Linda Ojeda: On August 29, I had opened a jar of Vicks for Tony and I couldn't smell it. And I thought, uh-oh...
Linda Ojeda: My name is Linda Ojeda
Tony Ojeda: and my name is Tony Ojeda
Both: And this is our COVID-19 story.
Linda Ojeda: Tony has lived here all his life, born and raised here. I have lived here for the majority of my life. So probably totaled about 55 years here in Hutchinson.
Tony Ojeda: I have my own business at the mall. I'm a personal trainer.
Nick Gosnell: Tony, what did you think about the coronavirus before you got it?
Tony Ojeda: I knew it was real. To me, it wasn't a hoax or a lie.
Linda Ojeda: I agree. I was going by what the scientists said. I knew it wasn't just the flu that was going around. Um, I knew it was a pandemic and that majors needed to be taken to keep us safe.
Tony Ojeda: At first I thought it was my allergies. Cause I had the sniffles and a little bit of congestion and a headache and fever. Then I went and got tested on the 26th of August. Two days after that, I tested positive and then I was released on the third of this month.
Linda Ojeda: We had to isolate from each other at home. And I had had a little bit of congestion that I thought too, 'Oh, maybe it's just my allergies,' On August 29, I had opened a jar of Vicks for Tony and I couldn't smell it. And I thought, uh-oh..., and so an epidemiologist with KDHE had been in contact with us and I had explained some of my symptoms to him. So he clinically diagnosed with me with COVID on August 29th. Had I have been in the same condition that Tony was, it would have been very difficult because I was helping to take care of him.
Nick Gosnell: Tony, when did you feel the worst?
Tony Ojeda: Probably three days after I started feeling, you know, like allergy symptoms, probably three days after that is when I started getting worse. At my worst, I was just very weak. I mean, extreme fatigue and Linda had to actually get me up from bed and up from sitting, sitting on the couch, she had to help me up and then she'd walk me around. And I mean, I was just, I mean, I was gone. I was wasted. And, but I guess the most fortunate thing, you know, I wasn't, my lungs was working okay, I was just very weak. And, and then of course I had a fever and the chills and that and muscle aches. My lower back was hurting bad.
Linda Ojeda: My worst was probably, Oh, I'd say like the very end of August, I had severe muscle and joint pain. I had a little bit of fatigue, some coughing congestion, loss of sense of smell, brain fog, which is still going on to this day.
Tony Ojeda: Both of us.
Linda Ojeda: And Tony had a loss of sense of smell as well and still haven't recovered that.
Tony Ojeda: He told me, cause I asked him about that and he said, everybody's different. He said, yours can be two weeks. It can be a month or maybe a little longer until you get it back. And actually, I'm starting to get a little bit of it back now. I mean, I'm starting to smell like cologne and soap and that. So it's coming back, but it's coming back slowly.
Nick Gosnell: Is there any other lingering effects, Linda from you?
Linda Ojeda: Just a little bit of fatigue and weakness. I'm not able to do things to the extent I was earlier.
Nick Gosnell: What kind of outside support from other people did you get during this time?
Tony Ojeda: We had support from our neighbor and some of my clients would message or call me. And of course, telling me if we needed help to let you know, let them know about as far as groceries and that. I don't know, I can't tell you how many clients I have, but it was at least half of them that you know, were supportive.
Linda Ojeda: And our families were in contact with us too. Just checking up to make sure we were okay.
Nick Gosnell: Do you have any idea where you guys got it?
Linda Ojeda: None what so ever. You know, when we go to the grocery store or anything, we were always really careful about wiping the carts down. We both wore masks, but then you wonder, did I touch something and then touched my face and maybe got it that way? Because neither one of us had been in large groups of people for extended periods of time. We didn't know anyone else that had it. None of Tony's clients have been tested positive. So it's an unknown. We continue to wear a mask, wash our hands, use, use hand sanitizer all the time.
Tony Ojeda: I still continue wiping my equipment down after each client. So I, I clean it every time they use some dumbbells. I clean the handles, the bars. I cleaned the bars, any of the machines I'd clean them still. So after each client, so I, I'm pretty cautious now. I mean, I was before, but I'm extremely cautious now.
Linda Ojeda: And what's frustrating is a lot of people don't like wearing the mask. They say it's uncomfortable. It's an infringement. You know, I get all that. Yes, it, it is uncomfortable. But you know, we live by rules all the time that government and businesses put on us. So I don't know what world they're living in. Um, but reality is we live by those rules every day. And in my opinion, you know, businesses tell you it used to be no shirt, no shoes, no service. For me now it's no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service. It's as simple as that, be responsible and care about other people, not just yourself.
Nick Gosnell: Linda, you work for the city of Hutchinson. That's gotta be difficult in its own way.
Linda Ojeda: City Hall is still closed to the public. We do allow individuals in, um, for like council meetings or if there are extenuating circumstances. But I know a lot of the people are not happy that we're not open. Um, you know, why do we need to wear a mask? That type of thing? I'm sorry. It's for the protection of everybody.
Nick Gosnell: Are you at all concerned about maybe some of these long-term effects that we don't know about yet because this disease hasn't been out here that long yet like long-term organ issues, particularly you, Tony, with what you do for a living.
Tony Ojeda: Yeah. And here's another thing I wanted to say, you know, just because somebody is released doesn't mean that you're back to a hundred percent. In relation to what you just asked. I mean, that's basically my statement on that. I mean, cause you don't know and nobody knows yet, you know, it's just like Linda said, I'm going to go by science first. That's where I stand.
Nick Gosnell: If you knew that something like a treatment or a vaccine became available and it was something kind of like the flu shot where you took it every year, is that something you guys think you would do having gone through this now?
Tony Ojeda: My answer would be, I would have to see um, probably data and statistics on it first.
Linda Ojeda: I'm not going to rush into getting a vaccine. I don't want to see something that's just been pushed through and not gone through the testing that needs to take place. After it's been thoroughly tested and science has said, yes, it's safe...I take a lot of stock in what Dr. Fauci says. You know, if he were willing to take the vaccine, I probably would be too.
Nick Gosnell: Linda, as somebody who works for city government. What do you see as government's response in this?
Linda Ojeda: There seems to be a big disconnect and I totally get that because nobody's gone through this before. You know, we were contacted directly by KDHE, not by the Reno County health department. And I think that's because of a staff shortage maybe with the health department. But, for instance, I had a doctor's appointment and he had not been notified at all that Tony had tested positive or that I was positive, which is a little bit concerning. You think your family doctor would have that information. So I think there's a disconnect that needs to be fixed.
Nick Gosnell: Tony, any final thoughts or anything that I haven't asked you guys?
Tony Ojeda: A lot of people are saying that it's, it's the flu. And I tell you what, all I can say is, it's not the flu. I mean, I can attest because it happened to me. I know what the flu feels like. And believe me, this is not the flu. This is something else. So any, any individuals say, oh, it's the flu, you know, and you're going through the symptoms in the flu. Well, in the first place, I thought the flu starts like during the fall and that, this is during the summer, this ain't no flu. This, this is actually COVID. And you know, I'm not a scientist or a doctor, but yeah, this, this is something completely different than the flu.
I definitely agree. This is not the flu. I've had the flu before the flu doesn't have longterm effects when it's over, it's over, this does not act in the same way. Brain fog is a real thing. We forget about, you know, we'll be talking and it's like, what's the word I want? Or, you know, I, I don't remember things that I was supposed to do. And some of that leads to frustration, which in turn leads to depression, mild depression. Um, but you wonder, what's happening to me and how long is this going to last?