With all of the crazy coronavirus-related news, it’s easy to overlook all of the hopeful COVID-19 survivor stories. But Dana Mancini has shared her experience with Amelia Peck. Read on for her remarkable journey.
Stories of Hope and a COVID-19 Survivor
Information and emotions about COVID-19 have come in waves. We experience fear, uncertainty, hope, stress, and more throughout the week and possibly all in one day. While I continued to hear information and staggering numbers of new cases and death totals, in different circles of networking I began to see people posting stories of their recovery from coronavirus.
COVID-19 survivors beginning to work out again, being able to hug their kids again, and other moments that inspired hope inspired me to reach out to some of these individuals to hear their stories. With their fabulous responses, we are excited to share this series with you of those who have gone through the unknown and come out on the other side to share their stories of hope and endurance.
Meet Dana Mancini, a COVID-19 Survivor
Dana Mancini is a 43-year-old social worker by day and an online health and fitness coach on the side. She and her husband Dan have two Vizsla dogs named Teaka and Loki and live in South Wales, New York. As a social worker for the Central New York Psychiatric Center Dana provides mental health services to the inmate population. On March 16, both Dana and her husband, who is a corrections officer in the same facility, were declared essential workers.
Working with her husband in the same facility who is a corrections officer, Dana was declared an essential worker on March 16. They soon learned there were two positive cases in the jail on March 22 via Facebook, not her employers.
What Does COVID-19 Feel Like?
Can you describe when your first felt symptoms and then when you realized what you were feeling was COVID-19?
On March 29, my husband and I both coughed a dry cough a few times throughout the day and we actually joked that we had COVID because we didn’t feel sick and the cough was so random and not consistent. As the day progressed I felt very anxious and irritable which is not typical for me. That night when I was sleeping I felt cold where I normally run hot at night.
I remember pulling our second comforter on me, and I also felt like I could not get comfortable, my neck and back were very achy. I also had a headache. That morning, I had a doctor’s appointment for my back, and when I woke up, just for the heck of it I took my temperature. I knew because of where I was working and the situation the jail was in, I had the potential to get the virus. That morning my temp was 100.4. I canceled my back doctor’s appointment and called my primary doctor.
Testing and Quarantine
Were you tested for COVID-19? Or were you advised to quarantine without formal testing, and why?
My doctor had learned several inmates in our jail had tested positive, and over 130 staff were out on quarantine. She also knew we were working without PPE (personal protective equipment), so she contacted the health department to schedule tests for us. They advised me to isolate from my husband, so I slept upstairs and used a different bathroom that day and night. But during the night on the 31st, my husband came down with chills and a fever. We were able to go together to get tested on April 1, at the drive-through site in Amherst, NY.
News Travels Fast
We had no positive cases in the town of Wales the day we got tested. That next morning my mom called me to tell me the news reported their first positive case in Wales and a few minutes later I was called by the health department and told I was positive. It was funny that the news knew before me.
My husband’s test results never came back that day but that night the news reported the second case in Wales so we presumed it was my husband Dan, and it was. The next day he got his call. I joke with him that I’ll always be number 1 and he’ll always be number 2. To date, we are the only 2 cases in Wales.
A few days later the Eerie County Health Department issued me an Order of Isolation stating that I could not leave my house and was not to have anyone in my house. It was an interesting document. You had the right to contest it as well which I found interesting.
The health department would call us, at first, two times a day to monitor our symptoms. Then it dwindled to one time a day, then on day nine they completely cut us loose without even releasing us and it was up to me to print out a form on their website lifting my isolation order on April 15. It seems they became overwhelmed and not able to monitor things the way they initially intended. They also brought me a thermometer, thermometer covers, and masks.
When I read the order it actually said the health department is responsible for getting us scripts, food, and basic needs if we were unable to since we could not leave our house. However it seems that was somewhat of a joke because they gave us a number to call 24 hours a day but when I did call it, it went to voicemail and the mailbox was full.
Can you describe what the virus was like for you? How did your symptoms progress and what precautions did you take?
