Updated: Jul 13
Lisa Trujillo Lozano- PRE-COVID, on a sunny day heading towards her salon...wants to help you by telling her story.
Lisa Trujillo Lozano, age 48, Hair Salon Owner (Wise Guys Salon), Louisville, Kentucky
Lisa's COVID-19 story:
Q&A with TrueStoriesofCovid19.com (writer, Becky Ancira Robertson) with Lisa Trujillo Lozano
What month or date did your symptoms begin?: I was exposed on Feb 21st during a birthday celebration for my cousin, Amanda at the Omni Louisville Hotel at Bob’s Steakhouse. Soon after, it was all over the news that there were COVID-19 cases tied to a Church Conference being held at the hotel.
What were some of your first symptoms, tell us in your words about that day or night, when you noticed something was not right and you began to first develop symptoms: I began exhibiting flu-like symptoms on Feb 26th and was tested for the flu and was negative. Without having access to COVID-19 tests as it was still a bit early and COVID-19 wasn't officially being talked about in the United States, yet, I went to work the following week and worked with 5-6 clients while wearing a mask and ensuring all safety measures were taken. I did hug one client’s mother who became sick shortly after and is still suffering to this day.
On the following Monday, I spiked a fever, my extremities were tingling, and I felt like I could not breathe. The hospital did not have any COVID tests, yet they swabbed my throat and sent it off to an infectious disease lab. My husband of 8 years, Edward, waited patiently in the back room.
My symptoms got worse and I received a call from the Infectious Disease Control and found out I was COVID positive. I returned to the hospital and they said there was nothing they could do for me unless I required a ventilator. I was simply told to take Tylenol and quarantine.
I tried calling my doctor and never received any return calls. I was scared, full of anxiety, and had nowhere to turn. We had no help, and no one knew about it.
I began to quarantine for a period of 54 days in my room. Luckily, my husband was off work from Ford and was able to tend to my needs. He would mask up, wear gloves and stay distant, yet brought me food 3 times a day, religiously.
I was hypersensitive to light and noise, so I literally sat in the dark. I was frightened for my life and was having cognitive issues. For at least 3 nights, I prayed to God, because I thought I was going to die. I did not want to go to the hospital because I was afraid I would never come out alive. I spent hours watching the leaves grow on the limbs from the trees outside my window. I went 3 days fever-free. I still had not seen a doctor.
The symptoms fluctuated. I had zero energy to walk around. I could not breathe. All my extremities were constantly tingling. My hair was falling out. My lips became so chapped that I developed a red irritated ring around my entire mouth which resembled a bad chemical burn, but ironically, I felt no pain. The inflammation was completely numb and lasted a month. My heart rate was all over the place- even at rest, it would hit 200 bpm. I would try to get up and felt like I was having a heart attack.
I was sweating so much and so dehydrated that I lost 20 pounds. One morning my husband came in to bring me my food and his jaw dropped. He said my skin looked completely grey. He was scared and later told me he was scared I was not going to make it.
What after-effects do you suffer from, if any?: COVID brain fog: my memory is now compromised. I cannot seem to find my words. My husband had mentioned “asparagus” and I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. He had to show me a photograph so that I could understand. This has never happened to me before. My brain is definitely not the same. Things that were easily understood before are now very confusing. Oftentimes, I misplace things and I get frustrated quite easily.
Before I got sick, I used to sing to my clients. I wanted to get my breathing back, so I would take brief walks around our pool and try to condition and strengthen my lungs by singing. Although everyone advised me to slow down, I knew I had to get back to my old self, so I continued to pace myself.
I took pictures along the way to document my journey and one day I noticed that my eyes looked weird. I looked into the mirror and noticed a jelly looking substance in my eye. I went to the optometrist for an evaluation and was told that I had inflammation behind my eye referred to as “chemosis”. The doctor treated me with steroid drops, but my vision was still impaired. Ultimately, the chemosis tuned into glaucoma.
