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COVID-19 is ‘worst thing I’ve ever experienced’

A Cloquet man’s battle with COVID-19 left him hospitalized with liver failure and blood clots, but also a renewed appreciation for his wife and family.

Cloquet resident Robert Peacock (center) sits on his front porch with his niece Jordis Swanson (left) and nephew Josiah Swanson. Peacock spent more than a week at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth battling COVID-19. Jamey Malcomb/Pine Journal

Robert Peacock hadn’t been feeling well, but he didn’t believe anything serious was wrong.

Peacock, 38, thought he had ear and sinus infections after testing negative for COVID-19 at the Min No Ayu Win Clinic in Cloquet. The doctor gave him some medicine to treat the infections and sent Peacock home to rest.

Several days later, he was still not feeling better and began to sneeze “hard enough to pull a muscle,” he said, but on Wednesday, Aug. 19, things got much worse.

“It just went from sneezing the day before to coughing up blood on that Wednesday,” Peacock said.

Peacock went back to Min No Ayu Win to see his physician. His doctor thought it could be a recurrence of pneumonia, something Peacock had dealt with about four years ago. To be sure, however, the doctor administered a rapid COVID-19 test before sending Peacock back home.


“The doctor then called me back 15 minutes later to give the news that I had COVID, which really kicked me in the rear,” Peacock said. “I know how I felt that Wednesday, but I was also in shock because I didn’t know what it meant or what would happen.”

Once home, Peacock tried to quarantine himself in a basement bedroom to prevent the infection from spreading to his wife or Jordis and Josiah Swanson, the niece and nephew he cares for.

After several days of trying to battle the disease at home and a trip to Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet, Peacock was admitted to St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth when his fever shot up 103 degrees and his oxygen level was at 75% of where it should be.

Even after arriving at St. Luke’s, Peacock’s condition continued to deteriorate.

“By Tuesday (Aug. 25), my infection numbers were really bad,” Peacock said. “They had to put me on this medicine for liver failure, and I had to get shots in my stomach every day for the blood clotting.”

What’s more, the drugs Peacock received to treat his liver failure prevented him from keeping any food down for several days, causing him to lose nearly 20 pounds during his ordeal with COVID-19.

The doctors also started treating Peacock with an antiviral drug known to be effective against the disease. He said his numbers began to improve “drastically” by the end of the week, though he had to stay in the hospital until his oxygen levels were consistently above 90%.

The experience was particularly hard on Jordis, 14, whose father died five years ago.


“It was rough,” Jordis said. “It was really scary because I look up to him so much.”

Peacock was initially hesitant to leave his family — particularly after Jordis lost her father — or show vulnerability. He even continued working as a marketing consultant for Michelle Lee’s Minnesota State Senate campaign and for a number of video game companies.

“I was still trying to work on a political campaign while trying to get video game deals done,” Peacock said. “I guess I learned that I can’t be Superman, and that was one thing my niece had a hard time with when I came home — that Superman is also Clark Kent. I’m not just the strong guy that can do everything.”

Peacock left the hospital to continue recovering at home about three weeks ago. He feels better, he said, but is still “about 75%” of normal. He works about four hours a day now and is seeing the doctor later this week to talk about when he can begin taking on more.

“I know there are people that have it worse, but this is definitely the worst thing I’ve ever experienced,” he said.

The experience was harrowing for Peacock, but it also reminded him of the importance of his relationship with his wife, Jamie Peacock.

“She was a great emotional support,” he said. “I think she was very worried, but at the same time she just made sure our relationship got better. We realized how we made each other complete.”

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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