LUBBOCK, Texas — For the Noahs, serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic is a family affair.
Carisa Noah is the nurse manager in the family medicine clinic at TTUHSC, and her husband, Joseph Noah, is a paramedic. Both have spent the better part of a year taking care of coronavirus patients until the same virus they were fighting put them in the hospital at the same time, even on the same floor.
“You’re scared, you’re worried … I began thinking, ‘What’s wrong with me? There’s something going on,'” Carisa Noah said of her first symptoms.
In early October, Joseph tested positive for the virus, and at first, his symptoms were mild. Out of an abundance of caution, Carisa and their two young children also got tested for the virus. While Carisa and her daughter tested negative, their 5-year-old son also tested positive for COVID-19.
Later that week, Carisa said she started experiencing symptoms including fatigue, body aches, coughing and high fever as her husband and son seemed to be overcoming the virus with minimal challenges. However, just as her husband looked on the mend, his health took a turn for the worse.
“He woke up in the middle of the night one night in severe abdominal pain, so much that he couldn’t take the pain any longer and drove himself to the emergency room,” Carisa said.
Doctors determined that Joseph had developed pancreatitis as a result of the virus. Days later, Carisa’s health took a sharp, negative turn too.
“I was trying to get the kids out of the bathtub, and I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t finish my sentences, and my husband actually called an ambulance for me from his hospital room,” Carisa said.
She was admitted to the same hospital and even the same floor as her husband — her room just a few doors down from his. When doctors tested her for COVID-19, to her surprise, the test came back negative. It was only after doctors performed a CAT Scan and a respiratory panel that her COVID-19 diagnosis was confirmed.
A nurse turned patient, she spent the next six days with breathing tubes in a hospital bed, being treated by the same unit for which she worked.
“[It was] a very vulnerable position to be in certainly. I definitely consider myself a caregiver not necessarily a care receiver,” Carisa joked.
Both she and her husband recovered and were released. Their son overcame the virus without any complications, and their 12-year-old daughter managed to avoid catching it from the three other members of her family who weren’t so lucky.
Carisa said both she and her husband are doing great and are now back to work. She just celebrated a month of being back on the front lines.
Now, she added, she shares her story with the COVID-19 patients she’s currently treating, hoping to encourage them and remind them that they’re not alone.
“I do hope it helps them to know I’ve fought my own battle too, and I’m here to support you through your battle,” Carisa said.