Sarah and I were in Journalism class together in Webberville back in 1992/93.

Her brother Aaron was on my football team back in 1990.

Posted with permission from Sarah Pressel Sturock on Facebook.

Hi Joey!! You can absolutely share my story. I was one of the very first “first responders” in Michigan to get sick from COVID-19 which I was exposed to by a patient I took care of. Two days after my symptoms started, my brother Aaron who is a firefighter/paramedic got symptoms as well. He too is battling this virus. It’s crazy that both of us Pressel’s that work in the field got sick at the same time. Aaron and I haven’t seen each other since summer. He’s in his camper in his driveway, and I am on the lower level of my residence. We’ve kept up with each other via text. I have kept a journal per say of everything since the onset of my symptoms. Thank you! Much love ❤️

She posted this on Saturday March 28th.

On the 4th day I was considered “gravely” ill ... Battling COVID-19 from the frontlines.

We received only a small bit of information about the virus that was getting ready to sweep across the nation. As a paramedic for 21 years, I knew how to protect myself. Well, that’s what I told myself. My partner and I started wearing N95 masks at the onset of the virus even though people in the field made fun of us at that time. I don’t think anyone is laughing now.
I came off duty at 7 am on Friday March 20. I was thrilled because it was my 4 day break, and I was planning a nice little retreat. That evening around 6:30 pm, I came down with “symptoms”. I had a fever of 101.4 and my chest was tight which made it hard to get a good deep breath. I took my first dose of MANY doses of Tylenol. I was in complete isolation and I went to bed with the mindset that I’d be better in the morning. NOPE!

On the 4th day, I took a huge turn for the worse. My fever was up to 104.6, and I knew I wasn’t getting much air into my lungs. I sought out help and medical advice. I talked to the sweetest nurse at our health department. She may have been the catalyst to getting me proper medical care. My PCP doctor called me right away, and I was sent to a designated “testing” facility. This is when it got REAL. The facility only communicated with me via text message which is when I was instructed to come to the side of the building with a mask on where a medical assistant escorted me into a room. The medical assistant tested me right away for influenza and strep throat. I waited about an hour in that little room when the doctor finally came in. She said I was negative for influenza and strep so she did an in depth physical exam on me. Only after the doctor deemed me “gravely” ill as a first responder did they do the COVID-19 test on me. The doctor said I was on the brink of hospitalization but if I felt safe, it would be better for me to manage my symptoms from home. I got oxygen and breathing treatments for home. I was maxed out on my daily Tylenol doses but my fever was out of control. There was a time that night where I absolutely could not get a breath in. I remember getting a text from my dad that said something like “If you need help, please call 911 but you need to get better because people are depending on you to work on the frontlines.” That text brought me out of my haze. I did need 911 help at that very moment but I did not want to expose my friends that were working on the ambulance.
My breathing was so shallow. For the first time, I was scared. I put my ear phones on and carefully chose my music. I thought about a time in my life where I was really happy. Now I’m not going to get the mom of the year award for admitting this but I did NOT think of the time where most women probably felt their happiest ... the birth of their children. All 3 of my children’s births were very traumatic and tragic. I’ve had 3 kids but there are only 2 in my pictures. You do the math. Although my children have been on my mind and in my sweetest thoughts throughout this experience, what I did think of was a time that brought an instant smile to my face. That was the Justin Timberlake “JT” FutureSex/LoveSounds tour. It was 2007 and that concert tour made me so happy.

At my time of need on that 4 th day, I cranked the volume up to the max and played my JT playlist. I put myself into a deep mediation just listening to that album, and I soon realized I wasn’t going to sleep that night. I did at least 10 Duo Neb breathing treatments and solely focused on my breathing. I stayed vigilant that entire night fighting to breathe on my own. Thank God for music and good memories.
I was known at the bank as the “Terminator” because I was the one chosen to terminate everyone. I was ruthless. Well, I became the ”Terminator” again this week. There was no one that really gave a shit about me except my Dad who so selflessly cared for me from afar. He brought me food and fluids. I was on the lower level of my residence so he’d leave them on a stool. I got into the mindset of “I’ve got to do this on my own this time!” I was the most focused I’ve ever been in my life probably.

As the days went on, I kept myself busy with movies and music. I stayed off social media because I knew that I didn’t want to see all the opinions and advice etc. about the virus. This kept my anxiety and fears at bay. The days have been long and very lonely.

I’m on day 9 as I type this, and this is the first day without a fever with no Tylenol. My breathing is remarkably better. I think I’m on the other side of this.

Although the physical symptoms are no joke, a big part of this is mental toughness. You have to get into a “this is war” mindset and simply focus on the task at hand which is ... fever and breathing control. Once you make up your mind that the enemy isn’t going to win, hopefully you will be able to beat this beast. Believe me. Trust my experience with “shit that has tried to take me down!”

Thank you to my Dad, Tom Pressel.
Thank you to my 2 children, Lily and Cullen Sturock.
Thank you to Lori and Vinnie Booth.
Thank you to my brother, Aaron Pressel - keep fighting brother!
Thank you to my brothers and sisters ... the group texts every day kept me somewhat sane ... who knew baby Timmy had a sense of humor and would be the first to check on everybody every morning?

And thank you to the men and women on the frontlines. I am coming back to my job as a paramedic as soon as I’m well enough and safe to deliver care to people who need me.

In the mean time, please remember all the people who do not get to be home with their families at this pivotal time because some of us have been deemed “essential” workers.

Oh and please spare me the “thank you for your service” bullshit. I’m not any different from any other person doing their best to do what is right.

Peace and love from the “NEST”!!!

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