Robert Ferguson, Part 1

Everyone has a story to tell, this is my story.

First of all, I want to say thank you for inviting me to this interview. It’s nice to be here. I want to share my story. My name is Robert. This is my story of how I overcame COVID-19.

I went out of town, out of state, for a workshop on emergency partnership management. This was the first night I didn’t feel well. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was very sick. My back hurt, my ears hurt, and I had body and fever chills. Inside, I thought if I can just manage it all, get through the day, and that this was just a 24-hour flu bug (either be that or it could be something like the 7-day flu.)

In the morning, I still didn’t feel well. I tried to remain positive, knowing that God will take care of me. So I drove back home from the conference, yet I still felt terrible. I decided to drop everything that I had going on and just go to bed and get some needed rest. The next morning, I woke up and felt somewhat better. I thought it must have been a 24-hour flu bug. I remember being very thankful at that time that it wasn’t something more serious. I went to work. About noon, two friends asked if I’d like to go out to lunch with them. It had been a while since we had seen each other, and I thought it would be a perfect time to catch up. We all went out to eat, but I remember not feeling well. I felt like I was developing a fever and body chills. I thought, “oh-no, my flu bug has come back again.” I went about my day, just trying to get through it, but when I arrived back to work, I felt worse. I decided to call my boss and take the rest of the day off. Immediately I went home and (my boss was just fine sending me home) went right to bed, thinking that If I just get some sleep, I would regain my energy and strength. But that’s not what happened. A high fever spiked. I had chills and was shaking (different bodies react differently.)

For the next three days, I was miserable with a temperature over 102. I was struggling with different aches and pains. One minute, I was hot and the next minute, cold. It was awful. I decided I needed to pray and meditate with God. I tried to overcome my high fever on my own. I thought that it was a 7-day flu with all the same symptoms normal for the flu. Never once in the earlier stages did I think I had COVID-19. However, two days later, I got a call from the friends that I had gone out to eat with, and they told me that they were sick also. I was pretty surprised that they were sick as well. They had already visited the E.R. and Urgent Care and had taken a test to see if they were positive for COVID-19.

Honestly, I was in shock, and my mind was all over the place, contemplating the worst scenarios possible. My mind was plagued with the thought that I might have COVID-19. I prayed to God and asked Him that if I had COVID-19, He would show me some way I could overcome it quickly, with His help. I imagined all the worst things possible at that moment. I thought about telling my mom that my two friends had COVID-19, and if they had it, did it mean that I had it too? My fear and anxiety was immense from all the unknowns. My friends told me that I’d better get tested. Finally, I agreed and went to the E.R. Well, I can tell you that that day made a huge difference. When I arrived at the E.R., I immediately told them that I suspected I had COVID-19. Their reaction was priceless – everyone backed away at the same time, seriously, everyone, all at the same time, moved away from me! It was interesting. My race didn’t matter, my religion, who I am, nothing mattered except COVID-19 – not my Deafness, or even the ability to hear, nothing mattered except the virus. A new virus that held very little information. People were in fear of dying if they were around someone who had it. Everyone was in a state of panic.

That’s when I felt alone.

And I felt that way the whole day. Finally, the doctor motioned to me. They were ready for me. They placed me in a special room set up exclusively for COVID-19 patients. The doctors and staff were equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Because of all the gear, I felt lost. Their equipment was extensive, covering their face and mouth, I couldn’t make out anything. As a Deaf man, I am used to seeing expressions and mouth movements as clues for communication. At that time, I didn’t have any access to language and felt helpless.

A Virtual Remote Interpreter on a computer screen was set up, but the hospital kept it at such a distance, just outside my room, that it was difficult for me to see, understand, and respond. The doctor examined me and asked thorough questions relating to COVID-19, such as shortness of breath, fever, and other CDC guidelines related to Corona. When they ran through the list, I had many of the symptoms listed! They provided the CDC’s website information and regulations on COVID-19 and the next steps. I tried to remain positive as I thought about everything I would be going through.

Next, it was time for me to be tested for COVID-19. Let me tell you. It was crazy! The swab that they used to gather my DNA went into my nose and back into my sinuses and throat! I cried and cried. Imagine a “real-man” like me who doesn’t often cry. Well, that day I did cry! Seriously, even my legs were shaking from the pain. And then they pulled out the swab. Now, I expected that it would be more like a quick “push and pull” situation, but it was more like slow torture, and I felt it burning as they slowly pulled out the swab. It wasn’t just once, and they did it on the other side using the same method. I cried like a baby from the pain. It hurt so badly. Through it all, I had a terrible persistent cough, and my body felt weak. So, the doctor told me that my test would be sent to the lab and that my results would come back in about 24 hours. They told me that they could give me medicine to help reduce some coughing, but there wasn’t a whole lot they could do, period. So they sent me home.

I remember I didn’t have any fight left in me. Only anxiety. Only fear. In that darkest moment, I felt the most lost. That’s when I forgot about God. I did. Then, I picked myself back up again. I stopped allowing fear to invade my mind and my spirit.

I got on my knees and prayed to God to help me.

I knew that I would walk through dark times, but I also knew that God was always with me.

He is a light that shines through the darkness, providing the way.

He gives me strength when I am weak, just like the Bible reference Philippians 4:13,

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

That verse moved me. That Scripture gave me the strength to know that I can get through this dark time. It gave me a sense of peace, even though my mind still wandered into the unknown. 

There was nothing more to do except wait until 24 hours passed to get the results. Finally, I received the email stating that I tested positive for COVID-19. That was such a tough moment for me. I cried.

Watch Part 2 in our two-part series.

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