Updated: Jul 13
The facility ended up having 30 positive cases among residents and staff members.
Jessica Lowry, age 39, Nursing Home CNA, Athens, Pennsylvania
Jessica's COVID-19 Story:
My COVID-19 story began on March 22, 2020: I am a CNA in a nursing home in Waverly, New York, COVID-19 had just begun hitting the U.S. My co-workers and I had heard rumors that some of our residents were experiencing Coronavirus symptoms, and that one co-worker was positive for COVID-19. At this time, these were just rumors and were not confirmed by any of the managers in our facility.
When I was working the day-shift that day, I realized I was having shortness of breath, and a dry cough. In addition, I was also struggling with pressure behind my eyes, and an extreme headache that no medicine would take away. I was feeling extremely exhausted and very tired. I began to feel a little stir of fear inside, that possibly, I had contracted COVID-19 myself.
That whole week, I continued to experience symptoms that included a dry cough, runny nose, severe headache, and pain behind my eyes, it was also extremely hard to catch my breath; I was feeling completely exhausted and my energy level was so low.
By the time my shift on Saturday, March 27th came around, I woke up getting ready for work, around 4 a.m., and I had a low fever of 101.2 but decided to go to work. I planned to explain to them upon check-in for my shift about how I was feeling. They were checking our temperature at the door and asking about symptoms. When I arrived, I had told them about the symptoms I had experienced throughout the week as well as the low-grade temperature that morning. They responded, "just keep eye on the temperature throughout the day." I was honest and told them I wasn't feeling well and I was actually crying, as I was both feeling horrible and scared about what was happening to me. I also confessed that I had heard about the rumor of us having COVID-19 in the facility and that I was worried, as I had been working on that floor all week. I got a snippy response and was told that they were just taking precautions with the temperature checking and regardless of how I felt, basically.... they needed me there. Reluctantly, I went in to work my usual shift, and somehow, I made it through the day.
By the end of that day, the rumors were confirmed both on social media and in the local newspaper; OUR CENTER WAS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 AND WE HAD ACTIVE CASES, BOTH IN RESIDENTS AND CO-WORKERS IN THE FACILITY...Really?? We had to hear it through the media?
The next day, I wasn't feeling any better, my symptoms were constant and getting worse, so I took it upon myself to go get tested. I had awakened with a sore throat and had white spots covering the entire back of my throat. I called into work that morning and I went to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, PA. I went in and explained what symptoms I was experiencing and that I had been around residents with symptoms, and the medical staff gowned up/masked up, and took a nasal swab to test for the Coronavirus. They also did tests to check for pneumonia, flu, and strep. I was sent home, to rest, and was told to quarantine from my husband David, my two sons, Grayson and Connor. I also quarantined in the bedroom, away from our kitty, Sue, and our dog Abby. as I didn't want to take a chance at getting any of them sick. I was to quarantine for 14 days, or until my test results came back.
I tested on March 28th and received positive results on April 5th.
When I came home from the doctor and began to quarantine, I was pretty much alone in my room all week. I was not able to be around my husband or kids, who were also required to stay home from work and school to quarantine as well. The times that I was not sleeping, it was lonely and depressing. My husband would come in with my medicines and to check on me.... he did a great job of caring for me, from afar.
I was taking Ibuprofen and Tylenol Flu, drinking lots of fluids and soups. My mom and dad, Alfred and Robin, who were also worried about me, dropped off a care package on my front porch that you could see was packed lovingly by them. It contained Emergen-C packets, soups, lots of Vitamin C, as well as other supplements. My doctor had prescribed me a Z-pak and told me to take high doses of Vitamin C, but honestly, nothing touched this sickness. The severe body aches and chills lasted a week, March 29th-April 6th, diarrhea, and GI issues lasted 3 days after, and from the day of my first symptom, I have had a cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. I also ended up losing my sense of taste and smell, which I knew was a classic symptom of COVID-19.
Recently, on August 11th, I had a relapse of sorts, with high temperatures of 103.6., I ended up in the hospital again. I couldn't walk, as I had severe body aches and chills. It felt like I was getting COVID AGAIN... (I had just told my daughter I didn't dare to be around my new grand-baby, Adaline, a couple of days prior to this relapse because I felt like I was getting sick again.) At the hospital, they helped me into a room, but I had to be wheeled in, as I had no strength to walk. They hooked me up immediately to an IV, as I was dehydrated, and my fever was very high. They started running tests, including the rapid COVID-19 test, took a chest X-ray, to check for blood clots, and pneumonia. they received my results and it showed that I was positive for Covid-19 again! The rest of my tests were clear, so I was discharged home and once again went into quarantine for another 2 weeks.
Doctors are baffled and so am I. No-one has been able to tell me how this happened to me again: Was it a relapse? Had I become infected again? Did the virus lay dormant and then re-appear? I don't know the answer and it doesn't seem that anyone else does either... I just wish this nightmare would end and I could go back to life as normal.
At the writing of this story, October 17th, 2020, I still suffer from after-effects and it's been about 7 months since I was infected with the Coronavirus. I know that there are many others out there, like me, who contracted the virus and are still having bad days and symptoms that just won't go away. I, like many, have not been able to resume my life fully. I long for the days when I can feel normal again and not fear a relapse and possible re-hospitalization. In addition to my bad days and fears of relapse, I was let go from my job, after being out sick for too long. I have not worked since I called in sick on March 28th; I look forward to the day that I can go back to working and being with residents again. I love the work that I do!
My advice to those who have not gotten COVID-19 is just please use precaution out there and any slight sign, get tested, don't wait...and be safe, I know so many think that it is a joke, but if you get it bad like some of us you will realize its real, and being a Long-Hauler is the worst!! There is no light at the end of the Coronavirus tunnel and you don't know if you will ever feel normal again. I don't wish this upon anyone.
My best friend and husband, David, took great care of me while I was sick.
"For better or for worse".
Me and my 3-year-old grandson, Alister
Me and my new baby granddaughter, Adaline,
these babies have my heart!