COVID-19 patient encourages others to seek medical help for severe symptoms: ‘In 14 days, you could be dead’


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) –In a hospital bed with oxygen tubes: that’s the selfie pose Antoinette Tyler is sharing with her friends on Facebook.

The message the retired Portsmouth teacher’s aid posted with the selfie was described to 10 On Your Side in a Zoom interview.

“If you feel sick — I can’t express this enough — if you wake up, you feel sick, you got a sore throat, your head hurts, please head to the hospital and don’t wait… Tried to do the 14 days, but in 14 days, you could be dead,” implored Tyler.

Time was not on Tyler’s side. On Oct. 6, one week after a COVID-19 diagnosis and while attempting a home-based recovery of 14 days in quarantine, Tyler called on her 21-year old grandson to get emergency assistance.

“I couldn’t take it no more. I got up out of the bed and I almost passed out. I told my grandson ‘Call 911. Call the ambulance,'” said Tyler.

The 59-year-old, who has a heart condition, was rushed to Chesapeake Regional Medical Center where she is now on oxygen and steroids to help her lungs fight pneumonia.

Regina Mobley: “Was there a time when you thought you were going to die?”

Antoinette Tyler: “Yes ma’am. Literally, every day I thought I was going to die. It was like I’m just not going to make it out of here.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those diagnosed with COVID-19 should seek immediate emergency medical attention if there is trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake and pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds. The CDC cautions there are other warning signs and patients should call a medical provider if they have concerns.

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Like most patients in hospitals battling COVID-19, Tyler is unvaccinated. The health department COVID-19 dashboard shows per 100,000 people, 25 COVID-19 hospital patients are fully vaccinated, just over 103 are partially vaccinated and more than 150 patients are unvaccinated.

She is on the mend and in the future, Tyler and her entire family will get the vaccine. Her entire multi-generational family of 10 caught the potentially deadly coronavirus.

For now, she still can’t taste or smell food which is a tell-tale symptom of COVID-19. But this member of New Weeping Mary Missionary Baptist Church in Chesapeake tells 10 On Your Side she is praying for a full recovery that will allow her to cook Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings including chitterlings and homemade cornbread.

“Everyone is doing much better except me. Still in the hospital, but I’m getting better,” Tyler said.

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