Norfolk artist undergoes life-changing surgery during pandemic, community raises thousands

Posted at 1:46 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 21:37:35-04

NORFOLK, Va. - There's never really a good time to get news that will change your life, especially in the middle of a pandemic.

Nevertheless, some things cannot be controlled, and that's what happened to Norfolk artist Christopher Revels.

After much objection, he went to the doctor at the end of April to find out that the pain he had been experiencing in his cheek was a cyst rubbing up on his sinus cavity that needed to be removed immediately.

With the hospitals filled with COVID-19 patients, he didn't know what that would mean for his treatment and path forward. Like many hospitals, Sentara Norfolk General changed its protocol to keep patients, both COVID-positive and COVID-negative, safe.

"Throughout the whole ordeal, I was kept separated from the general population. I didn’t see many other people," Revels said. In addition to the cyst being removed, Revels also lost four teeth. His rehabilitation is expected to last upwards of six months.

While in the hospital, Revels said it was lonely and he didn't see anyone other than the nurses and doctors taking care of him. Alone and scared, he did what he does best and turned to his artwork for comfort.

In a drawing, he re-created the waiting room he was in because it helped keep his mind off of the looming surgery.

The price tag to take care of the surgery was about $4,000. Christopher's sister created a GoFundMe to see if they could raise a few dollars. They ended up raising more than their goal in less than 12 hours, and Christopher had no hesitations heading into surgery.

Christopher said the support from friends and even strangers was overwhelming.

"It’s nice to know that [...] in a time of receiving receiving [and] holding onto and cherishing what you have for you and your family [people are sharing] to an extended family, to a friend, a person in the community, like myself," he said. "I was so scared about what could happen and I was so proud of the community coming together to help me."

With a second chance at life, he offers this: "If you really need help and you need to go to the hospital you need to trust yourself and you need to be smart about going there."

He recommends you wear your gloves and face masks, and wash your hands as often as you can.

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