Updated: Jul 13, 2021

It was a lonely, dark time and was especially hard as I was so sick with COVID-19 and had no human interaction..

Jennifer Lukens, employed by State Farm Insurance (an agency of Robert Gaines) Licensed agent & Office Manager, Saltillo, Mississippi (shown here with her husband, Kyle of 32 years)


My husband Kyle and I have been married for 32 years.  I have 2 daughters, Chelsea age 29 and Maddison age 25, and one little grandson Jack, age 3 1/2. 

My COVID-19 symptoms began Tuesday, August 11, 2020.  I woke up feeling fatigued and had terrible body aches and a low-grade fever. 

I am a licensed agent and have been for over 30 years. I called into work that day and went to West Main Medical Center, in Tupelo, Mississippi, not far from where I live, and had them do a "rapid COVID-19" swab. My test showed a negative result.  The Doctor told me if I didn't feel better by Thursday, to return and we would test again, as he felt that I probably tested too early.

The next day, I was worse, I woke up with a 102.9 fever and a very sore throat, it felt like I was swallowing glass. 

That evening my mother suffered a catastrophic stroke. I spent the night in ICU with her, then I went to urgent care after my daughter relieved me.  Went back to the doctor and I tested positive for COVID-19.

My symptoms were worse: my chest hurt and I developed a bad cough.

The next day I could not stop vomiting and became dehydrated.  My husband took me to the Emergency room, and I was assessed, my oxygen saturation levels were in the '80s.  I was admitted to the hospital and moved to the COVID unit.  The doctors tried to get my oxygen levels up with regular oxygen and medications. Nothing worked, so they finally placed me on a bi-pap machine and it took hours to get my saturation levels to go over 90.  My family had been told that if my 02 levels didn't reach 90 by a certain time, that I would have to be vented. Luckily I did get up to 90 and was able to avoid being placed on a ventilator.

My vital signs went haywire, my blood pressure kept plummeting, and the doctors were concerned that blood clots could develop, due to my D-Dimer levels being so elevated.  The inflammation levels in my body were so high.  It was decided that due to how sick I was, that receiving donor convalescent plasma and Remdesivir, was the best treatment plan. I got the plasma and then, received Remdesivir for the next seven days.  

About 3 days in I started to feel a little better but was extremely weak.  Sadly, while I was in the hospital, my mother passed away on August 18th, and that set me back as I couldn't stop crying which effected my breathing,  I had to somehow push her passing to the back of my mind, so I could breathe. It was around that time, that a new symptom started: I had severe diarrhea for days and had difficulty eating,  I lost 16 pounds in two weeks, I was so strapped down with monitors and tubes I had to use a bedside toilet. Being in bed and sitting still for so long made me very very weak; the emotional toll that losing my mom took on me and my body was horrible, as well, and made it difficult for me to recover.

When I was at the two-week mark, they started reducing the pressures on my bi-pap machine, from 85 down to 40. Over a few days, I was finally able to be moved to oxygen.  After 2-days, of proving that my lungs no longer needed the bi-pap machine, I was finally discharged home on oxygen. 

When I was home the second week I started running a fever again. I got a secondary infection of bronchitis. I had a terrible cough and a fever. The cough lasted for weeks. During this time, my siblings all came down to see my mom, Susan Lucero, before she passed away. Due to my being so sick, I was unable to see them and was unable to say good-bye to my mom. I am devastated by this and miss her so much. I used this time that I was ill, to talk to God, and read my bible.

It took 5 weeks at home to get my strength back and to breathe on my own.  During this time, I heard that the entire office was positive for COVID-19, and some of my coworkers ranged from having no symptoms while others had severe symptoms, like me.  I was the only one in our office that had viral pneumonia and had to be hospitalized; I am grateful that none of my work family had to experience what I did, as I would not wish that upon anyone.

Our boss, Robert Gaines was very understanding and allowed me the time off work so that I could take care of myself, to heal and grieve over the loss of my mom. I’ll always be grateful to him for that!

After two weeks I tested negative for the virus but had positive antibodies.  I planned to help those with COVID-19 by "paying it forward" and donating my plasma and was scheduled to do that, but I broke my leg badly in a number of places: (I was rushing towards a store and I was messing with my mask. My left foot hit the side of a concrete parking barrier that I didn't see, and my foot got stuck in it, and my body went flying forward, while my foot was stuck and my leg twisted in an odd direction. The twisting broke my leg in a number of places. In that fall, I hit my shoulder and head on the concrete) (Between losing my mom, getting COVID-19, and breaking my leg, 2020 has undoubtedly been the worst year ever!)

Our church family at West Jackson Baptist Church was so supportive and loving, during this extremely hard time, for my family. Pastor Keith Cochran, held my mom's service after I was home for two weeks. He opened up the church and we had a memorial service, for just close family and a few friends, in loving memory and tribute of her life. My sister in Christ, Cindy Mccully, who is so wonderful, helped me plan my Mom's memorial, as I was still horribly weak. She sang two beautiful songs and Brother Keith did an amazing job honoring mom's life and reading a beautiful scripture about loss.

The period of time that I was hospitalized due to COVID-19 was one of the most depressing and dark times of my life. Of course, it is a depressing time for all who have it, but I think more so as we are living in a small town. The hospital I was in, was North Mississippi Medical Center and they did things a little bit differently than they do, in larger hospitals. (On the COVID ward, we were of course isolated for a reason) But.....IV meds were dispensed from the hallway and the tubes ran under the door.  The doctors talked to you through a window while they were on a phone, they did not enter the room.  The isolation was very difficult, as in normal times, PRE-COVID, you could at least have a family member in the hospital room with you, to support you and just be there for you. During the pandemic, as you know, no-one is allowed to even come to visit you, let alone be in the room to hold your hand and comfort you. Believe me, when you fear for your life and feel this horrible, you long for human interaction, during this time, more than you likely ever have in your life. That's how incredibly vulnerable you feel when you are this ill with a COVID-19 infection.

What kept me going was the loving support of my husband, Kyle, and my daughters, Chelsea and Maddy, and my grandson, Jack who is 3 1/2.  We all talked on FACETIME daily, so I felt less alone.  (I would never wish those few weeks that I experienced on anyone, as it was simply put, the worst few weeks in my life.

The scariest part, was when I asked questions to the doctors about my illness, treatment plan, the virus, etc... and about 75% of the time I asked questions, and the answers that I received were "we don't know" or "we are still learning"!! This virus is very deadly and it is REAL and I don't think anyone knows just yet exactly how to treat it effectively. It is a very scary time, in the world, right now and I hope that everyone is doing everything that they can to protect themselves..... I DO NOT WISH ON ANYONE THE WEEKS OF SICKNESS AND ISOLATION THAT I WENT THROUGH, DURING MY SICKEST TIMES WHILE HAVING THE CORONAVIRUS.

The love of my life, Kyle....I am forever grateful for him!

Maddy, Chelsea, Jack, and me... I love my family!

Our beautiful grandson, Jack, 3 1/2 years old

Our pride and joy!!


My beautiful mom, Susan Lucerno. "I miss you and love you, mom... more than you could ever know"!!

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