COVID-19 True Story: “I didn’t expect to be so vulnerable”

Anthony Dozier is a COVID-19 survivor

I started feeling the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on Friday, March 20. I remember it like it was yesterday. I went to work like always. By mid-day, I began to have a headache and felt sluggish. So I went home to rest.

The next morning, I woke up to another headache and again tried to go about my day. But my head would not stop hurting. I put up with it for as long as I could, but once again had to go home early. I just chalked it up to allergies and thought I should tough it out.

By Tuesday, I felt even worse. I still had a headache and a new symptom: A fever of 102 degrees. On top of my fever, I started having loose stools and could not keep food down for long. I decided to go to urgent care, where I was told that I needed to get a doctor’s referral before I could be tested for this new virus. I wanted to be brave for my wife and son. But I was getting weaker by the day and felt no relief. Besides, I wasn’t coughing, which is one of the symptoms of COVID-19. I only had a fever, diarrhea and a headache that wouldn’t go away.

My wife took my temperature again, and it was still high. She wanted to take me to the hospital. I told her that if my fever didn’t change by the morning, then I would go. Needless to say, she won the argument. I was admitted to Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) 23 pounds lighter and nine days after my first signs of COVID-19. I was in very bad shape.

I began my time at AAMC in the Observation Unit. I was initially diagnosed with pneumonia and given an MRI. The nurses and doctors took great care of me and checked on me every four hours. By my second day in the hospital, I could barely breathe and was given oxygen. I got weak and couldn’t walk more than a few steps to the bathroom. My oxygen levels dipped to the low 70s.

By day four, I was moved to the ICU, and there was talk of putting me on a ventilator. But one doctor decided to try another oxygen machine, and I began to improve slowly. At one point, my fever was still high and the nurses placed packs of ice around my body to cool me down.

After spending five days in the ICU, I was then released to the fifth floor, where I would remain for seven more days. My health care team did a great job meeting my medical needs. Because of the no-visitor policy, I could only talk to my family and friends on the phone. There was one man from Food Services who always checked on me before his shift ended. I appreciated him going above and beyond for me.

I decided I wanted to thank the doctors and nurses, including those in the ICU and in the Emergency Department, who took such good care of me. So I treated them to Ledo’s Pizza a few days before I left AAMC. I didn’t expect to be so vulnerable. I’m in my early 50s and very active. But I knew I was in good hands and that reassured me that I could beat this virus.

I went home after being in the hospital for 16 days. It took three more weeks to fully regain the strength in my legs. I can still feel a little difference in my breathing. But all in all, I am just about fully recovered.

Anthony Dozier, 54, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland is a COVID-19 survivor.