BEATING THE VIRUS: Veteran faced new battle fighting the ‘invisible enemy’

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TYLER, Texas (KETK)- For veterans, when they return home, the physical battle is over. But as the coronavirus pandemic spread, one East Texas woman faced a new battle she never expected.

Elizabeth Kendrick knows all too well about the war on both fronts, since she was diagnosed with COVID-19 back in March.

“Just very surprising that I got it at all. It was just a big shock, but I did get it,” she said.

For over 23 years, she spent her life in the Army as a patrol supply specialist. Growing up in Tyler, while she attended Texas College, an ROTC recruiter came to the campus.

“This seems like something I could do, so me and my friend girls went downtown and we talked to the recruiter and we joined the military,” remembered Kendrick.

That decision would allow her to serve from 1978 to 2003. After retiring, she thought she was done fighting. That was until she started feeling sick.

“I called my doctor and got an appointment with her and she told me to come in, and she tested me for regular flu symptoms but everything came back negative,” said Kendrick.

One day started out as normal, then she said something felt wrong. Still going on with her normal schedule, until two weeks went by, and she continued to feel ill.

“So it constantly went on and on and on, then I got the dry cough,” said Kendrick.

While on the phone with her brother, after he called to check-in on how she was feeling, she walked to the kitchen to grab a glass of water, but that’s when she says, she couldn’t breathe.

“By the time I got back to my bedroom I had lost all breathe in my body. It was just like gone that quick,” Kendrick remembers, “the ambulance came out and picked me up and took me to UT health science, and that’s where I went and they did some tests and all that, told me that I had tested positive for COVID-19” 

For four days, Kendrick stayed in the hospital, surrounded by nurses and doctors dressed fully in personal protective equipment.

“Why, why did I get this? I haven’t been nowhere, so how could I get this and it was really crazy and I was scared and I was crying and my sons, they were crying,” questioned Kendrick.

Not allowed to see or speak to anyone besides doctors, Kendricks started to miss her family more and more. She describes it as the hardest part during her journey. Especially not seeing her 98-year-old mother, who she thought was more at risk to catch the virus.

“My immune system I guess it was pretty good, because I did exercise plus being in the army I was still ripping and running and jumping around,” said Kendrick.

Although Kendrick never had to be put on a ventilator, doctors kept her in the hospital to monitor her symptoms.

“They come in giving me shots and checking my vital signs, by blood pressure, and making sure I was still breathing,” explained Kendrick.

Finally able to go home, she was required to self quartile for 14 days. Now, she is grateful to be able to look back and share her story.

“I give all praises to God and to just be able to talk about this and let people know that this coronavirus is not no joke people need to take advantage,” said Kendrick.

It’s a battle she has won, but hopes her story will encourage others to prepare for the fight before it’s too late.

“Do everything that’s possible to keep you from getting this. Nobody knows if you’ll get it or not but you just have to take precaution to keep yourself clean,” urges Kendrick.

Although Kendrick says she still suffers from shortness of breath, her most recent x-rays show her lungs are clear.

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