GEE AND URSULA

Local nurse recovers from COVID-19 while her husband fights to stay alive

Apr 24, 2020, 3:53 PM
COVID-19...
Tammy and Brian Edwards are avid Seahawks fans. (Photo courtesy of Tammy Edwards)
(Photo courtesy of Tammy Edwards)

A Tacoma nurse is living a nightmare. She’s at home, alone, trying to recover from COVID-19 while her husband is battling to stay alive at the hospital where she works.

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“I want people to know this virus is very real and so many people are still fighting for their lives. My husband is one of them,” Tammy Edwards said.

Edwards is a registered nurse at MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital. On the Gee and Ursula Show Friday, she described how she felt like she was getting the flu on April 6. Her body ached, she had chills and a fever, and she lost her sense of smell and taste. She took some days off work, but had to wait a few more days before she found out she tested positive for COVID-19.

By then, her husband Brian was also showing symptoms. He never lost his taste or smell, but he had gastrointestinal issues, and by day four, he was coughing nonstop. Edwards said she took him to the hospital but after getting antibiotics, he was sent home.

Last Sunday, things took a turn for the worse.

“By the time his oxygen levels dropped to the 70s, I had to call 911,” she said. “Within hours, he was intubated and on a ventilator and he’s been there ever since.”

Edwards said her husband is in critical but stable condition. It’s touch and go, but she is confident he is getting the best possible care from the staff at Tacoma General. They’ve allowed her to call in so that she can video chat with him for several hours a day.

“Even though he can’t respond, they’ve put the phone by his face,” she said. “I tell him how much he is loved and that there are so many people pulling for him.”

Edwards said she was nervous to share her story because of all the turmoil and fighting over reopening the economy. Her original Facebook post has been shared more than 20,000 times. Unfortunately, there have been some people who doubt what she’s saying, accusing her of being part of a conspiracy or a hoax.

“I’m not a crisis actor, I’m a real person. I was born and raised in Tacoma,” she said. “We can’t take pictures in the COVID unit because they’re on lock down. But our floors are full in the hospitals. There are people dying and struggling every day.”

Edwards pointed out that there is still so much that health experts don’t know about the virus, and she hopes people continue to take precautions when restrictions are lifted.

Edwards is also urging everyone who has had COVID-19 to donate plasma once it’s safe to do so. Her husband got a plasma donation from someone who had the virus. Researchers believe COVID-19 survivors have antibodies that could save up to four lives. She will be donating plasma after she is symptom free for 28 days.

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The two are avid Seahawks fans and she hopes they can go to games again in the future. A Seahawks fan group has set up a fund for the Edwards family to help offset medical and other costs, which are expected to top hundreds of thousands of dollars. But Tammy said she’s not worried about costs right now. Although it’s going to be a long road, she just wants her husband to fully recover and for others to not have to experience the pain her family has been going through.

“We all need to take a step back,” she said. “We’re going to get through this pandemic, but we have to remember it only takes one person to spread the virus to hundreds of others.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Local nurse recovers from COVID-19 while her husband fights to stay alive