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Living with COVID-19: A fighter shares her story

Photo courtesy Dawn Skenadore

Dawn and Arthur Skenadore are nearing the end of their battles with COVID-19. Arthur will be released from isolation April 9, while Dawn hopes to be cleared within the next week.

It only took two days for her to begin feeling its effects, but Oneida’s Dawn Skenadore and her husband Arthur knew something wasn’t right. They had attended a friendly gathering in Oneida prior to the current “Safer At Home” orders and social distancing guidelines that have become a part of daily life. Within days of the gathering, Dawn began experiencing body aches and running a slight fever. That same day, she received a text from the host of the gathering informing her that he was sick. Three days later, she was being tested for COVID-19 at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital. One week later her test results came back positive, as did test results for the host of the gathering. The Skenadores, along with their three daughters, have been in medical isolation at their home since. Fortunately, all three daughters are asymptomatic.

“The body aches were the first thing I experienced and it felt like the seasonal flu,” Skenadore, 47, said. “I also came down with a slight fever which never went above 101 degrees. But when my husband got sick, his temperature was above 102. I called the Oneida Health Center as well as Bellin Health for advice and I just stayed in bed, but my body aches got so bad I ended up having to go to St. Mary’s Hospital. It was a weird experience at the hospital because they had us pull into the garage area as they weren’t letting people into the building.

“I was seen by a doctor and nurse and was tested,” Skenadore, who is also diabetic, said. “The body aches hurt so bad and it felt like it was literally in my bones. I would go a full day or two without eating, and I lost my sense of taste and smell. Even now, three weeks on, I still have the body aches. I can wake up and get through the days and the aches aren’t too bad, but when I try to go to sleep at night I can feel them creeping back in.”

Throughout her ordeal, sleep became a priceless commodity for Skenadore as she battled this potentially deadly virus. “I began having trouble breathing as well,” Skenadore said. “A few nights ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and noticed I was having a hard time trying to breath, but it was only that one night.”

As the Skenadores travel the road to recovery, they are more than ready to put this chapter of their life behind them. “My husband’s fever broke and he will be released from isolation tomorrow,” Skenadore said. “It’s all dependent upon the symptoms. I no longer have a fever either, and my cough has gotten much better. As soon as I am completely symptom free I will be released from isolation as well, and hopefully that will be within the next week. And fortunately none of our three daughters have displayed any symptoms from this outbreak….knock on wood.”

For those experiencing minor symptoms, the most common forms of pain relief are the over-the-counter medications typically used for colds and other ailments. “I was told by the public health nurse to use things like Theraflu, Tylenol and Mucinex as there are limited options for treatment,” Skenadore said. “But they’ve been doing their regular follow-ups with us and checking on our symptoms, and we’ve been doing the self-quarantine and pumping the vitamin C gummies.”

As they near the end of this undesirable journey, the Skenadores say they have many people they want to thank. “We’ve had so many people offer to help pick up things for us and drop them off,” Skenadore said. “People have helped us out with food, water, Gatorade, even money and things of that nature. It’s been amazing. Help has come from people I never really would have expected it from….we are so grateful for all of this. I want to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to the community and everybody for their prayers and thinking of us. I especially want to thank Jamie Betters, Sandra Thomas, Corinna Charles, Jude Skenadore, and Cher Stevens to name a few. But ‘Thank You’ to everybody.

“Stay at home. Stay at home until this curve flattens so it’s not spreading,” Skenadore said. “You just don’t know if you have it or who you may be spreading it to. We hold no ill will towards the individual we believe we got this from, because he didn’t know. This isn’t something you want to have. The uncertainty surrounding this, and the people that are dying, is very scary. If you have to go to the store, make sure it’s in and out. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Just be mindful, not only of yourself, but those around you.”