Susan Puls: I'm usually very healthy. And the next thing I know, I'm on the floor and the EMT's helped him get me to the testing center. So, it is unlike...everybody thinks it's the flu or a bad cold, or a sinus infection. In my lifetime, I've never experienced anything like this.
Nick Gosnell: In our second episode of the podcast, we talked to a long time Hutchinson resident about her experience with COVID-19 and the lingering effects she has from the infection.
Susan Puls: This is Susan Puls, and I would like to share my COVID-19 story with you. I am kind of a sort of halfway retired small business owner there in Hutchinson, lived there my whole life. I was very active in our community. I did our community health fair, and very, very active and I thought I was fairly healthy, did everything I could not to get the virus. We kind of self quarantined in March when we canceled the health fair and so I was very much a normal person in Hutchinson, Kansas.
From probably the first time I heard about it in February from a dear friend that my husband and I needed to be prepared to stay in isolation to change our lifestyle, I took it very serious. But, the actual thing that really helped me understand it was being involved with the Hutchinson community health fair and being involved with having to cancel that in early March. And so that was, I was blessed not to rely on the internet or Facebook or anything like that. I was blessed to have actual knowledge from medical people that were telling me this is like nothing we've ever experienced before.
We stayed very close. My husband has some heart issues and on the basis of the advice of our physicians, we minimized outside social contact, but we did go out to a restaurant and I found out the next day that they had closed, due to several employees...and then I kind of thought I personally, we both personally in March, started taking our temperature every morning. And I first noticed that a few days after that my temperature was rising and then I thought, ah, nah, I'm just imagining. And then the way I found out was, um, July 7th, I just turned to my husband. I said, I think I need to go get tested for COVID, which was very bizarre for me. I'm usually very healthy. And the next thing I know, I'm on the floor and the EMT's helped him get me to the testing center. So, it is unlike...everybody thinks it's the flu or a bad cold, or a sinus infection. In my lifetime, I've never experienced anything that...like this. So it is unique for my, from my personal viewpoint. It was very quick for me with a very sudden illness. I don't know how other than by the grace of God. I knew I'd never felt like this before. I had listened to my health providers prior to that, and my doctors and I just knew, I don't know how to tell, you know, Nick, that you just, I just had a knowing that I did have it, but I don't remember much. Of course, once I went to the ER and everything like that, that for a while, and then it definitely does change. It's like your lifestyle. You get very, very ill after the visit to the ER, my husband and I both self quarantined. It was unfortunately during the period of time when there were a lot of, a lot of lapse of time in response because of 4th of July and exposure, I didn't get the actual results for some time, but we did self isolate.
I was very ill for at least a week and basically lost about three or four weeks of my life. During that period, I would get better and have relapses. I struggled to still maintain our business. The other thing that it affects you, affected me anyway was just the one, the way that my husband would get it, that I would, I would be concerned about that. Mentally, I still am challenged to this day. I struggle with some thought processes, good days and bad days I've been told everything about this disease is research. There's not a definitive, you're going to get put in a box in six weeks, you're going to feel normal. It's affected my, my breathing ability to some extent. So we're doing some pulmonology follow up. But, I struggle with, I think someone referred to it as COVID fog, so at times my mental acuity is less than I'd like it to be at this point, and so I I've just been patient with myself with that particular situation. So, there's a lot to it. I just feel like that people need to be very aware that, be ready for your life to be altered for at least two weeks where you're going to be probably more ill than you've ever been and during that period of time, you have the concern of not being able to go out. You need to have everything ready to go so that your who is ever going to be your caregiver can be protected as well as the food you need, and all the preparations she needed to do, and then after that prepared for just a rollercoaster of emotions and physical ability and change of health.
You just have very little warning. I mean, I was up and moving around and having breakfast that morning and then about 10 o'clock. Um, I didn't feel well. And by, you know, one o'clock the MTS are there. I can't get off the floor. I mean, I could not get myself up. And I, at the pain, it's just different. There's a pain to it. And you're just ill and ff course, prior to that base of flight, I thought I had the flu because you have the chills and all the things that they talk about, the chills and the temperature, um, towards the end, the last, the loss of sense of taste, just incredible weakness and was in my certain thing, I was blessed. You know, I had a lot of trouble breathing, of course, and we just followed the doctor's advice and did what, that's the main thing I want people to understand just because you don't have a test, please be aware and be responsible for other people in your community. It doesn't take too much effort to stay home.
