor appointment. Jr is improving steadily but is extremely weak. He is talking now, sometimes even joking. He was in a medically-induced coma at first, Debbi explained, and it “just takes a while to recover from that.” When his fever holds below 100* for 3 days, the doctors will start considering his release. The family is hoping he will be recovered enough to go home then, but he may need a rehab facility. If so, that’s its own “Catch-22” situation, Debbi said, requiring extra care and approvals as facilities attempt to protect other patients/ care for Covid patients/ adapt to insurance regulations. Debbi and Carla and the rest of the family are grateful for Jr and Janie’s recovery – a miracle, they believe. “So many people know and love them,” Debbi says. “Mom and Jr love abundantly. If it’s love and support you need – they got ya!” That love has come back to bless them, as hundreds – maybe even thousands – of people have prayed for this couple. As Debbi contemplates this pandemic that has changed her family forever, she says, “I need you to protect your parents. I don’t want anybody else I know to go through this! I’m ready for this to be over. I need to hug my mom.”

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