by Dianne Walker, 08/11/2020, Elk Rapids, MI

Adult Category

by Dianne Walker

2020 started out just wonderful with hope and optimism and feeling like our country was on a positive track. The Dow Jones was almost at 30,000 points. Unemployment was at an all time low for all races. Even the winter weather seemed to cooperate; snow but not too much and no frigid temperatures, so maybe the bay wouldn’t freeze and the high water level would go down.

We started hearing about a virus coming out of China in January but no one had any idea what the next months would bring. My brother-in-law passed away on June 3rd. My daughter and I decided to drive to his funeral in Minnesota on June 8th. My sister had always been there for me through trials in my life, and I wanted to be there for her. When we arrived she and my sister from Florida seemed to have colds along with a bad cough. They were tired but that seemed to be expected with all that was going on. But, four days later I got the cough and fatigue. Naively we did not suspect that we could have the Covid virus until my brother mentioned someone at his work had tested positive!! My daughter and I drove home on June 15 and were tested for Covid the next day. It turned out we were both positive along with 14 other members of our immediate family who had attended the funeral.

My daughter was asymptomatic and felt fine. I had a terrible cough, nausea, diarrhea and was very tired. I laid low for two weeks but could hardly keep any food or liquid down, and I became dehydrated and very weak. On Wednesday, June 24th, I awoke with a 101.9 temperature. My doctor called to check on me and after she heard my symptoms she told me to go to the Emergency Department (ED) at Munson. During my three hours in the ED I received an intravenous (IV) saline drip and something for the nausea. After checking my oxygen level I was discharged.

Five days later on Monday, June 29th, I woke up weak, barely able to walk and exhausted as I had not slept for two nights due to the constant coughing. I still was not able to eat or drink because of the nausea. My husband called the ED at Munson and said he would be bringing me in.

Upon arrival, I was met by staff fully clothed in PPE! I was given supplemental oxygen and an IV saline drip and medication for the nausea and diarrhea. I pleaded with them not to put me on a ventilator, and was reassured they would not unless it was a life or death situation.

After a few hours I was escorted by a transport team in PPE and a guard who cleared the halls as we entered my room. I felt like I had the plague! My room was beautiful, large and I had my own bathroom. This wing is normally used for heart surgery patients. The nurses were well trained in Covid procedures as they have had patients since March. I was the only Covid patient on the floor that day, so I was given a lot of attention. Of course they had to gear up with the PPE each time they came in and take it off before leaving my room. They did not come in often, mostly to take my vitals and bring me food. At first I was not interested in eating anything, but by the second day the nurses had me taking liquid food and by Wednesday I wanted a grill cheese sandwich! I had seen one on TV and it looked so good to me that I ordered one. I was on my way to recovery.

The doctors and nurses were so wonderful at Munson. The nurses confided in me that working with Covid patients was the hardest thing they had ever experienced. Many had spent the last days with a patient before they died and had been there to hold their hand and be their family. They had lost both young and old patients. This was very difficult for them. They were very attentive to me and so encouraging and helpful. I felt like a princess in my room. As the week progressed there were several other Covid patients who came and went.

I was very fortunate that I did not get Covid in March or April – they did not have a lot of medications to use at that time. I was able to get steroids for my lungs and cough, Remdesivir, an anti viral, and plasma from a recovered Covid patient. Within 24 hours I was feeling better. After 5 days of excellent care I was able to go home. It took me a few more weeks to gain my strength back. One level of measure for me was my progress climbing stairs. At first I had to stop half way to catch my breath going up stairs. Now I can go up without stopping!!

I was blessed to be held up in prayer and love by my friends and family. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support I received in cards, texts, emails, and phone calls from all over the country. I have reconnected with classmates from elementary through grad school. It was entertaining to hear the exaggerations and misinformation that got passed along the way. During this whole ordeal I felt as if I was being carried on the wings of angels. I know some of the those angels were the staff at Munson. It is so easy for us to take our health for granted. I have learned to be grateful every day for my health and all the blessings of love from family and friends. I have seen the silver lining in the gift of recovery and I will never take this wonderful life for granted.