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‘I owe my life to them’: Casper COVID survivor gives daily thanks to WMC staff

Daran Bulow stands with a sign during shift change at the Wyoming Medical Center recently to show his appreciation for the healthcare workers who helped save his life late last year while battling COVID-19. (Courtesy)

CASPER, Wyo. — One of Daren Bulow’s first memories after coming out of a medically induced coma last year is seeing the tears and hearing the applause from the very healthcare workers who labored to save his life.

Bulow, 55, was repeatedly called a “miracle” by the staff at the Wyoming Medical Center after spending nearly a month on a ventilator. He and his wife Christine were both hospitalized after they contracted COVID-19 last November, but when Christine was allowed to recover at home, Daren’s condition became dire.

“From my perspective, I just wanted to live for my wife,” he said in an interview earlier this year.

Daren has a successful comedy act, and hoped to give the WMC staff a free show to cheer them up and give them a diversion from the continuous stream of COVID patients.

However, the highly contagious Delta variant, as well as a deep vaccine hesitancy in Wyoming, has brought on a new surge of COVID patients at the hospital that shows little sign of slowing down.

Daren and Christine Bulow pose together in their home on Jan. 21, 2021, just a few days after Daren returned from two months of hospitalization and rehabilitation for COVID-19. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City File)

“I was racking my brain for another way to say thank you,” said Daren in a message to Oil City News. “I came up with the idea to stand out in front of the parking garage with a sign that said, ‘Thank You.'”

Every afternoon, Daren plans to hold a message during shift changes at the WMC that announces his appreciation. He will sometimes be joined by his wife as well.

“The impact that this has made is so much better than a comedy show,” he said. “I wanted to be the last face they see as they leave work, and bring a smile to their face and so they know all their hard work is not in vain. I owe my life to them.”

The signs have contained different messages.

“You saved my life,” read one in part. “You are my health care heroes!!!!”

“You work: Holidays, birthdays, weekends, night shifts, long hours, all to save lives in our community,” said another.

Daren plans to greet the WMC staff every day from 5:45 p.m. to 7 p.m. for 43 days, representing the number of days he was hospitalized.

Since starting his greeting just over the past few days, he has met some of the people for the first time since his long stay.

“I have gotten to meet the people who saved my life: I met the nurse who intubated me, I got to meet the nurses who took care of me when I was in a coma, I talked to one of the nurses who stopped by to say, ‘do you remember me feeding you?'”

“I got to meet my heroes; that is enough for me.”

The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.