Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Nedra Brown's COVID-19 experience

Nedra Brown
With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, a GCCCD employee agreed to share her experience with the illness. 

As she slowly recovers from her bout with COVID-19, Nedra Brown has a message for anyone who doubts the seriousness of the virus.

“Even if you do not know someone who has been affected, the virus is real,” said Brown, Associate Dean of Athletics at Grossmont College. “The symptoms are real. It’s not something I would want anyone to go through.” 

Brown says she was careful. She has been working from home and only had limited contacts except for trips to the grocery store. When she woke up one morning in November with flu-like symptoms, she was relieved when they went away after she took some pain medication.

About a week later, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Brown was still feeling a little achy when she noticed she had lost her sense of smell. Even a body spray and a strong household disinfectant had no scent for her. Brown was tested for COVID-19 the next day, and learned she was positive.

“I just broke down. I cried and cried,” she said. “I just could not believe it. I felt sad and embarrassed and angry and scared.”

She immediately isolated herself from the others in her household – her sister and her elderly mother, who is at-risk with cancer. None of the people she had been in contact with tested positive for COVID-19, and Brown still isn’t sure how she got the virus.

Symptoms worsen 

For five days, Brown suffered from painful body aches. “I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck, like it had rolled over my body and stayed there,” she said.

The body aches eased, but then Brown began suffering from shortness of breath. She visited a hospital emergency room, but little could be done for her.

Brown also lost her sense of taste in addition to having no sense of smell. She became dehydrated and began suffering from brain fog.

“The brain fogs are real. I cannot remember names when I want to send an email. I can’t remember the names of famous athletes when I’m watching sports,” she said. “I mix up my words. I might say ‘bad,’ but I’m meaning ‘sad.’”

Recovery continues 

More than a month after Brown first experienced COVID-19 symptoms, she is still not fully recovered. Her sense of taste came back, but she still has no sense of smell. Her headaches and dizzy spells ended, but she still suffers from shortness of breath. She still struggles with brain fog.

Medicines used by Brown, from Facebook

Brown started doing “COVID Chronicles” on her Facebook page to be a resource for others coping with mental and physical symptoms of COVID-19.  Her goal was to help decrease the spread of the virus, provide a platform for others to express their experience, and educate others to pay attention to their bodies.

Brown praised the support she got from her colleagues during her ordeal. She said Marsha Gable, then Grossmont College’s Vice President of Student Services, showed her great concern and compassion. Cheryl Detwiler, the Human Resources Coordinator who monitors the District’s COVID-19 cases, followed up with Brown to check how she was coping.

“They’re the people I work with, but they approached it like I was a family member,” Brown said.