Honestly, I had a milder case of COVID. I never again had a fever after that first night but I did have a cough, body aches, and headaches the first several days. I would also get a sore throat at night but it would then go away the next day. After about a week I lost my sense of taste and smell. After a full two weeks of this, I started to feel better but then became very exhausted.
I would sleep eight to ten hours overnight and then nap one or two times a day. I’m currently finishing my third week of COVID and still feel tired after doing things other than relaxing. I firmly believe my case was much milder because I am healthier. Prior to this, I exercised five days a week and I was eating whole foods, and mostly plant-based My only preexisting condition was asthma which is well-controlled.
Grateful for Family Support
Luckily my brother works at Wegmans (a regional grocery store chain) and lives nearby. He was great about getting us whatever we needed and he would leave it on our doorstep. My parents also went through the CVS pharmacy drive through a few times to get scripts for my husband and left them on our doorstep.
We monitored our temperature two times a day, drank a lot of water, and took Vitamin C as well. We also used Tylenol for aches and fever and drank hot tea throughout the day and made a huge pot of chicken soup.
Not All Cases Are Equal
My husband’s case was much worse. I had to really take care of him. His doctor decided that he should go to the hospital, but technically I wasn’t supposed to leave the house. We ended up calling an ambulance. Luckily they treated him in the ER, monitored him, and released him that night. So I had to leave the house anyway at 2 am to pick him up.
He had pneumonia in both lungs, they gave him oxygen and fluids and monitored his oxygen levels with walking around. They also started him on a Zpack for his pneumonia. The day after he stated he felt he needed to go back to the hospital. His doctor assured him his breathing was fine and he was just struggling with the cough and pneumonia. He was in this state for a good four days or so. His fever lasted fifteen days. He also struggled with nausea and did not eat for about five days.
Other Family Members, Not as Fortunate
In the middle of this, I learned my 66-year-old aunt was in the hospital on a ventilator for breathing issues on March 27. We later learned she was positive for COVID. The day my husband went to the hospital I learned earlier in the day there was nothing more the hospital could do for my aunt and my cousin chose to take her off the ventilator and let her pass. So when I kissed my husband goodbye before he got in that ambulance I worried that could be the last time I see him. It was scary. I am more of an optimist so I was able to focus on him getting better instead of the alternative.
COVID-19 Survivor and Recovery
What helped you get through? Self-care? Support? Netflix?
Having my husband home and him being sick as well helped in a sense because we didn’t have to stress about spreading it to one another or our loved ones. I also no longer had to stress about touching my face! Snuggling with my puppies was a big help for me.
Also, all the messages from friends and family via text, phone calls, and comments on social media definitely helped us feel cared for. So many people offered to get stuff for us and drop things off. I became obsessed with making videos of my dog, Loki using the My Talking Pet App. I told our story on Facebook through Loki’s videos. People thought they were a riot and after a few days, I was getting so many comments about how much it brightened people’s day that I felt it was my duty to keep it up. It was called Loki’s COVID Chronicles. I also used food. I normally eat healthily so I gave myself grace to eat whatever I wanted and enjoyed every minute of it.
From Sickness to COVID-19 Survivor
What was an early sign you were getting better?
I think my body aches and headaches went away first and my cough lessened.
What do you want people to know during this time when staying at home and sheltering in place continues to extend?
I think people need to take all of these precautions seriously so we can move towards going back to living a normal life sooner than later. People are dying. My aunt was so unexpected. She and I texted one another on March 23, only 4 days prior to her hospital admission and a week before my symptoms surfaced. We both were being cautious but were both essential workers.
I encourage people to call their loved ones, not just text or message on social media. My aunt died alone, in a hospital with no family around. There can be no funeral or wake. The next time my cousin will see her will be when he gets her ashes. That’s a horrible way to die. So everyone needs to do their part to stop the spread!
We’re so thankful to share Dana’s remarkable COVID-19 survivor story, and for all the people who helped make it possible. Hopefully, we will soon get more answers and tests to slow and stop COVID-19!