On Friday, Sept. 11, Heidi Newlin of Cherokee, Oklahoma, woke up with a fever and bad headache behind her eyes. She eventually tested positive for COVID-19.

INTEGRIS Bass Baptist Health Center

Cherokee Woman Survives COVID-19

On Friday, Sept. 11, Heidi Newlin of Cherokee, Oklahoma, woke up with a fever and bad headache behind her eyes. With talk of COVID-19 on every news channel, in every café and in every newspaper, her mind naturally went to the possibility that she had contracted the virus. She couldn’t pinpoint where, however.

On Monday, Newlin went to see her primary care provider, Niki Lewis-Wyatt, P.A.-C, to be tested. She was prescribed an antibiotic that day and began taking it immediately while she waited for her results. Two days later, the results came back. She was positive for COVID-19.

Newlin’s symptoms began improving immediately after starting the antibiotic. It seemed she might be one of the lucky ones who survive COVID mostly unscathed. She wasn’t completely without symptoms, though. She did lose her sense of smell and taste, along with her appetite, and she had low energy. 

After being sick for a week, however, more concerning symptoms began to develop. 

“It moved into the stomach flu phase of my illness,” she said. “I had all of the symptoms of the intestinal flu. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my life.”
After several days of pain and not eating or drinking, she decided it was time to go to the hospital. 

“Even though I was taking more medicine, I did not believe I would improve without some medical intervention,” she said. “I was terribly dehydrated.”

On Sept. 22, her husband, David, drove her to Enid. After examination in the INTEGRIS Bass Baptist Health Center Emergency Department, she was admitted. A second COVID-19 test was administered, and she was still positive for the virus. She was now 11 days past the initial onset. Her husband also tested positive for the virus so was not able to visit her. Newlin stayed in touch with friends and family during her hospital stay via her cell phone.  

Newlin was correct. Quick medical intervention had her feeling better in no time. It looked like she was out of the woods. Unfortunately, COVID-19 had other plans. On Thursday, Sept. 24, she could add atrial fibrillation to her list of symptoms.  Atrial fibrillation, commonly known as A-fib, is an irregular heartbeat caused by an abnormal heart rhythm that makes the upper heart chambers quiver.

Newlin was hooked up to a monitor when her heart went into A-fib and alerted her medical team. 

“My nurse, Donna Gering, came flying into my room with her superhero cape (gown) on backward and saved the day,” Newlin said. “I believe the heart problems were already there, but now we had evidence on record. God had the best plan for me!”

Once her A-fib was under control and her other symptom stable, Newlin was released from the hospital. That was September 26.

Throughout her stay at INTEGRIS Health, Newlin witnessed several examples of caregivers graciously serving others, she said.

“The actions of the staff were very deliberate, well-planned out and well-executed,” she said, “even though their ‘virus armor’ made their work even more challenging. They were not stand-offish or distant. They delivered warm, wonderful, personalized care and did not hesitate to go out of their way to meet my patient or personal needs. They served me with a smile and kindness.”

Like so many others, Newlin is ready for life to get back to normal again. She would love to be able to see her family and show them love. She wants to console people who have suffered losses. 

“I would love to celebrate marriages and births without the shadow of the virus looming overhead,” she said. “And take part in activities. I hope to celebrate the holidays with my family.”

Newlin said she wants to share her COVID-19 experience so that others can see that it’s a real virus that affects people differently.

“Some people may experience light symptoms. Other people suffer the more serious strain of the virus, which includes breathing problems,” she said. “Please, be considerate and
respectful to family members, friends and community members as you go through your day. Please, wear a mask and wash your hands to protect yourself and people with whom you may come in contact. It will take each one of us to beat this as a community.”

Finally, Newlin would like to thank her primary care provider Niki Lewis-Wyatt, INTEGRIS Health Cardiologist John Schrader, M.D., and INTEGRIS Bass Hospitalist Best Chen, M.D., as well as all her caregivers at the hospital.

“Each and every one of them gave me top-quality care in the midst of this nasty virus,” she said. “I want to thank them for the sacrifices they are making to improve the lives of their patients. May they and their families be protected from the virus as they continue to battle on the frontlines.”

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