Dallas area woman who lived through being t-boned by an 18 wheeler gets hit by a COVID-19 infection.
REBECCA IS NOW PART OF THE COVID-19 LONG-HAULER COMMUNITY AND HAS BEEN SICK FOR SLIGHTLY OVER 4 MONTHS.
Rebecca “Becky” Ancira Robertson, age 48, Former Elementary Teacher, Photographer, Philanthropist and VP of the Community HOA, McKinney, Texas
BECKY'S COVID-19 STORY: story written by Becky and shared by Carolyn Andrews, writer & founder of Truestoriesofcovid19.com
My COVID-19 symptoms began on June 17th, 2020. On June 16th, I had been exposed to someone who had the virus, while I was at a Brain Injury and PT Clinic. I had been attending, as I was seeking care for an accident my daughter and I were in last summer when we were t-boned by a semi-truck going 75mph. After extensive treatment with a Neurologist and 3 Orthopedic surgeries, I was finally going to focus on my brain rehab. Things were going really well and we were seeing so much progress and I was connecting with people like myself; others recovering from accidents and brain trauma.
The virus was just starting to ravage Dallas and we were now considered a “hot spot”, so I was extra careful and due to my brain injury- I wrote down every place I went, who I was around, and a few details about what we discussed (I would forget things quite often due to the brain trauma caused by the accident). We would usually have lunch and group therapy every day in a small room with roughly 4-5 patients.
On this particular day, “Gary”, a fellow patient with a severe brain injury, sat across from me for a few hours after we had our computer training. Typically, we were all VERY diligent about sanitizing our space, mask-wearing, and handwashing; however, this day was different. “Gary” arrived without a mask on and his face was swollen, nose was running and I swear he looked like Patrick Dempsey from the movie Outbreak. I asked him why he was not wearing a mask and he replied, “I can’t breathe and I feel really warm.” Immediately, I asked the director to please make Gary wear his mask because I did not feel safe and I was told that since Texas did not have a mask mandate in place that they could not require it. Unfortunately, due to my pending lawsuit, I had to stay and complete my rehab in spite of the obvious risks. In hindsight, I should have left the moment I saw how ill he was.
On my drive home, I became increasingly more and more anxious and realized what may have just happened…as I walked into my home, I asked my husband and daughter to stay away from me until I got a COVID-19 test because I thought I may have contracted it at therapy. Instinctively, I just knew it, but was in denial. I went upstairs to take a nap and after twenty minutes of tossing and turning, my entire body began to ache. This was not altogether unusual as my body was always sore after my car wreck, but this pain was different.
I woke up on June 17th, the following morning, and felt like every muscle in my body had been wrung out like a wet wash-rag and my head hurt so badly that it felt like it was in a vice. Truly, the worst headache I have ever had, a migraine of the most vicious type. It hurt to swallow, but I did not have a cough- basically just mild congestion. Immediately, I called my neurologist and begged them to get me in for trigger point injections and Toradol- I could not take the pain. It was overwhelming. As the hours passed, I began sweating and decided to take my temp: 99.9., a low-grade fever. This relieved my anxiety because up to this point, all we knew about COVID-19 was the need to go to the ER if you couldn’t breathe or had a fever above 104.
(I digress, back in March, when COVID became a household name, 3 of my doctors warned me that I needed to be EXTRA careful and vigilant because this virus would most definitely kill me due to the major surgery that I had months prior, in January.) With that in mind, I began dedicating all of my time to Coronavirus research. 24/7 all that I did was read medical journals, wrote doctors in other countries asking what protocols they were using because I needed to know EVERYTHING there was in case I were to contract the virus. I have a tendency to be ADHD and OCD, so I would post like a maniac hoping that maybe I might slow the spread, get someone to wear a mask, and to please take this seriously. I had already written down exactly what I wanted my doctor to treat me with and knew that I would NEVER be one of those people that ended up in the hospital. At that time, hospital admissions for the Coronavirus were perceived as a death sentence.
As day 2 progressed and knowing that I still had 24 hours before I could see my primary care doctor at McKinney Family Medicine- the anxiety and fear hit HARD. I cried. I was scared. I knew that after all my diligence, and reclusive behavior trying so hard not to get sick that my time had come. I started thinking I was crazy, but after months of watching bodies loaded onto refrigerated trucks in NY, seeing the death toll rise every night before bed, and having lost 5 friends from high school to the virus- it was more than I could handle. I was delirious and felt like I needed to start calling my family to say goodbye. At bed-time that night, although my body was entirely exhausted, I was WIDE awake. I took 2 Ambien, melatonin, and Night-time Mucinex and it did nothing; I proceeded to lay awake all night, worrying.
