My COVID-19 Survival Story: Laura Rivera

May 04,2020

On Friday, March 28 my husband woke up and told me he was not feeling well and that maybe I should pack some things and go to my mom’s house. I started packing to head out when I decided to call my pulmonary hypertension specialist and tell her what was going on with my husband. She told me that since we had not been practicing social distancing at home chances were that if he contracted COVID-19, I probably had it too. It would not help my anxiety if I left my husband alone to fend for himself.

I took care of him while trying to maintain my distance and at the same time keep everything disinfected for myself and my father-in-law who also lives with us. I tried to get him tested but it wasn’t possible. In New York there weren’t enough tests to go around. To date, there still aren’t enough tests available.

Over the weekend I experienced a sore throat and a headache that would not go away no matter what I took. I chalked it up to being stressed and anxious. Monday, March 30 I woke up and felt off. I had chills, but no fever, and I was exhausted. I slept almost all day and I knew I was sick with this virus. I called my doctor and told him my symptoms. Since I didn’t have a fever, he advised me to just monitor myself at home. The following day I awoke with a low-grade fever. I immediately called my doctor, and he told me to head to the emergency room.

Once at the ER, they found that all my vital signs were good. They made me walk in place to see if my oxygen dropped and it did, but just a little. They did a chest x-ray and called my doctor to inform him that I was being released without being tested. I could hear him screaming at the attending doctor saying that I needed to be tested because of my severe pulmonary hypertension, severe asthma, and heart condition.

The only way someone could be tested is if they were first responders, healthcare workers, have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, or if you were being admitted. My doctor told them to admit me, but as I was about to leave, they got the results of my chest x-ray, and saw that I had viral pneumonia, which is symptomatic of COVID-19. At that point, they tested me and admitted me. I was put in my own room until the results came in the next day.

When the nurse told me I was positive for COVID-19 I had a panic attack. Up until then I was not scared or worried, but once I got confirmation, I panicked. But only for a few minutes. They immediately started me on a regimen of Plaquenil and Doxycycline and transferred me to a COVID-19 floor. I was in the hospital for a total of five days. I was lucky because my symptoms weren’t severe. I had a low-grade fever, a cough here and there, a headache, severe body aches, and I did lose my sense of smell and taste. I still don’t have those back yet.
My PH doctor said that I probably won’t get sick again with this at least not for a while. You hear in the news about all these people who have died from COVID-19 and I am filled with gratitude because it could have been bad for me. What did I do differently that saved me? I don’t have an answer for that, but I believe my faith helped me keep my hopes up. I don’t think I have ever prayed as much as I have prayed these last couple of months, and I am grateful to be one of the lucky ones who lived to share their story.

See Team PHenomenal Hope’s COVID-19 resources here.

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