LI School Nurse Shares Her Experience With Coronavirus

LONG ISLAND, NY — A Long Island school nurse spent the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic educating students on how to stay healthy and prevent spreading the virus — but now after contracting COVID-19 herself, she is hoping to spread more awareness about the effects of the virus.

Cheryl Williams first started feeling symptoms of the disease in early April. The week before, her husband started feeling symptoms and eventually got sick himself. Williams thought she had isolated her husband soon after he got sick, but eventually the coronavirus spread to her and her two children.

At first, she just started feeling some muscle pain but didn't think too much of it. Soon after Williams, who has asthma, started feeling an asthmatic cough and experienced gastrointestinal issues. She also had a fever for 12 days and lost her sense of taste and smell.

Williams took a COVID-19 test a few days after she first felt symptoms and it came back positive. For two weeks, she said she was feeling "extremely" ill. She used several natural remedies to help with her symptoms, including eating foods with lots of garlic and ginger to control her nausea and steam to clear her lungs. She also used chest physiotherapy to improve her breathing.

"I felt like there were days I wasn't going to make it," Williams told Patch.

Fast-forward six months later. While Williams no longer has the coronavirus, she is still feeling lasting effects. She says she and her oldest son are experiencing extreme fatigue to this day.

But Williams, who is also an author, is not letting that stop her from educating others and sharing her story. In those months she was not working due to schools being closed, she wrote about it and made YouTube videos.

"I wanted to give these people a voice, because there's so much pent-up stress and frustration with this virus and how it affects us," she said. "I know people will think I'm crazy but there are benefits [to the pandemic] and I think that yes, there were situations where we will pulled apart because of the whole pandemic but there's situations where we come together and if we focus on coming together because we do need each other to get through this and empower each other."

Williams said she still feels a lot of people are taking the pandemic too lightly.

"Even before I became a school nurse, I worked in a hospital setting and in a nursing home, so I know how contagious and how crazy these viruses can be. It's so unpredictable," she said. "One thing I learned is that COVID-19 is something that we should not sleep on, never take lightly."

Now that she is back to work, she is back to educating and helping students and staff around her to practice healthy habits such as hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing, constantly.

"I'm always grateful for life but after this pandemic ... there were days I didn't even think I was going to make, so each day after I started to feel better; I appreciated life a lot better," she said.

She also said a lot of people that she has spoken with still don't believe the coronavirus is serious.

"It's nothing like the flu from my experience," Williams said.

She also believes a common misconception is masks don't work.

"As a nurse I have worn masks for years when dealing with contagious illnesses," she said. "Masks work, and save lives."

However, Williams wants to work sending a positive message to those who are suffering from COVID-19.

"Hang in there, I myself went through it," she said. "It can't last forever and all we have is the hope that tomorrow is a better day."

This article originally appeared on the Deer Park-North Babylon Patch