“I could not breathe and had no energy,” recalls Carol about the excruciating painful symptoms she experienced at her Tarentum home on March 31st. “When I could no longer get out of my bed to go to the bathroom, that’s when I called out to my family that they needed to get me to a hospital quickly.”
Several days earlier Carol had been to an urgent care center complaining of flu-like symptoms, where she tested negative for the flu and was encouraged to go home, rest, drink lots of water, and take some over-the-counter medications. For the healthy, active great grandmother who was used to watching her five-year-old great granddaughter three days-a-week, the speed and severity of what followed was unbelievable.
“I remember my son saying he would call an ambulance, and the ambulance workers arriving already wearing their protective equipment and taking me to the Allegheny Health
Network hospital in Natrona Heights. And then I don’t remember anything else, because I was in a coma for seven days,” she explains. “I think the ambulance workers and the people at the hospital suspected COVID-19 but I don’t remember anyone saying it,” added Carol.
Carol came to learn that indeed COVID-19 was the culprit and that her family would need to be quarantined for 14 days. Fortunately, none of them developed any symptoms, not even her ailing husband who is battling stage four kidney disease.
But on Friday, April 24th, Carol was exuberant. After leaving the hospital on April 16 and being admitted for rehabilitation services at the Presbyterian SeniorCare Network Willows skilled nursing center, she was excited about the prospect of going back to her home in Tarentum. “I’m grateful that the Willows would take someone who was recovering from COVID,” noted Carol. “I had the greatest therapists in the world to help me get back my strength and back to being myself. What I was most concerned about was the 15 steps I’d have to go up in my house. But I’m feeling pretty confident that I can do that after the steps they’ve had me doing at the Willows. I feel I can go home and be safe. They gave me exercises to do when I get home. I really feel I will be fine.”
When asked what she would want people to know about her experience, Carol was emphatic, “I experienced a lot that I never want to experience again. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. If I have to wear a mask the rest of my life, I will.” She added, “It’s a very hard thing to do all that we are asked to do but pay attention, wear your mask, don’t be so anxious to go back to the way things were. We need to be very cautious.”
Carol left the Willows of Presbyterian SeniorCare Network on Sunday, April 26th happily wearing her mask.
Editor’s Note: Per the Presbyterian SeniorCare Network COVID-19 Admissions Guidelines, Carol was not COVID positive upon admissions to the Willows on April 16th. Previously COVID-19 positive candidates must meet certain criteria to be accepted for admissions into our skilled nursing centers and, as an added precaution, are kept isolated in their rooms for 14 consecutive days and cared for by team members who are wearing appropriate PPE. Also keep in mind that Carol’s experience may be different than others who have tested positive for COVID-19.