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A 48-year-old woman from a small town in Ohio is recovering in quarantine after a scary diagnosis of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. She's only the second known victim in Summit County.
After logging on to Facebook over the weekend and seeing people question how "real" the pandemic is, Amy Driscoll had enough. She finally decided to tell her community just how "real" it can be by sharing her experience with the disease.
"For all the non believers and those who are not taking this seriously, if you need [to] KNOW someone who has been diagnosed with the COVID-19, well if you are reading this you know me," Amy Driscoll began her Facebook post, which has gone viral.
Driscoll told BuzzFeed News she hopes her experience serves as a sobering wake-up call for people who don't think the virus can affect them. She said her symptoms dramatically escalated and sent her to the hospital in the middle of the night last week.
"It was so surreal," she said. "I was really sick and I knew something was wrong."
Driscoll, née Brock, said she felt completely "fine" on Wednesday as she headed in to work. Within hours, she was lethargic, ran a fever, and had difficulty breathing.
In her Facebook post, she wrote that she had woken up in the middle of the night to her heart racing; her "chest felt tight" when she coughed, she wrote. She recounted similar symptoms to BuzzFeed News and added that she had even joked with her colleague at work that she had been affected by the pandemic earlier in the day.
"She laughed and said, 'Oh, it’s probably COVID-19,' and I thought, 'That’s funny.' We were joking, but in retrospect it was not a funny joke," Driscoll said.
After consulting with her cousin who's a nurse, Driscoll made the rapid decision to leave her family at home and drive herself to the emergency room at 4:30 a.m. Thursday.
She was met with medical personnel, who had all of their protective gear on and immediately tested her and admitted her to a quarantine room. She would spend the next few days there in complete isolation.
"Everyone that comes in is completely gowned — head-to-toe covered — that was really weird," said Driscoll. "I was very isolated. ... You're just trying to go through everything on your own."
According to Driscoll, she received pain medication for her headache and antibiotics in case her infection turned out to be bacterial. She didn't receive her official positive diagnosis of COVID-19 until close to midnight on Friday.
Fortunately, by then, she said she had already started to feel better.
"The next day [on Saturday] the doctors came in and said, 'We're going to send you home. But don't stop anywhere, go straight home. Be quarantined until we tell you when you're not,'" she recounted.
Driscoll said she was just happy to be in recovery and back with her family — until she logged on to Facebook. She saw many of her Facebook friends posting about not believing in the severity of the pandemic and not understanding why strict restrictions were being imposed on them.
"I saw a lot of postings of how people couldn’t believe we were going through all these restrictions. People were like, 'Let’s get together and have a corona party,'" she said.
"I was trying to ignore it, but then a friend from high school had posted, 'I don’t know anyone with COVID-19. Is it real? I can’t believe we’re going through all of this.'"
The post struck a nerve for Driscoll.
"I am the face of this infection. It is brutal and I'm a healthy 48 year old with no underlying conditions," she wrote in her viral post. "I'm not 100% better but I'm home resting. Please take this seriously. People you love, their lives may depend on it."
Driscoll told BuzzFeed News she's still "weak" with limited abilities to move around her house, but she is "healing." After her Facebook post went viral, she was also uplifted by all the support she's received from her local community.
"Quarantine is not fun, but I would much rather be in quarantine and know I’m not exposing anyone else to this — and I’ll take that," she added.