Kathy Mouacheupao faced challenges just to get tested in early to mid-March, and the important message she has for the rest of us.
March 9 had been a regular day. She went to work as the executive director of the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. She came home and even had dinner with a friend that evening.
“Around 9 or 10 pm, before I was going to go to bed, I felt a little bit of a scratch in the my throat,” Mouacheupao said. She said when she woke up, she had a pretty severe cough and sore throat and then a whole list of other symptoms began.
“Fatigue, I was getting chills sweating at the same time,” Mouacheupao said. “My highest fever was 102.9.”
Mouacheupao said when she woke up in between a ton of sleep, she would google how to get tested for COVID-19.
“I thought for sure it would just be a whole list of places to get tested and instead there was nothing,” she said. Eventually she contacted a nurse line at Health Partners and was able to talk to someone.
“I think there was enough nuance in my story for her to be like, ‘OK,’ you know she was like, ‘Let me call the clinic and I’ll get back to you,’” Mouacheupao said.
This was the beginning of a series of other calls.
“Somebody else calls me and this woman is like, ‘Here’s a phone number for you to call,’” Mouacheupao said. “At this point I’m like, this is really complicated this is really like a puzzle,” she said.
She finally got a tested on March 13.
A few days went by. She left voicemails. But finally, she got a call. Mouacheupao said the person on the line told her she had tested positive.
“I felt guilty, I felt worried, I felt concerned, I felt scared,” Mouacheupao said. She wanted to know what the protocol for notifying others she had been in contact with before her symptoms became apparent was.
“She said it was at my discretion and so that was shocking to me,” Mouacheupao said.
Mouacheupao said the COVID-19 road to recovery was a brutal and lonely one.
“So there’s the fear of dying, the fear of having the social stigma attached to this both being a person who has COVID but also being an Asian person who has COVID which was an additional layer of stress that I think is completely unnecessary,” Mouacheupao said.
What helped her get out of it? “Kind of like isolating myself from the bad news, but also thinking about all the reasons why I want to live,” Mouacheupao said.
Mouacheupao said she had her last fever on March 22. It took her more than a month to share her story publicly. Why?
“I think part of it is, to a certain degree, having control over my own narrative,” she said.
The other part is that Mouacheupao feels it’s really important to share stories of survival.
“People should be vigilant and people should be taking it seriously but because many people are going to get it,” Mouacheupao said. “I think there also has to be a message out there that you’ll survive it,” she said. “It requires the support of the community, it requires the social conditions for people to feel like they can beat it.”
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