Battling COVID-19 from home to ER to hospital and backwebmaster August 14, 2020 0 COMMENTS
By Gail M. Williams
Muleshoe Journal Correspondent
Vickie Burch, 69, a Muleshoe High School English teacher who lives four miles from Lazbuddie, has no idea how or where she contracted the coronavirus. But she was already pretty sick when she called Dr. Bruce Purdy on June 15, a day after the symptoms began.
He arranged for her to come to Muleshoe Area Medical Center to be tested.
“They did the swab outside the emergency room,” she said. “It was very uncomfortable, it hurt. But I wanted to know. I had chills, fever, a headache and shortness of breath that progressed to more.”
After receiving a positive test result, Burch tried to beat the virus at home for eight days.
“I was getting sicker,” she said. “I had pneumonia, I was dehydrated, I was coughing, I was very, very fatigued.”
On the ninth day, Burch’s husband drove her to the emergency room at MAMC, where the staff did blood work and chest X-rays showing pneumonia.
“MAMC was well prepared with a section for COVID patients and a trained staff,” Burch said. “They began IV fluids and comforting care.”
MAMC sent Burch to Lubbock UMC by ambulance, under an oxygen tent.
“I don’t think anyone positive with COVID can just go to Lubbock and hope to get in,” she said. “Even with Muleshoe’s blood work and X-rays, they kept me in an evaluation room for two hours before admitting me.”
Once she was admitted, Burch received antibiotics and steroids through an IV, as well as cough medicine.
“I was on oxygen for a day and a half. Just in my nose, not on a ventilator, thank goodness,” Burch said.
A large air duct connected to a purifier circulated the air in the hospital room. Hospital personnel were limited to a physician and two nurses on different shifts, who didn’t come in very often. To further limit their exposure, they wore disposable HAZMAT clothing, which they discarded before they left the room.
“I never saw a cleaning person. They probably didn’t do the room until after I left,” Burch said.
Burch understood the reason for the precautions and didn’t really feel isolated.
“I was so tired with this virus, that you do sleep when you can,” she said. “I was uncomfortable, miserable and so tired when I came in. I had my cell phone, and people were checking on me.”
Part of the reason for Burch’s dehydration was severe diarrhea, one of her symptoms when she was admitted. The Lubbock doctor told her diarrhea is a symptom for about 30 percent of COVID patients.
“I could not stay home and continue to lose body fluids,” she said.
On the 12th day of the coronavirus, Burch went home armed with steroids and blood thinner to prevent blood clotting which can occur with COVID patients. Despite continuing symptoms of headache, cough, fatigue and sweats that arose one after another, she was able to manage on her own.
“I never smoked, and I’m not prone to lung problems, but I was short of breath throughout,” she said. “Lots of people’s symptoms are very different from mine.”
Now, more than two months after symptoms started, Burch said she is well over the disease and feeling great. The Texas Department of State Health has released her from quarantine.
At the time symptoms began, Burch’s grandson was staying with her and her husband.
“I was disinfecting everything I touched in the house, and, no, they didn’t get it,” she said.
Burch was advised that it is really unknown how long antigens produced by the virus last and whether or not she would be immune, so she is wearing a mask now.
“I wasn’t very good about wearing a mask before,” she said.
Burch expects to return to teaching Senior English at MHS this fall.
“I’ll wear a mask out in the hall,” she said. “I’ll protect myself as much as I can, and I know the school is going to do all they can to keep us all safe. I haven’t been at Muleshoe the whole time, but I’ve taught for 22 years. I love it.”