Detroit nurse who survived severe COVID-19 symptoms describes hectic early stages of pandemic

Monique Morris shares story of confronting coronavirus face-to-face

DETROIT – A Detroit nurse who almost died from severe coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms shared her story about the hectic early days of the pandemic and how she went from hero to patient and back.

“In the beginning there was a lot of scrambling because we knew very little about the virus, in particular,” Monique Morris said. “One day we went to work and the hallways were cleared. We’re taking care of regular patients, and then the next week, it was just everything in the hallways. How do we contain everything? How do we keep our patients safe? How do we keep ourselves safe? We were all just trying to figure it out.”

Morris is a nurse at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

“We had gowns and we had masks and things like that, but we did not know that when we were taking care of these patients, while we were giving them breathing treatments that were actually aerosol and ICUs, and it was becoming airborne at that time,” Morris said. “So even though we were wearing the proper equipment to the best of our knowledge where we knew at the time, I got hyper-exposed taking care of a patient who needed a breathing treatment before being transferred to the ICU.”

Within days, on March 18, Morris developed the same symptoms she was seeing at the hospital. Before she knew it, she said she went from hero to helpless and became a patient herself.

Morris said she was extremely sick and close to death.

She was a newlywed of only eight months.

“There were so many things, and you know, dreams that we were already expanding upon -- trying to start a family and all those things in August,” Morris said. “(I was thinking), ‘I’m not going to make it back to that. If I don’t fight harder, I don’t make it bak to him.’ I’m kind of trying to finish those dreams.

“That sole feeling of that separation from my husband at the time, I just felt like I needed to get back to him. I couldn’t leave this world, leave him alone.”

It’s been more than five months and Morris has survived her scare. She’s still recovering physically from bouts of exhaustion and the fogginess of COVID-19 brain. She said she’s trying to remaster the no-longer simple task of walking.

Morris has returned to work and retaken her place among the heroes who saved her.

“Now every time I go through those doors, it’s just a sense of gratefulness knowing that every time I get the opportunity to take a breath and take a step forward, it’s just a blessing within itself,” Morris said.

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