The next day, when I went for testing, my 50-year-old husband, Patton, my 17-year-old daughter, Gianna, and I decided it would be best if we all got tested, "as a family", so we all entered through the back of the doctor’s office aka "the sick side" and while wearing our masks, we all waited inside a small patient room. The doctor asked us a series of questions. At this point, he had treated upwards of 100 COVID patients by then and was confident he could diagnose prior to test results, as they were still taking nearly 10 days to get the official results back. My husband and daughter were symptom-free and the doctor did not seem concerned about them but put them on an immune-boosting vitamin/supplement regimen after administering a nasal swab. He asked them to leave the room so I could take off my mask and get my swab done- he noticed that my nose was red and inflamed, but there was no fluid in my ears which ruled out a sinus infection.
The doctor logged all of my symptoms and told me he wanted to give me the same treatment that worked for all of his other patients, which was fine….until he mentioned HCQ. The dreaded drug that was all over the news that caused heart palpitations and death (you can’t believe everything you read on the internet). I thought long and hard as I cried and finally said, “Doc, give me ALL you have! I will take anything. Just do not let me die!” I insisted that he also give me a B12 shot and Dexamethasone as I had read several studies in other countries that had positive results.
My daily medication Protocol:
100 mg Zinc 5 times a day
1- 81 mg aspirin a day
100 mg CBD 4-5 times a day
50 mg of Losartan Potassium daily
250 mg Azithromycin a day
200 mg Hydroxychloroquine 2 times a day
Aleve liquid gels for body aches
Mucinex as directed day/night
Vitamins D and C
I began taking everything at once and the doctor assured me that I would start to feel better in a day or two. I didn’t. I got much much worse as the days went on. Not only was I battling the worst kind of insomnia, but I began having delusions and mania- which made my family and friends think I needed to go to the hospital or a mental ward asap.
My symptoms were never consistent and came and went every day. Some days, it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest and it hurt to breathe. All of a sudden, I understood what people with COVID meant when they said had been saying that they felt like they were drowning. I tried to blog my journey on FB and explain in grave detail to my husband exactly what I was going through. Ironically, instead of support, I had a large group of family and friends who said, "I was overreacting," "it was a hoax", "it was the flu", and that "I just needed to get some sleep". What they did not understand was that I could not sleep and that the only thing that helped was documenting my plight as a form of therapy, and researching, hoping to find the magic cure. I became extremely depressed.
I set up a makeshift triage in my bathroom with 2 oximeters, 2 thermometers, 2 BP cuffs, and all of my meds. I used to work in research years ago and knew how critical it was to cross-reference every number to make sure they were correct. I took my vitals every 4-6 hours around the clock and had a nurse assigned to me so I could text, call or FACETIME her 24/7. It was like being in a hospital but soooo much better.
Every day that passed, my symptoms became worse. I was so exhausted and did not even have the energy to bathe. My chest felt like it was on fire, a dry cough set in, my BP was all over the map, my O2 levels were encroaching low 90s, my feet began to itch and peel, I would gasp for air and it hurt to speak, every time I closed my eyes I would see horrifying images of people screaming in hospitals begging for their lives- I called my CPA and revised my financial affairs, as I was almost certain that this was not going to end well.
All of a sudden in the middle of the night, my blood pressure dropped and my heart-rate skyrocketed to 145 and I was freezing- I jumped into a warm bath because my body temperature dropped to 95.7 and then I wrapped myself in a heated blanket. (I decided that I needed to have a family discussion- I told my daughter and husband that if I were to die that it would be in the comfort of my home with my loved ones and pets and not have to say goodbye over Facetime.) It was a heart-wrenching conversation, but they understood and supported my decision. I called my nurse and begged her to get a CT scan and X-Ray and she scheduled the appts for me.
By now, it was June 29th and my daughter said she wasn’t feeling well. My heart broke. The guilt set in. Had I given my 17-year-old daughter COVID? We went to the doctor the following day and she had 6 of the 10 common symptoms, so she began the same treatment as the doctor had given me.
The scans revealed that I had developed bilateral pneumonia and pleurisy, so I was given a nebulizer to use 4 times a day, two inhalers (Budesonide, Ventolin, and Symbicort), and then restarted the entire protocol all over again with a stronger antibiotic, Zyrtec and hydroxyzine. It had been well over 2 weeks since I had any sleep so I was anxiety-ridden, exhausted, and now worried about my daughter. She had most of the symptoms, but far more mild. We both lost our sense of smell and taste, but since we never ate then it did not seem to bother us. Our fevers would come and go and never rise above 101.5.
The doctor suspects I got a different strain from my daughter because it was no longer just upper respiratory- it had moved into my digestive tract like my daughter’s. We were now having GI issues; nauseated, but never threw up, severe loose stools, nonstop, and had no appetite. I lost 12 pounds in 9 days and Gianna lost 9 pounds in a week. I consistently had blood in my stool and did the best I could to drink 8-10 protein waters a day, to keep hydrated. Eventually, I had to go to the doctor to get an IV bag full of vitamins, electrolytes, and more dexamethasone. I had to go in my pajamas because I did not have the strength to dress myself.
