‘I had to relearn to walk. I was so weak’: Austintown woman documents COVID-19 journey

Coronavirus

"Don't take anything for granted. Things could change in an instant."

Maureen Long, Austintown, coronavirus

WKBN

Austintown’s Maureen Long was released from St. Elizabeth’s in Youngstown after fighting COVID-19 for two weeks.

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It’s believed she contracted the virus at a bridal shower before any of Governor Mike DeWine’s orders were issued.

She was too weak to talk about what happened, so she sent us an email instead:

“Hi Stan,

My condition is still pretty weak but I am recovering. I just wanted you to have some before and after coronavirus views of my life!

Five daughters, 11 grandchildren, retired as a supervisor at MCJFS in September 2017 to help take care of my mother. After my mother passed in March 2018, I took a bookkeeping job with a small business for a couple of hours a day, then enjoyed going to the gym three times a week and loved to walk on the bike trail.

Thursday nights have always been date night for my husband and myself since our kids were little. Always had our five daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren over every Sunday for dinner so they remained close.

On March 7, my nine brothers and sisters and I hosted a bridal shower for my niece. Guests included ones from North Carolina, Columbus, Cleveland and Indiana.

Within three days, I got a text on my family group text asking if anyone else is sick with terrible body aches and sore eyes. Sometimes there was a fever, other times not. It appeared most of us were experiencing some form of this. Also, some of my own daughters that attended were having symptoms. While most went away after a few days, some seemed to worsen and went into the chest area.

On Saturday, March 14, I was running a fever, had terrible body aches and began a cough. I went to the Austintown ER and was tested for influenza A and B, given antibiotics and because they couldn’t get my fever down and also because I told him about the shower and the number of people that fell ill, the doctor decided to do a coronavirus test. I was sent home.

On March 16, my sister was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. On March 16, my brother-in-law was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia.

On March 19, my cough and aches worsened, along with my fever. My doctor called in and ordered another chest x-ray. As soon as we pulled in the driveway from getting the chest x-ray, my doctor called and told me to go immediately to ER, that he wanted to admit me.

The influenza A and B results were negative and the COVID-19 test still showed in Utah, no results yet. I was admitted and immediately put on a ventilator. Because of the outbreak, my husband was not permitted into the ER with me.

It’s at this point that things are a blur for me and I don’t remember much. When I would wake up, I worried constantly about my husband and children, grandchildren and if they were OK. I remembered one nurse calling my husband for me (the first I had heard his voice since admission) and holding the phone to my ear so I could hear his voice.

My daughters had organized calling the nurse every three hours for a status update for my husband and family, and they would come in to tell me they called. I wasn’t able to talk.

After 12 days, the vent was removed and I was moved out of the ICU. My coronavirus test came back positive.

Hearing my husband and children’s voices was the best experience of my life. I came home exactly 14 days after I was admitted. The best sight I saw was that of my husband standing next to the car door when they wheeled me down to go home. We both cried.

Coming down our street, our daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, neighbors, family and friends made signs and lined our street and clapped to welcome me home. The outpouring of love and support of our family, friends and the community is what has sustained this family through this terrible crisis.

I am slowly recouping now under quarantine with my husband at home. I had to relearn to walk. I was so weak, I couldn’t even hold my phone. But each day brings more strength and resolve.

Lessons learned: Don’t take anything for granted. Things could change in an instant. My husband and I found that all the little things in life are so unimportant. Family and health are the only things to hold onto.

I want to commend the doctors and nursing staff from St. E’s. Their care was tremendous.

Also, as a footnote, my sister and brother-in-law had been discharged while I was under a vent and are recovering under quarantine at their homes.”

Two of Long’s daughters talked to us about their mom’s recovery and how their family is doing now.

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