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Thankful For Love, Great Nurses, And Remdesivir: A Front Line RN Recuperates From COVID-19

Provided by Tracy Arthur

COVID-19 cases are at record highs across the country. And no one knows that more than the doctors, nurses, and other health care workers on the front lines. And many – like Tracy Arthur – have also become infected with the novel coronavirus. This story hits close to home for KLCC’s Brian Bull, who’s Arthur’s brother. He talked to her about her ordeal with COVID-19, which led to her hospitalization recently in a Texas hospital. Arthur described when she realized something wasn't quite right.

Tracy:  The last time I worked was on Halloween night, and I picked up an extra shift.  I was working, and I kind of felt run down, but I was working a lot. I believe that last week that I worked, I had something like 60 hours in.  I was just overworked, maybe catching a mild cold.  Going into the pandemic, I already knew that I was high risk.  In the 19 years I’ve been a nurse, I’ve had pneumonia eight times (sniffs).

Credit Provided by Tracy Arthur
Tracy Arthur, traveling RN, in her hospital scrubs.

So anyways I was at work and I started having really sharp abdominal pains…that’s how it started with me. And just feeling run down. So I finished my shift and went to the ER.  They COVID swabbed me, and I also got tested for Influenza A and B, and also for strep. 

And they did a chest x-ray at the time.  And my chest x-ray was clear, my strep was negative, my influenza A and B were negative. (Laughs) I didn’t really think I had COVID. 

And a couple days later they called me with the results and I was shocked, I was really shocked that I had it.

Credit NIH / Flickr.com/U.S. Govt Work/Public Domain
Flickr.com/U.S. Govt Work/Public Domain
Novel coronavirus.

Brian: When you were undergoing the worst of COVID, were you conscious and aware of your surroundings the entire time?

Tracy: I did lots of sleeping. Looking back that first week and a half, it was just a blur.

Brian: Were there sometimes dreams or hallucinations, or other surreal moments while you had COVID?

Tracy:  I had one weird dream and that was it.  I was kind of worried about that part.  Because since the pandemic started, when I had gotten my first COVID patient, that was something that a lot of them had in common.  They just had these really ghoulish nightmares, and a lot of times they couldn’t even tell if they were asleep or awake while they were having these nightmares and hallucinations. A lot of patients, I would just sit in their room with them because they were so frightened of these hallucinations and nightmares that they were having.  I didn’t really experience that.

Brian:  Just a weird dream. Do you remember anything about that dream?

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Bigfoot checking luggage at a Redmond airport.

Tracy: (laughs) Yes, in my dream, me and my youngest son, we were driving along in the mountains in a pickup truck, and we saw Bigfoot. He was just standing on the side of the road, watching us drive by.  It was weird. (laughs, coughs)

Brian:  At one point you were very upset when the hospital in Texas wanted to discharge you.  Why were you upset? 

Tracy:   Yes, so I had just gotten my fourth dose of Remdisivir, so the day shift charge nurse came in and she told me that I was going to be discharged after my fourth dose. And I told her no, I said “the FDA recommends five doses.” And she said, “Well now they recommend four.”  I’ve kept up on my treatment and the recommendations that the CDC puts forth.

I feel they were trying to discharge me because they needed that hospital bed. And I told her no, that I would not leave until I received my fifth dose, and I insisted on it.
So then they send a doctor to talk to me, he did confirm that the FDA does recommend five doses but it did get to a point where I had to call the patient care representative and voice my concerns. And I did get my fifth dose of Remdisivir.

Credit Bull/Arthur family photo
A family photo from the early 1970s shows Tracy Arthur and her baby brother, Brian Bull.

Brian:  Now having survived COVID-19, has this experience changed your outlook on life at all?

Tracy:  Yes it has.  I’m really anxious to get back home to my family. I really miss my kids and grandchildren.  (coughs) It also really made me grateful for the good nurses that I had.  Nurses that took care of me that were just outstanding nurses.

When I go back to work I need to maybe check on my patients a little more, make sure they’re comfortable.  Make sure that they have stuff that they need.   It just made me want to be a better nurse.

Credit Provided by Tracy Arthur.
Tracy Arthur and several other nurses working together on the Navajo Reservation in April 2020.
Brian:  Well Tracy, I’m so glad you’re alive and on the mend.  And your whole family and I are proud of you, as is the Nez Perce Tribe. 

Thanks to everything that you and frontline health care workers have done during this pandemic.  Be well, keep doing great work, and I love you. Happy Thanksgiving!


  Aw, thank you too.  I love you too, Brian.  And happy Thanksgiving! (laughs)

Note: To hear an extended interview with Tracy Arthur and KLCC's Brian Bull, click here.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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