My husband was like having our own cabana boy in the house; he ran to the store every few hours for Kleenex, cold meds, Vicks, vitamins, batteries for the BP, and oximeter machines. He was exhausted and I could tell he was scared. He finally gave up distancing and began sleeping at my side with a mask on so he could monitor my temperature, breathing, etc.. We still have no idea how he never got sick. Knock on wood. (I am so grateful that he was there by my side, even though I was afraid that he might get infected; having him there comforted me)
I don’t think I prayed this much in my life. I begged God to please let me live long enough to see my daughter have kids, to hold my grandma’s hands as she returned to Heaven, to re-kindle my broken marriage, and give me a chance to make amends with family members who I had long since held grudges against. I wore the rosary, my sister, Lori gave me before she passed away from cancer years ago (at age 24) -I knew she was at my side.
Since I had zero energy, it became my mission to help others and spend all of my time posting everything there was to know about the disease in hopes that I might help save others, find a miracle cure and encourage people to see a doctor if they felt ill or were exposed. I know it drove my family and friends crazy, but I felt like I was on a mission to save the world from contracting the virus.
It took 3 weeks for my daughter to recover and she still seems to have some latent brain fog 4 months later, but all in all, she pulled through yet does suffer PTSD and is hyper-vigilant about safety precautions, mask-wearing, and posting on her social media. She gave me strength and hope and has been the best support system I could have ever asked for. She is both my daughter and my best friend.
After an 11 day wait- all 3 of us received negative test results, which my doctor had already realized were roughly 70% accurate. (There are a number of false positives and false negatives in these tests, even today) My doctor was sure that we had COVID-19, no matter what the nasal swab results were.
I was starting to feel better after about 2 months after my first symptom, and one day, I decided to go into the backyard to get some sun, as I was finally starting to regain my energy….within minutes, I blacked out, fell backward onto a metal stand, and ended up with several bruises. Vertigo, coupled with brain fog made me realize that I was best off staying upstairs and holding onto railings until I was more stable. The crazy part about my bruises (and I told my doc) was that I felt zero pain. None. I even pressed on my bruise and felt nothing. A friend sent me an article about a recent COVID discovery that stated COVID-19 can provide an analgesic effect that keeps people from feeling any pain. I shared the findings with my medical team.
At the writing of this story, October 25th, 2020, it has been a little over 4 months now since my first symptom, and I am slowly feeling a bit better. Occasionally, I will cough up blood but was told it is a normal after-effect. The fatigue is persistent. Sleep has gotten much better. It still hurts to breathe and my heart rate is still all over the map, often jumping over 100 bpm at rest; I am also told that this is a common after-effect of COVID-19 Long-Haulers. I carry the oximeter in my purse to monitor it throughout the day. I was told pneumonia and pleurisy could linger for months, but I am alive. That is all that matters.
I am currently a member of 5 support groups online and it’s probably been the best medicine so far: sharing stories, tears, fears, hopes, encouragement, treatments, and keeping abreast of the latest Coronavirus developments. I have been blessed. I may have lost a lot of friends along the way- the ones who still send me 5G and vaccine chipping conspiracy theories, but I have made friends from all over the world who share a similar journey and that makes my heart smile.
I have a long way to go, but they have a new Coronavirus Rehab facility in Frisco, Tx which my doctor has encouraged me to enroll in and be a part of the Coronavirus research, which may help others. I will do anything that might help to keep someone from experiencing what I have.
I’ve had a lot of really tragic things happen in my life, but this was by far the worst. Luckily, I have a great sense of humor and I am a firm believer that I got this virus for a reason- sounds crazy, but if I didn’t turn this experience into a positive then I would have suffered for nothing. My therapist once said that the best therapy is helping others. This was a very humbling adventure because I never ask for help and now I HAD to. My husband and daughter were exhausted and needed help. My neighbors were great and started a meal train for us and were very supportive.
I can’t thank my husband, my daughter, and my friends for being my beacons of strength along the way.
I firmly believe that if we are unified and vigilant that we can control the spread of the virus long enough to get a vaccine and more viable treatments, but that requires ALL of us. And yes, I will most definitely get a vaccine. As sick as I have been, I never developed any antibodies, unfortunately, and am sad that I don't qualify to donate convalescent plasma to others who desperately need it.
Now more than ever, my favorite quote means even more: “Don’t let your memories of yesterday, nor your dreams of tomorrow, steal away from your today!”
My husband (Chef), Patton, with me. The virus brought us
closer- I am so grateful for him!
My daughter, Gianna (my best friend), and me
getting ready for a Maroon 5 concert. Fun-times, PRE-COVID-19
Our fur-babies, Koda & Murphy
My husband and I Pre-Covid-19 days when life was normal. (It will get back there again one day!)
One of the bruises that I couldn't feel, after blacking out and falling, outside.
A peek at my bedside table.. my "new normal"
June 10th, visiting my precious grandmother, Alicia "Amo" Ancira, in Boerne, TX