Sara and Jerry DeBerry

Catoosa County residents Sara and Jerry DeBerry shared the experience of COVID-19 together throughout the month of November.

In early November, when Catoosa County resident Sara DeBerry developed a severe cough, then a fever, she assumed she probably had the flu. She’d had it before.

DeBerry had to drive to Atlanta the day the cough hit her. “It was miserable,” she says. “I could hardly drive.”

Sara’s husband, Jerry, who has numerous serious health problems, including high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, arthritis and fibromyalgia, soon developed symptoms of a sinus infection. “I didn’t think I had COVID,” he says. “I take all the precautions and I hardly ever go anywhere. I was more concerned that Sara might have it.”

The couple decided they would both be tested for COVID-19. They went to a walk-in clinic where Sara received a rapid test and doctors recommended her husband have the more accurate PCR test. Sara tested negative and Jerry tested positive. They started a quarantine immediately, which they say wasn’t that hard since they didn’t feel well anyway.

Three days after their COVID-19 tests, Sara was not feeling any better. Her breathing was strained and her cough made it difficult to even talk. She and Jerry decided she should get the PCR test. This time she came out positive.

“We started taking vitamin C and zinc supplements and drinking plenty of fluids,” says Sara.

Both Sara and her husband lost their sense of taste, though she lost hers for only two days while his disappeared for three weeks. “I could taste a few things,” says Jerry, “like dill pickles.”

Neither lost their sense of smell, but Sara says she’s hardly had a sense of smell her whole life.

Both Sara and her husband say COVID-19 made them very tired. Jerry says he felt weak and blacked out four times within a week. Once he passed out in the bathroom and fell and hit his head on the vanity. Another time he blacked out and crumpled to the floor in a hall just as he was about to go into his basement.

Sara called an ambulance when Jerry hit his head, but he declined a trip to the hospital. “The only thing they could do is put me on a ventilator,” he says. “I wasn’t at that point.”

“Jerry’s blood pressure dropped very low in the afternoons,” says Sara, “and all he could do was sleep.”

Sara’s cough persisted for a month. “I’m still not breathing normally,” she says. “You can really tell it’s a respiratory issue.”

Two weeks after being diagnosed with COVID-19, the DeBerrys were tested again. Both tested negative, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to let down their guard. “We’ll still be wearing masks and practicing social distancing,” says Sara. “You hear about these things, but you don’t think it will happen to you.”

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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