NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Health officials say the coronavirus is particularly dangerous for senior citizens and people with underlying respiratory issues.
But one Brooklyn woman is sharing her story to show that others are not always immune.
"I have never smoked. I have never had asthma. I have never had a respiratory issue. I exercise regularly. My diet is pretty damn clean. I have never drank alcohol. I have no relevant underlying medical illness to speak of (save for the migraines - and the sinus issues). I should have been unaffected. This virus doesn't care," Samantha Ment wrote in an emotional Instagram post.
The 37-year-old initially had a nasty sinus infection, which may have weakened her immune system and made her more susceptible.
As the coronavirus pandemic became a reality in New York City, she was eventually tested for COVID-19.
"For weeks it's been attacking my body (and mind tbh) in various erratically-inconsistent ways. Subtle at first, inconvenient after that, blatantly obvious in retrospect. My official test results (once they finally did arrive) were of no surprise to my excellent long time primary doctor," Ment wrote. "She has been monitoring and managing my array of symptoms since February—when what had been a nasty sinus infection became something we couldn't seem to resolve or confidently diagnose."
She had been staying home since early March, save for visiting her doctor.
But when her symptoms worsened Friday, it was time to go to the emergency room.
"Today, my caring, calm, collected doctor spoke in a tone that I had never heard from her. She immediately insisted it was time for me to get to an ER. It was no longer prudent to assume I would wholly self-resolve," wrote Ment. "I didn't argue—after weeks of dismissing such extreme suggestions from concerned well meaning friends and family—I knew she was right."
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Ment's husband drove her to New York Presbyterian Hospital, but was not allowed inside. She had to go in on her own.
Her fever was low-grade and her cough was suppressed - thanks to the medication she was taking - but she couldn't breathe.
"I was suffocating. My oxygen saturation was dangerously low. My chest tightening in pain with each attempt to gasp for air. For what seemed like an eternity, I was certain doctors were going to have to intubate me," she wrote. "I was alone. Crying. Suffocating. Gasping for air while lying completely still. I sent messages to my family reminding them my end of life wishes—just in case."
Some have said the coronavirus is like a bad flu, but she begs to differ.
She said she was more scared than ever before in her life.
"As much fear as I had in those moments, somehow it did not seem to equate to what I could read in the eyes of the staff caring for me. The eyes being the only thing I could see," she wrote. "These woman and men didn't have answers, assumptions, or promises. In the past week, they have experienced this unravel — shattering any notion of what was understood or believed before."
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Eventually, the heroes in the hospital were able to stabilize her breathing and send her back home.
If she had been admitted just a day earlier, she likely would have stayed longer. But the directives are changing daily as space and supplies grow scarce.
"Reading my discharge instructions out loud to me, the nurse inserted a disclaimer 'yes, I know we are dismissing you with instructions that say to come back if you are experiencing the exact things you are experiencing now, this protocol was created yesterday, things were different then,'" she wrote.
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Ment's story is a stark reminder why people should be practicing social distancing – if not for themselves, for others.
"This is real. This is cruel, indiscriminate, and devastating in ways we will not realize for days, weeks, months, and likely generations," she wrote. "Quarantine is hard. Pain, suffering, and death are much harder."
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