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COVID-19 Survivor, Kashima Thomas, PCCC student talks with Visions

"It started with the loss of my appetite and then a very dry cough. Soon I had a horrible headache that transitioned to me being unable to move. Every movement was followed by a cough. I had to remain in darkness because my eyes were sensitive. I didn’t want to believe that I could have it. Family members had suggested maybe it was pneumonia or bronchitis, but it wasn’t that. I could not breathe, having a conversation took every breath that I had. After three steps, I was immediately out of breath. In just six days, I could not go to the bathroom due to my body pain. I had to stay in one position to avoid coughing and loss of breath. I called a hotline, and wasn’t able to speak to anyone. I was dehydrated and haven’t eaten in days. My mother was worried and begged me to go to the hospital. On the 8th day, I couldn’t control my bowels and submitted to the idea of going to the hospital. I called the ambulance and I remember trying to go up the stairs to go outside and losing my oxygen. As soon as I opened the door, the cold air hit my face and I passed out. When I got to the hospital, I saw people crying and anxious.”

Three weeks ago, Passaic County Community College Radiography Major, Kashima Thomas, 23, was released from St. Joseph Medical Center as a survivor of COVID-19.

Thomas was shocked by the idea of contracting the virus as she had not been outside since Spring break was initiated. For days, Thomas observed the deterioration of her health and eventually went to the hospital.

Once in the hospital, Thomas shared that at first she did not have enough oxygen to say her own name. When asked to stand by her Doctor, she had a dangerous cough and was rushed to the ICU.

While in ICU, Thomas began to have increased anxiety which put more strain on her breathing. This resulted in her being sedated.

Thomas was in the ICU and for four days and had to be fed through a feeding tube. In her time in the ICU, she had excrements of blood and the vessels in her eyes had burst.

Just 25ft away from her, Thomas had seen a patient take his last breath and pass away due to the virus.

Thomas’ was not able to speak to her family for days, and when she had her mother was planning her funeral over the phone.

“I had one bad experience with a nurse where she ripped the bandaid off my arm and it took off my skin,” said Thomas.

After being in the ICU, Thomas was moved to the Children's unit. There she had a more pleasant experience, where nurses were like family.

When finally being able to move, the nurses clapped for Thomas and celebrated her health's improvement.

Days after, Thomas was better and released.

For more insight, Passaic County Community College Nursing Program Professor, Marissa Cruise, was invited to have a conversation with Kashima. Cruise had shared that the virus will change how the medical fields operate where new protocols and training will take place. Originally there are preventative trainings that take place for situations as this, but changes regarding preparation will happen.

Thomas had shared that she understood the stress that nurses were facing and was very patient with how they worked.

Presently, Thomas is doing well and now is trying to catch up with all the work she had missed for the semester.

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