Coronavirus survivor shares perspective, plea for social distancing

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. – If Shawn Stephens can make it to Thursday morning, he can finally hug his family again. Stephens tested positive for COVID-19 after showing symptoms initially on March 19.

Besides three days, Stephens has self-isolated in his basement while he suffered through severe symptoms like fevers topping off at 102 to 103 degrees and painful coughs.

“I was just absolutely miserable,” Stephens recalled. “I mean, I could barely lift my head off the pillow. It felt like I had glass in my lungs.  Coughing felt like I was getting hit with shrapnel.”

Stephens described himself as a healthy adult, only battling the flu a handful of times in his life.

This was brutal.

Beginning on March 19, Stephens experienced painful symptoms for 12 days. Then, most of those subsided on days 13, 14 and 15.

Day 15 was the first time he hugged his wife and children.

“It had been three days without a fever so yay! I’m free,” Stephens remembered. “I gave my kids hugs and kisses, not on the lips or anything like that, but you know I hugged the heck out of them. It was the first time I had any contact at all with Heather, so I mean I just hugged her so tight.”

Then, his fever returned on Day 15, his fever returned.

“I cried, Heather was devastated,” Stephens said. “It was just devastating for us.”

Stephens said his doctor told him he had a moderate case of COVID-19 and he could expect to see symptoms come and go for three to six weeks. During this time, Stephens and his wife have taken questions from people during Facebook Lives on Heather’s page.

Stephens also recorded his symptoms and experiences on his Facebook page as well. He said he hopes to help provide people with information he wished he knew before all of this.

“You absolutely have to stick to the guidelines,” Stephens said. “Keep your distance, wear your mask. Stay away from everybody until this is over, and for goodness sakes, don’t touch your face!”

The Indiana State Health Department put out lots of helpful information for COVID-19 patients and caretakers. You can find that by visiting www.in.gov. The Hamilton County Health Department is also providing tools at www.hamiltoncounty.in.gov.

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