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They have a unique situation. One is an IU Health Nurse; the spouse is an IU Health respiratory therapist. When one contracted the coronavirus, their lives suddenly became a little more challenging.
By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1iuhealth.org
He was working long hours in the intensive care unit at IU Health Methodist and University Hospitals. He was caring for the sickest of the sick. He had been a nurse for nine years.
But when his wife became ill with COVID-19, Mike Riley faced a new challenge. The couple is parents to a son, born on February 14. Two months later, Riley was caring for his newborn and his wife, Taylor Riley, a respiratory therapist at IU Health University Hospital.
Taylor Riley calls her husband “a hero.” She nominated him for 97-1, Hank FM’s “Hero of the Day.” In her nomination she said, “describing him as super dad doesn’t do it justice. He not only went to work caring for the sickest patients, but also took care of our two-month-old by himself. He is the strongest most selfless man I know. He is the greatest nurse and father,” said Taylor. “I am so proud of him every day and I can’t wait to tell our son what he did for him and all the other patients fighting the virus.”
Mike Riley said he’s a quick learner. He’s also a natural caregiver. He decided to become a nurse at a young age when his older sister was in a serious car accident at the age of 16. She was hospitalized for several months and when she returned home, Riley helped his parents care for his sibling. Caring for his infant came with another learning curve.
“I never really took care of babies. I had a month and half to prepare and I’m glad I did. I took a lot of mental notes. It was rough but I did what I had to do. I kept my head up and hoped for the best,” said Mike, adding that his wife was his guide. Taylor Riley had gained experience in infant care when she worked as a nanny for several years.
She was on maternity leave when she became ill and really doesn’t know how she contracted the virus.
“I barely went out but I had gone to Sam’s Club for diapers and formula,” said Taylor. A week later she began to get headaches and thought it was the start of a sinus infection. A former runner and gymnast, she had been in great health but in a matter of days she became short of breath. She was exhausted, her body ached, and she spiked a fever.
At the time, Mike Taylor was caring for COVID patients at IU Health Methodist Hospital. He didn’t show any symptoms of the illness but wonders if he might have been a carrier.
The couple met on the job at IU Health and shared a first date with friends at Buffalo Wild Wings while they watched the Cubs game. They married a year ago October. When their son, Julian arrived – weighing in at 6 pounds, 13 ounces – they were thrilled to be new parents.
During her recovery Taylor Riley self-quarantined in a back bedroom of their Noblesville home. She used an inhaler to help with her breathing and managed her symptoms at home through IU Health’s virtual doctor visits. Mike brought her food and she communicated with her infant via Face Time.
“She’s been up and down with the sickness,” said Mike. “We haven’t really had time to fully unwind and live as a normal family. My main focus was ‘just don’t mess up.’ I wanted my wife to be healthy and my son to remain healthy.”