My livelihood depends on my steady hand, my creativity, ability to stand for long periods of time, and my ability to see every strand of hair I cut- I struggled with what might be my new reality.
Depression had hit me hard. I kept wondering when I would get better, why was this lasting so long? The leg tingling got worse and was extremely painful. After years of being on my feet for a living 9+ hours a day, now I could not even stand up longer than ten minutes at a time without pain and exhaustion. I felt as if I were falling behind and would often lay down to try and regain my energy.
Since I was never able to get a hold of a doctor, my mother, who works with the brain at the University hospital locally suggested I see a neurologist who specialized in my particular symptoms. My mom arranged an appointment with a Nerve Neurologist, who was able to get me an evaluation. The Neurologist had said a Harvard doctor was interested in my case and wanted to do a “nerve punch” as well as a biopsy in my hip and ankle to determine why I was enduring such persistent pain/tingling.
The bad news…
I was diagnosed with small fiber neuropathy, dysautonomia, and was placed on 4 different heart monitors, and they discovered 2 regurgitating valves and a hole in my heart. I am currently taking Gabapentin and pain medication as we continue to monitor the progress of this virus as it takes its toll on my body.
I began physical therapy via telehealth. I would do 8 squats and my HR would spike to 180. I worked out 1 min on and 1 minute off.
I finally decided to consult with an Electrophysiology Cardiologist as I felt like my immune system was attacking itself and I was not getting any better.
My GI tract was impaired, my heart was never beating regularly, sweating one minute, and then chills the next. I also developed skin rashes.
I never knew what symptom would show up next and when. I knew I had to become my own advocate because It seemed like no one was listening or understood what I was going through. This virus had attacked every organ in my body. I had good days and bad days and days I just wanted to die rather than suffer any longer. This is very out of character for me as I am usually incredibly positive and always see the rainbow in the storm.
I had always focused on my diet and started juicing 8 years ago. I eat healthy organic foods and enjoyed cooking with my husband. Now, I have to sit on a stool to prepare my meals since I have no energy to stand anymore. This was not the life I once knew. I was once healthy and energetic. I no longer feel like myself but refuse to give up.
I am currently doing speech therapy twice a week via telehealth and speaking with a Psychiatrist to help me cope with the fear, anxiety, frustration, and my new normal. I must come to terms with the fact that I am now disabled. Unfortunately, I am still not able to work.
How long have you been sick? I am currently approaching my 9th month of being sick and I know that I didn't get sick for no reason; I will continue to share my journey because if I can save just one life, then it would be worth it.
Since I was among the first in my peer group to get sick and it was so early in the Pandemic, I decided to share my story online with the public and the news. I received so much hate, criticism, and disbelief that I finally took it down, but now I feel like my story will be heard and make a difference. I cannot watch the world be so cavalier about a virus that destroys your body.
Do you know how you contracted the virus? As I had mentioned above, I recall the night that I likely contracted the virus. I am always very cautious and would wear a mask long before the pandemic; in fact, as a hairdresser, I would wear a mask every year from November to March to avoid getting the flu. Little did I know, the masks may have saved my clients’ lives while I was sick. The one time I did not sanitize my hands after touching a surface was the night of February 21st when I paid for the bill at the Omni. I was the only one at our table who touched the plastic receipt holder other than the waiter. There was literally no other time that I had not washed or sanitized my hands, and it was shortly after that when the outbreak at the Omni had hit the news.
Do you have any advice for those who have not yet gotten COVID-19? Please make sure you have everything you need at home, in the event that you get sick. Be prepared. Have your freezer stocked up for survival mode. Wear a face shield, glasses, wash your clothes when you come home, and wash your hair to be sure there are no droplets that may be contagious. COVID-19 is unimaginable.
It is NOT a red or blue thing- IT IS A LIFE OR DEATH THING!
The love of her life, Edward Lozano, married 8 years
Her husband of 8 years, and best friend, Edward Lozano
(friends for 13 years before getting married)