Out on their weekly date night on a Monday in early February, Albany firefighter and father of two Josh Woodward told his wife, Chelsea Woodward, that he thought he’d pulled a muscle in his arm.
Two days later, the 33-year-old was in the ER with sepsis. Doctors gave Josh a 5 percent chance of survival as the infection spread from his arm to his chest. He had a heart attack. His kidneys were failing.
Two weeks later, after a massive outpouring of support from his community and strangers online following his fight for life, Josh has beaten the odds to make it into that 5 percent.
“As of yesterday, his bloodwork came back free of sepsis,” Chelsea, 31, tells The Post. “The doctors are throwing around the word ‘miracle.’ ”
The way Josh contracted sepsis is almost as tragic as his recovery is remarkable. “He coughed strep directly into his blood,” says Chelsea. “He did one of those vampire coughs in his arm and he had a small laceration in his shoulder.”
Josh had unknowingly been carrying the disease in his throat.
Now his medical team doesn’t anticipate any further problems, Chelsea says. This only a few days after doctors seemed certain Josh would lose his arm — if not his life. While “there’s a couple fingers” that may need amputation, Chelsea says, that’s “small change,” comparatively.
A long road to recovery still faces Josh, who will likely stay in the hospital for at least another two weeks. Chelsea admits she’s exhausted, but feels uplifted by the influx of love she’s witnessed.
“It’s given me an entirely different perspective,” she says. “It seems weird to say — but I’m grateful for the experience.”
Josh’s firefighter community has been a major source of support, plowing the Woodwards’ driveway when it snowed, picking up their mail, handling paperwork and keeping a representative with the family at the hospital 24/7 since Day 1.
“They made sure we never had to worry about a meal,” Chelsea says.
More than 60,000 people are following the Woodward Strong Facebook page she set up for Josh. Nearly $100,000 has been raised via GoFundMe, and companies are selling #WoodwardStrong merchandise, donating proceeds to cover Josh’s medical costs.
While her fella was in surgery Wednesday, Chelsea says, she spent all four hours reading online comments.
“Any time that I am personally feeling anxious, I just scroll through the comments and am amazed at all the people sending love to me and my family,” Chelsea says.
She’s excited for when Josh is conscious enough to understand how much love he’s received. “I don’t think he believes me,” she says. “I keep trying to tell him the numbers and he shakes his head and rolls his eyes.”
Oh, and Chelsea is ready for a redo of that date night.
“As long as we leave here hand in hand,” she says, “this is going to be one of the best things that has ever happened to us.”
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