Joann Niemeier of Beatrice is at home with her husband. A couple of weeks ago she wasn’t sure she would ever be able to say that again.
Joann spent 12 days in the Beatrice Community Hospital COVID Unit and at one point thought it was time to say goodbye to family and friends.
“I can remember thinking I’m not going to make it,” she said.
Fortunately, Joann says, thanks to the medical care she received, family members’ prayers and the supportive words of hospital staff she awoke at about 2 a.m. on Nov. 23 and knew she was doing better.
“I just knew,” she said. “My mind was clearer and I felt stronger. I want everyone to know that we had wonderful care (at BCH). Excellent nurses. It boggles my mind how they can do everything with all the extra protective attire they’re wearing. And even the housekeeping staff had words of encouragement. I want people to know what heroes and angels these frontline workers are.”
Now recovering at home, Joann, 78, believes she became infected with COVID while doing an errand in town even though she was wearing a mask and those she encountered were wearing masks too. By the time she was notified that she may have been exposed, she had already cooked lunch for her husband and sons, who also became infected with COVID.
Her symptoms started with a sore throat and body aches and progressed to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and severe fatigue, loss of taste and smell, and brain fog. Her family who was checking on her insisted she see a doctor who admitted her to the hospital.
Joann struggles to explain how tired and weak she felt.
“It was just monumental,” she says. “I don’t know how to explain it. It was just monumental to go to the bathroom and back to bed. Sometimes I was so weak I couldn’t even pick up my phone.”
Joann’s husband, LaVern, who spent 13 days in the hospital is also home now, with supplemental oxygen. Their sons were able to stay out of the hospital and recover at home.
Joann says she feels guilty unknowingly infecting her family. She believed she was taking the right precautions and, yet, infected herself and her family.
“COVID is real,” she said. “I learned that the hard way.”