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Taking coronavirus seriously: Survivor shares her tale of anguish

File photo: Members of staff wearing Personal Protective Equipment PPE care for a patient with coronavirus in the intensive care unit at the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, England, Tuesday May 5, 2020. (Neil Hall/Pool via AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — What’s it like to be a coronavirus survivor? How does it feel to spend three weeks in a hospital ICU bed on a ventilator, inches from death?

Survivor Cass Ho of Midway, Utah, joined Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to share her hellish ride on the coronavirus coaster. She has been out of the hospital for about 2 1/2 weeks now.

Kidneys failing

“I’m considered to be a walking miracle. I have really been an exception to the rule. I can’t tell you how grateful I am,” Ho said. 

She said after five days of flu-like symptoms, she decide to go to the hospital where her husband would drop her off; she would be treated and receive the appropriate meds, then her husband would pick her up — or so she thought.

Instead, she got an ambulance ride to Utah Valley Hospital in Provo. Her kidneys were failing because she said she had nothing to eat or drink for five days.

“Nothing tastes the same or smells the same. The water tasted so funny,” she said.

COVID-19 patients lose their ability to smell or taste, said Dr. Nicholas Rowan, an assistant professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Waiting for the ICU

“My oxygen levels were very, very low. I was dehydrated,” Ho said. “They started to look for ICU bed for me, but they didn’t have any.

“I think I waited two or three days for a bed in the ICU. There was a lot cloudiness, fogginess. I don’t really remember a lot of things. They had me on a lot of drugs. I was not on one, but  three, IVs,” she said.

The hospital called in the middle of the night to tell her husband that she was seriously ill. She was placed on a ventilator for three days, she said.

“I started to come back,” Ho said, “but for three days, it was touch and go. I only had flashes of what was going on.”

She said because she is claustrophobic her hands were tied to her hospital bed.

“I remember the doctor saying to me, ‘You are a very sick person. You have to just be patient with us and let us try and help you through this,'” Ho said.

A coronavirus survivor

“You walk into the grocery store now, and you’re just getting out of quarantine at this point. In your letter to the editor, you look around and nobody is wearing a mask. They don’t understand what you just went through, clawing and fighting your way from death’s doorstep,” Debbie said.

“I had been in this alternate universe close to death, and then I come out . . . I am expecting everyone to be extremely careful and just follow the rules. When I walked into the grocery store, and everyone was, like I say in the letter, business as usual. I was taken so aback,” she said.

Ho said she was about to leave the store when she realized she didn’t have to worry about becoming infected with COVID-19.

The coronavirus survivor said she was angry and confused about the lack of personal protection against the virus she had witnessed in the grocery store. She decided then to write a letter to editor of the Wasatch Wave.

“I decided in my small community that maybe I could do something to make a difference,” she said.

 

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, a.s well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States