Photo courtesy D. King of Images
One year after surviving his battle with COVID-19, Shawn Skenandore is back on the waters and has qualified for the 2021 16th Annual Black Bass World Championship.
One full year after nearly losing his life to COVID-19, Shawn Skenandore is beyond grateful to the Creator for granting him more time with his family and friends. The deadly virus landed Skenandore in the St. Mary’s Hospital Intensive Care Unit hooked up to a ventilator with such a bleak prognosis that Last Rites were administered. But despite lingering effects from the virus he hasn’t wasted any time in getting out and enjoying his new lease on life.
“I was in the hospital (fighting COVID-19) for a little more than a month until June 2020,” Skenandore said. “But this past year has been amazing for me. The Creator has blessed me with a new grandchild, and I was able to return to work late last year before my appendix ruptured and I ended up back on short-term disability. So this has been one heck of a journey, and while the fatigue is still there I’m very blessed to be back to work again.”
While he fought the good fight and survived the harrowing experience, Skenandore lives daily with the knowledge that he may not make it if he contracts the deadly virus again. “The main fear is not knowing if I’ll catch this again,” Skenandore said. “I’m not comfortable getting the shot right now because I’m aware of people who received the vaccination who are contracting COVID again. I was told if I contract it again like I did before I will not survive it. My lungs are only at about 70 percent of what they were before, and they’ll probably never fully recover due to all the tissue damage that occurred.
“I’m still going through therapy and rehabilitation so here we are a year later and I’m still dealing with it,” Skenandore said. “Fatigue is the biggest thing right now because I’m always tired so I call them my grandpa naps because now that I’m a grandpa I’m always napping. My sleep schedule hasn’t been quite the same either as I’m up with the birds now. At this point I’m only able to get five hours of deep sleep at the most coupled with my grandpa naps.”
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, has also made its way into Skenandore’s life. He works at Green Bay Packaging, where he is currently required to wear a mask. “I have to wear that mask which I struggle with daily,” Skenandore said. “I have such a hard time with anything covering my face because I had that CPAP mask on my face for 30 days so that gets a little emotional.”
But, the way the Oneida community rallied behind his family and himself when he was down still has Skenandore in awe. “I’ll tell you what, I am so blessed to have the community that I have,” Skenandore said. “They took care of my family from day one. My aunt had posted something on social media about helping out and the community, family, and friends all stepped up and brought food over every day. Necessities were dropped off for my family all the time while I was in the hospital.
“It’s so amazing to see our people come together when we truly need each other,” Skenandore said. “Our people support each other. We sort of got away from those ways and we’ve needed to celebrate bringing people back together again with the ‘what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is ours’ way of thinking. When we got to that point in my life you all really showed me just how much I’m cared for. It meant so much that I’m getting emotional just thinking about how much my community helped my family and I. Yaw^ko to everybody that went above and beyond in our time of need. I can’t ever thank you all enough for everything you did for my family. That will always truly mean something special to me.”
With the exception of being with his family, Skenandore is most at peace when he is with nature. “I’ve been trying to enjoy the Creator’s gifts that he blessed me with and one of the best of all is the great outdoors,” Skenandore said. “I’ve got a 25-foot boat and 90 percent of the time it’s just me in my boat where I don’t have to deal with anybody or any concerns and I’m in my own space.
“Fishing, or me being outdoors in the Creator’s world, has truly been a mind and soul feeling,” Skenandore said. “Enjoying the birds singing, hearing the thunders roar, and the other simple things in life that were almost taken away from me are the most amazing things that I get to hear, see, and enjoy.”
His love for fishing led Skenandore to qualify for the 2021 16th Annual Black Bass World Championship on Lake Murray in Columbia, South Carolina, which will take place November 1-7. Skenandore was chosen to represent the First Nations communities and Midwest region in the tournament that will feature teams from at least 18 other countries. Having just returned to work full-time, a Go Fund Me page has been created to help Skenandore offset some of the $5,000 it will cost to participate in this opportunity. Anybody that is able to assist is asked to please visit: Fundraiser by Shawn King-Skenandore : Help Shawn reach the World Bass Championship (gofundme.com).