COVID-19 illness lasts over six months for Luigi’s Restaurant owner

Tom Beaubien is recovering and regaining use of his left hand
Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 5:57 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - A Flint man is still recovering from his long bout with COVID-19 six months after first testing positive.

The 54-year-old continues suffering from the fatigue and lack of strength so many other coronavirus survivors are struggling with. But he’ll accept his condition compared to what could have been, such as being dependent on daily treatment.

Tom Beaubien, who had no underlying health issues before contracting COVID-19, believes he experienced a medical miracle surviving the illness this long. He always tried to eat well and stay healthy before.

“I was the one not touching elevator buttons, I was using a key or a tissue to even touch a door handle,” she said. “So to be more careful is difficult. I was already careful.”

Beaubien is co-owner of a longtime Flint staple, Luigi’s Restaurant on the city’s east side. He also helps out his brother’s business.

Beaubien believes he contracted COVID-19 during a trip he had to take for that job last October.

“I started out just feeling like I was had upset stomach and then it turned into vomiting,” he said.

Even though it wasn’t the typical COVID-19 symptom, Beaubien tested positive. He quarantined in his Arkansas hotel room and waited to get better. That never happened, so his wife flew down to drive him back home to Flint.

About 24 hours later, Beaubien was in the intensive care unit at University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. Doctors immediately sedated him because the coronavirus was attacking his kidneys, which led to double pneumonia and a bacterial infection.

“My creatinine level was 20. They want your creatinine level for your kidney function to be at one. So I was obviously significantly higher and the physician that was attending said, he’s never seen anything over 12 or 13,” Beaubien said.

While in intensive care, he received dialysis 24 hours a day.

Doctors told him he would survive, but he’d need to continue dialysis for three and a half hours a day for the rest of his life. For a 54-year-old father who works two jobs, including running a restaurant, Beaubien said he wasn’t ready to rely daily on medical care.

“And after my second treatment being out of intensive care, miraculously my kidneys started working again,” he said. “And the doctors couldn’t explain it. They didn’t know why.”

But Beaubien knows his whole community was cheering him on. He hopes they’ll take a lesson from what he went through.

Beaubien received his COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year and is encouraging others to do the same while continuing to wear a mask and keep your distance..

“Just be leery of the fact that it will crumble your life if if you’re one of the people that it affects stronger than others,” he said. “And no one knows why it affects us so differently in some cases.”

Unfortunately, Beaubien’s time in the hospital wasn’t over after his miracle recovery. For the last six months, he’s been working to get the function in his left hand back.

He said his IV wasn’t placed properly during treatment, sending medication meant for his veins into his whole body. About 20 blood clots formed from his elbow down and he couldn’t use his left hand for about two months.

Thanks to physical therapy, Beaubien only has a few blood clots left and he’s finally able to make a pizza again.

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