Nick Gosnell: Let's be clear. You did go to the ER, were you admitted to the hospital at any point?
Susan Puls: No, I was not. I was sent home...the difficulty of being in the hospital alone in the ER, and being so ill and not having my husband. There's just a mental part of it because you feel so incredibly weak, tired, pain that it, you struggle just to sleep at times. You struggled to, I struggled physically to be able to get to the bathroom and be strong enough to ambulate. You just, it's very, very quick for me. It's not like there's a warning, like you feel ill for two or three weeks. If you're feeling ill for two weeks. For me personally, it was a very quick onset within hours, probably just the initial week was the worst. After that, I was able to get up and get around and have some appetite, but the pain was, um, like nothing I'd ever had.
And I was so thankful that they were able to treat that and at the ER, and they sent me home. One of the things I guess I would tell people too, is, um, be ready. And possibly if you've been exposed to family, I would encourage you to try to get your family members to be tested at that particular time. It's not a pleasant test, but it's something that if you endure, then there's knowledge. If you're not tested, there's not knowledge. Limit your exposure and your contact to crowds. Do you really have to? I changed my lifestyle. I'm, I'm doing more things online and purchasing like that. I kind of think of it as every person that I, I choose to be in contact with. I value the fact that they are responsible for their health. And they're doing the things I'm doing by social distancing, minimizing outside contact, washing my hands, so they don't, you can't wash your hands enough wearing my mask when I go outside, not being in enclosures. And if I'm in a room or limit that amount of time, I'm in with strange people. I also still would discourage people. For instance, we race cars. I, during this whole period prior refused to get into the car with anyone except my husband, because that's one of the, you know, you're just so enclosed in that area. That's the main thing is where your mask, wash, I mean the same things that the CDC are saying, but also for me, realize that the people that you come in contact are very important. And the fact that for instance, my husband has had COVID, he was asymptomatic. We aren't for sure when he had it, but during that period of time, he could have potentially given it to a lot of people.
The limiting, the contact as much as possible is the most important thing. I think the other thing for us was taking our temperature and just being healthy, taking your vitamin, you know, boosting your immunity, staying healthy. Because I know I asked my doctor, I said, I really felt like overall for my age and for everything because I was so healthy and I was proactive and staying healthy, my recovery period has been shortened. I pray anyway, that then there'd be no long term affects. Admittedly. I feel like too, if you're stressed, I was burning the candle at all ends at that particular time, probably. We were selling our home. And so I kind of feel like one of the things we can do is just avoid a lot of stress is healthy as you possibly can, as well as avoid a lot of contact with people you don't know, especially if you're concerned that they're out, making a lot of contact with others. We have to quit trusting the advice of the internet or the Facebook or other people.
I believe that everything about this disease right now is truly research. We don't have definitive answers. We, you know, we're still practicing for everybody's benefit all the protocol that one should do to be safe. The masks, the washing hands, limiting contact, because everything is research. There's just not anything definitive. Listen to your doctors, work with them, you know, seek out health people, health professionals. And that's the thing that I was blessed with. I was involved with enough health professionals that got me thinking about it ahead of time. So like so many things, when we get ill or have a surgery, Plan ahead. Plan to be ill, plan to be ready to have all the things you're going to need. If you're very, very ill and have a plan, how are you going to social distance? Where's your family going to be? Where's your loved ones going to be while you're trying not to give this back to them. Because for me, and I believe others, if that's part of the disease we don't talk about is the mental issues related to wondering if we're going to give it to someone else. If you don't have a positive swab, you're not for sure. You might just think you were ill. So if one of you, if one family member tests positive, I personally would recommend the others consider being tested at that point, depending on their medical advice. But, looking back, that's one thing I wished we had done was immediately test my husband. Take your temperature every day. That was the thing that really indicated to me that got me to pay more attention to how I felt at the time.
Nick Gosnell: Our thanks to Susan Puls for sharing her story about her experience with COVID-19. Are you a COVID-19 patient and want to tell your story on this podcast? Email your contact info and a few sentences about your experience to [email protected] I'm Nick Gosnell. Join us next week for COVID-19: My Story on hutchpost.com and on your favorite podcast app.