Manchester mother and recovered coronavirus victim Misty Carter-Ferguson urges the public to get tested to avoid accidentally spreading the virus.
“People that feel sick need to get tested. The virus is so different in people. I had no idea that we were sick until it hit us really bad,” Ferguson said.
“If you start to get sick, go get tested. Think of others, not yourself. Some people are over it in a couple of days. Others, it could be really bad.
“I would hate to be the one who spread it unknowingly because I thought I had a cold, and they pass away because I didn’t know.
“I did not know I had COVID until it was too late,” she said.
The family began to feel ill in mid-July. The symptoms started with a headache.
“It all started July 19. I woke up with a horrible headache,” Ferguson said. “I thought it was maybe a migraine.”
There were no fever or any other symptoms. But much worse was on its way.
At the same time, Ferguson’s 7-year-old boy had mild cold symptoms — a cough and mild runny nose. The condition looked to be nothing more than too much time outside, and some mild dehydration.
Later that evening, Misty’s husband Kirk started having what appeared to be a stomach bug or food poisoning.
“We just went on about our normal day. There was nothing alarming happening that said, hey, you have COVID,” Ferguson said.
The next day, Ferguson’s headache was still there, but no other symptoms had appeared. The 7-year-old was still coughing and sneezing, but Kirk had developed fatigue.
“We weren’t alarmed. July 21, we woke up thinking it was cold. My 12-year-old had volleyball practice. She had a small headache, but took some Tylenol and went to practice.”
After practice, the 12-year-old was fine, until about 5 p.m. when the fever appeared.
Within 30 minutes, the girl’s temperature rose from 101 to 104.7. Ferguson rushed the girl to the emergency room.
“When we got there, her heart rate was 172 (beats per minute) and her temperature with ice being on her and taking Tylenol was still 104,” Ferguson said.
By then, the girl was in serious stomach pain. She was tested for COVID-19 and strep and did an EKG and chest X-ray.
The doctors felt that the temperature caused the excessive heart rate.
Ferguson contacted the volleyball coach who warned the team of a possible contact with the virus. As a precaution, practice was suspended for two weeks.
During that time, Ferguson’s symptoms worsened and got to the point she thought she was going to die.
“I felt really, really tired. I had a horrible headache, I started coughing...had fever, chest tightness,” she said.
Household chores resulted in quickly becoming out of breath. Nausea kept her from eating much. Gone was her sense of smell and taste; only later did they return, but were tainting everything with putrid burnt-oatmeal smell and making food taste rotten.
Of the five members of the household, only Ferguson’s 16-year-old son did not test positive and spent the month in the family camper. While the others’ symptoms were mild and recovery came pretty quickly, Ferguson’s condition worsened.
The children were given vitamins D and C, a baby aspirin and zinc, which helped. Ferguson has sleep apnea, an underlying condition that she feels worsened the condition.
“Everybody else had gotten better by (July 25). But at this point, I was super dizzy, I lost my sense of smell. My appetite had completely vanished.”
The 12-year-old had good days and bad.
Ferguson could barely stand by July 27. Her uncontrollable cough and lethargy forced her to go to the hospital. At the Murfreesboro ER, she chose, COVID patients were left untreated in a hallway for hours. When treated, Ferguson recalls, the nurses were indifferent and rude. Ferguson asks for a pillow to hold to her chest for some relief strains of her racking cough, yet the nurse refused, citing concern about spreading germs. Asking, crying for some comfort, Ferguson was literally thrown a pillow.
“My chest was very tight, burning to breathe.”
Fortunately, Ferguson’s lungs had not developed pneumonia. She was given an IV and sent home.
“I just couldn’t breathe,” she recalls.” Nothing I took for coughing helped. A pharmacy batch of cough medicine with codeine was the only remedy they even helped, if only a little.
None of the symptoms eased up until early August, when the lingering headache subsided on Aug. 11.
“Everybody else only had symptoms for a few days,” she said.
For Ferguson, headaches that last all day come and go. She said that’s a common occurrence with COVID survivors.