Native Wetzel Countian Healthcare Worker Shares Her Story of Being a COVID-19 Patient In NYC
My name is Katie Moore. I was born and raised in Paden City, WV. I’m a 2007 graduate of Magnolia High School and a 2013 Graduate of Marshall University.
I have lived in NYC for the past five years and currently work at one of the top hospitals systems in Manhattan, NYC.
On April 3, I came down with COVID-19 Symptoms and was tested positive. I have since recovered, and am doing okay.
My parents still live in Paden City, and I normally would come home every few months to visit them. I have not been home since Thanksgiving. I wanted to come home this spring- but due to the pandemic, I remained put. I (coming from the Hotspot of the US) felt it was not safe to come home at this time, and risk spreading this infection not only to my older parents but the rest of the community. I am not sure when I will be able to see them again. I’m hoping this September.
When I first moved to New York City, it was very hard for me to adjust to the fast pace lifestyle. For the most part, the people of New York City are not mean like everyone would think. Yes, there are some bad apples, but for the majority of the time, we/they are just hard working people trying to get through life. If you stop to ask for directions, or ask for help, they will be more than happy to help, but then quickly run away afterwards to try and stay on time.
I had to learn the subway system very quickly, as I take it to work, or any other place I want go.
It takes me about an hour and several subway trains to get from my apartment in the borough of Queens, NY to get to Manhattan for work. I miss the days when I could get in my car and drive anywhere I wanted. In NYC, the traffic and parking is impossible.
I refused to drive up here, but the moment I get home I drive everywhere.
Going to the grocery store and post office is even worse. I have SEVERE Wal-Mart shopping withdrawals; every time I come home I have to go to Wal-Mart. There are no Wal-Mart’s or big grocery stores in the city, and if you need groceries you quickly learn you only buy what you can carry home in bags. Living in New York City, compared to life back home, is like living in a complete different world. They call it the concrete jungle for a reason.
So many times, I see things and I shake my head and say, “Well I wouldn’t see that back home.” When I tell my adventures to friends or family, they say to me, “Wow, I don’t know how you do it. I could never live up there.” And my response is always the same. I laugh and say, “I don’t know how I do it either, but I do.”
Every time I come home from NYC, there is a list of foods I HAVE to eat when I come back: Coleman Fish, Fudge from Cabala’s, PJ’s Pizza, and my mother’s home cooking. I’m not joking when I say there has been a time or two we picked up a PJ’s pizza on our way home from the airport. Here I am, in the place world famous for New York Style pizza, and this girl just wants to come home and have some PJ’s Pizza.
Since the Pandemic has started some things drastically changed, but not necessarily all bad. Sure there were some pretty scary moments, but for the majority of it, I noticed the good out of all of it. It blew my mind to see how New Yorkers came together to hunker down and fight this thing. Being in lockdown has not been easy. I was blessed I still had a job and income since I worked in healthcare and was essential. Sure I could get out of my apartment every day, but it came with a cost of being exposed to the virus, and not knowing how it would affect my health once catching it. Every day before I leave my house, I put on my mask and try not to touch ANYTHING unless absolutely necessary.
Weeks leading up to the city’s lockdown you noticed a big difference in the amount of people out; the subway trains and streets were nearly bare. For the city that never sleeps, it was a ghost town; I never imagined I would see anything like this in my lifetime. The city is so crowded normally, that you barely have room to move with so many people around you. The subway trains that used to be packed like sardines, now only have a few riders in the cars. The groceries store shelves were bare, and people were panic buying large amounts of everything. It honestly made you feel like this was the apocalypse. It was very eerie feeling. Thankfully I was prepared and made sure weeks in advance before any talk of a possible lockdown. I stocked up on food, over the counter medicine, water, and other necessities. I knew that for me it wasn’t a matter of IF I get COVID-19, it was when. I was in healthcare, it was inevitable, and knew at some point I would be inside for a little while.
In the recent weeks, the NY State Governor made it illegal to be in ANY public place without a face mask or face covering. You would be fined if you didn’t have one. People will give you sideways glances if you’re out and about without one. It’s so very odd. I wear a mask practically all day, the second I leave my house, the entire time I’m at work, and back home. People joke and say, you know how most women, after a long day at work the first thing they take off when they get home is their bra. Well first thing I take off when I get home is my mask.
I really feel for all the nurses and doctor who wear all the PPE and masks. The equipment protects us, but they also are hard to breathe in. You’re not getting oxygen properly wearing a mask all day. We are not eating or drinking much, so we are running around doing long hours pretty much dehydrated. It’s sad but true that we sacrifice our health, to take care of yours.
My best friend from back home posted on Facebook how people back home (in West Virginia) gave her dirty looks because she wanted to protect herself and her family from the Virus and wore a mask to the grocery store. I responded back saying, “WEAR IT LOUD, WEAR IT PROUD.” and posted multiple pictures of me wearing mine daily to reduce the stigma. It has become a new norm, and you get frowned upon if you DON’T wear one up here right now. After this is over, I plan on keeping my homemade masks to wear in the future during flu season and winter. You can never be too cautious anymore.
