‘It changed me.’ A nurse recalls her experience with COVID-19 and thanks the other frontline providers who saved her life

Great State

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Elizabeth Maynard thought she had a sinus infection at first.

“I thought I could fight it off,” she says.

But the hallway of her illness kept getting longer and darker.

She recalls, “My oxygen levels were going down.”

A week later she was checked in at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center and wheeled into the intermediate COVID-19 ward on the hospital’s fifth floor.

Maynard says, “The second day in the hospital, they came back and told me, ‘Yes’. It was COVID.”

Dr. David Dwuma saw her first, as did RN Hanna Pfister.

“She was having shortness of breath,” says Dr. Dwuma. “What I remember from her was her eyes. I could see that she was afraid.”

Elizabeth continues, “You become so foggy in the brain, and once that oxygen was taken off, I couldn’t even make it to the restroom.”

Maynard was to spend the next nine days inside this rarely seen quarantined area.

Nurses and doctors are almost always fully dressed in protective gear.

No visitors allowed.

A continuous feed of oxygen remained one of her only lifelines.

“You just know that you feel awful,” she says.

So how did she make it back to her office?

What was the razor’s edge between being put on a ventilator or recovering as she did?

Both Dr. Dwuma and Maynard herself credit the medicine they had on hand to quickly treat her.

More importantly, she credits the tender care people like Dwuma and Pfister provided with no other visitors allowed in.

Pfister offers, “For me, I always try to think, ‘If this were my mom or if this were me in this position, what is the care or what do I need in this specific moment?'”

Dwuma says, “Every time I went in there, I kept telling her that she was going to be okay.”

We spoke with Elizabeth on her second day back to work, her first in a brand new doctor’s office at Total Healthcare Partners.

In a peaceful garden five floors down from their COVID ward, a small part of this medical team allows themselves a quick break and one firm embrace from a distance for a job well done.

“It changed me,” says Elizabeth. “I hope that I can give that much grace to strangers.”

Dwuma says, “When we hear back from patients, it’s always very, very rewarding.”

Maynard is a practicing nurse. Her mother was a nurse, and her daughter is a nurse.

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