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Thursday, June 20, 2024

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Avalon Resident ‘Blessed’ After Tussle With Virus

By Eric Conklin

To access the Herald’s local coronavirus/COVID-19 coverage, click here.
AVALON – It’s March 13, and Debi and her husband have packed their Lexus SUV and are traveling home from a two-month stay in Ocala, FL. They typically take a trip there to visit family.
This year’s trip was different – a novel coronavirus had begun marching across America. Debi doubted whether the virus that causes COVID-19 would become a public health crisis, let alone affect her.
After visiting Florida, Debi and her husband visited Montgomery County, Pa., to see their son. Being a doctor, he advised his parents not to stay in Pennsylvania too long because of public health concerns.
Back home, she continued her normal tasks, including trips to the grocery store and CVS.
She typically doesn’t get sick, she said, but on March 19, the 72-year-old Avalon resident endured a low-grade fever around 100.2, and became worried about her situation. She called her doctor, who advised her to take her temperature regularly.
“I had a fever every single day,” she said, “and I started feeling really rotten. My joints hurt, I had terrible headaches, but never any chest problems at all, so I thought maybe this is just the flu.”
Her symptoms worsened to a point that her doctor suggested getting tested for the coronavirus. She was directed to a MedExpress facility in Vineland March 26, where she waited in her car for over four hours to see if she contracted a disease that was beginning to cripple America’s economy and kill thousands of people. They told her they’d have the results within one week, but that wasn’t early enough.
By March 30, and at home awaiting test results, Debi had difficulty breathing. She called her son and family physician, who agreed she should check herself into Cape Regional Medical Center.
She was admitted, and the facility’s staff examined her for other illnesses, all while being cautious of a potential case of the virus.
She describes her stay there as “lonely,” isolated in a room while being administered oxygen and IV fluids. The team assigned to her took extra precautions by using extra PPE.
Extra precautions were even taken for meals.
“People really didn’t want to be in the room with me,” she said. “They didn’t say that, but you could feel it. The food was served on different dishes in isolation than they are in other places because of the disposal issue.”
“It’s just a lonely experience,” she added, “and not because of anything they (staff) did. My husband couldn’t come see me. I spent most of my days on the phone talking to people.”
Eventually, on April 1, Debi was given the choice of staying in the facility or returning home, where her husband was self-quarantined, cleaning their home thoroughly and relying on neighbors to bring essentials to the front door.
It was once she was given the choice to leave that she learned her test results – she had the coronavirus.
Feeling well enough April 1, Debi opted to be reunited with her husband. The other option would have left her in a COVID-19-specific unit.
She’s symptom-free, as of May 5. It’s been a gradual recovery, but her condition’s improved weekly.
Overall, she’s thankful for her family who called during the two days she was isolated at Cape Regional.
She’s especially thankful for the team that took care of her.
“I think they were very good about checking in with me,” Debi said. “The nurses were amazing. The infectious disease doctor was great.”
After a month’s recovery, she’s doing what daily activities she can. She’s visiting local grocery stores and walking to the Eighth Street Jetty.
Avalon reopened their beaches May 8, something Debi was looking forward to. She’s doing everything she loves while being extra cautious about what she touches.
Though she says she’s an overall healthy person, she remains “mind-boggled” about not joining 8,244 other New Jerseyans who have died from the virus’s complications, as of May 5.
“I certainly feel blessed,” she said.
To contact Eric Conklin, email econklin@cmcherald.com.

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