For about a month now, every day at 7 p.m. for two minutes, all over New York City, residents clap for healthcare workers. It’s truly a heartwarming experience, especially for me being that I’m in healthcare, knowing that part of the clapping is for me. But truly, it is for all of us sticking together through this tough time. It feels like the residents of New York City are cheerleaders cheering us on, to keep going, to keep pushing through, and we will, no doubt about that.
There are posters all over the city for healthcare workers and frontline responders and other essential workers thanking us for our service. You get the feeling of comradely with your fellow citizen, and pride for your country. I compare it to same feeling we had right after the 9/11 attacks, once again knowing we where all in this together.
I love that strangers on the street, and anywhere you go, are telling each other to “Be Safe.” Just months ago, we where a culture that ignored each other, and didn’t speak to one another. The warmth I get from hearing, “Be Safe” is exactly, how around here, you say Hi, and wave at strangers just because it is the polite thing to do. In NYC that kind of thing is unheard of, I hope even long after the virus is gone, everyone all over the country still continues to spread that same love and generosity for strangers, and tell one another, “Be safe.”
When you need to get groceries or enter any other store, you have to wait in line. Some places only let in ten people at a time. And outside of the store there are strips of tape 6 feet apart that patrons must stand on in order to maintain social distancing. Restaurants are open, but most places, you knock on the door, someone comes out and takes your order and you wait for your food outside, or call in and pick up. The police are out in full force in their squad cars and in the subways to make sure people maintain social distancing. If not the police can give you a fine.
When I first started to have symptoms from COVID-19, it felt as if I was just having a head cold. My first few days I had headaches, sinus congestion, and sore throat and fatigue. A few days later the symptoms got worse and progressed into fevers, chills, body aches and feeling flushed, and even worsening congestion and migraine like headaches. I lost my smell and taste as well. At first it was amusing and exciting experiencing, the loss of sensation. I must have spent several hours smelling everything: candles, perfumes, and same with food. It was the oddest thing to eat but have no taste, and in your mind you remember what this food is suppose to taste like. The texture was there, but the taste was just completely gone. I was very scared that my smell or taste would not come back. It made you reflect on all the little things you take for granted, even if it’s tasting your favorite food, or smelling your favorite scent.
A few days in the middle of recovery I woke up with matted and blood shot eyes, and back aches from my kidneys working hard to filler this virus out of me. There were days I had to force myself to eat because I had no appetite, but continued to drink litters of water daily. The fever subsided after a few days but the migraine like headaches were daily. After one week my taste came back, but it took three weeks for my sense of smell come back, but not fully.
I was isolated in my apartment for a total of 12 days before I was cleared to return to work. And ironically enough, I was quarantined at home on my birthday recovering from the virus. I just shake my head and laugh. I’ve had a lot of silly things happen in my life, and of course I’d be locked in my apartment during a worldwide pandemic and recovering from a virus on my birthday, and the best part is I couldn’t even smell or taste my birthday cake, even if I had one. I laughingly tell my mother, I refuse to accept I turned another year older, it’s per law of Quarantine Birthdays that you get one additional year at your current age, so as far as I’m concerned I’m still 30. It did suck being alone on my birthday. I had no cake, no candles, no real celebration, I did make a lot of phone calls to friends and family and that made it special.
As far as being concerned about re-infection, all I have to say is, I can’t live my life in fear of this thing forever. Yes, I beat it once and might possibly have some Anti-bodies to it but that doesn’t help much if I get re-infected with one of the other mutated strains of COVID-19. All I can do at this point is to keep doing what I’m doing, maintaining social distancing, and continuing to practice infection control and cross contamination techniques. As healthcare workers we are trained to know sterile technique, so as far as maintaining proper hygiene, the medical workers where ahead of the game. For anyone interested to learn more about infection control techniques that we use, I would say research it on the internet. It will help you in the future for any type of illness. I will be doing my Anti-body blood test in the next week or so, and if eligible I will be donating some blood plasma so that they can use my donation for research to create a future vaccine, or blood transfusions.
I know as of just a few days ago some states have been opening back up for business, but in the meantime I’ll still be up here in New York fighting the good fight, and won’t be back home until the travel restrictions have been lifted and I know this virus is pretty much gone. I miss my parents terribly, but I can’t risk bringing it back home from NYC. I don’t know when the big apple will begin to open back up. We are still fighting pretty hard, and our infection curve is on the decline, but we are still not anywhere close to being out of the woods yet. I am so very grateful for all the praise and considered “Brave and Hero,” I’m just doing what the good Lord called me to do, and taking care of anyone who needs it. I know the day is coming when I can hug my parents again, but until then, I’ll see you soon Wetzel County; I know a PJ’s Pizza is waiting for me when I get home.