By Dena Vang
Antoinette Patterson didn’t think boarding a plane on Feb. 29, 2020, would impact her life the way that it did. She took the stage during the Voices of COVID panel discussion at the W Cobb NMA Institute Stay Well Community Health Fair and Vaccine event in Baton Rouge to share her testimony.
“I am a COVID survivor. I am a COVID long hauler. But I am here because of God’s goodness, his grace, and his mercy. Thank you, Jesus. While I am here, I probably should not have been here. My COVID story began around March 8, 2020. I was one of the very first in the country and one of the first in Louisiana to be diagnosed with COVID-19.”
Patterson shared that while COVID did cross her mind during that time, the virus did not seem to be of concern. Upon returning to Louisiana, Patterson experienced fatigue and a fever and made the decision to visit an urgent care where she requested a COVID test. But tests were yet to be widely available in the United States. It wasn’t until 13 days later that Patterson was tested for COVID.
“I am one of those people that had a positive COVID diagnosis for over 3 weeks… While I had COVID I began to experience many different illnesses. COVID attacked my heart and it also attacked my mind. COVID is a moving virus throughout your body. Literally a person experiencing COVID in an extreme state can feel COVID move throughout their body,” she shared. “But the biggest part was my heart was malfunctioning. I now was put on a heart monitor. I had to be monitored by a telephone by my cardiologist. At any moment, I could go into heart failure. They did not know what was going on with my heart. My heart palpitated so quickly that even touching my chest was very sensitive. I passed out twice and almost died.”
The road to recovery was both a physical and a spiritual battle for Patterson, who credits much of her healing to her faith in God.
“I don’t want anyone to take COVID lightly because I not only had COVID, but I also became a COVID long hauler. Every day from March 8, 2020, to January 30, 2021, I was sick,” said Patterson. “My prayer began to be ‘God, please don’t let me die.’ I pushed and I moved on and I did all those things that seem to be normal in the sight of man. But I knew it was the supernatural strength in God that I was still alive because many days I was very very very ill. It affected my family. It put my family in worry. At the time that I had COVID there was no vaccine.”
Patterson, who has received the vaccine, is encouraging families to also get the shot.
“Some people say COVID isn’t that serious. It’s okay, you’ll have a minor sniffle, you’ll just have a cold. That’s not true for everyone,” she said. “Do not take it lightly. While some again only had the sniffles and a headache and fatigue, some people have died that you know, and I know. We want to prevent death, that’s why we’re here today. We want you to be an advocate for life today. How can you be an advocate for life? Get vaccinated.”
Patterson’s story was one of many that were shared at the Baton Rouge Cobb NMA Institute Stay Well Community Health Fair and Vaccine event. Medical professionals, elected officials, and community members gathered at Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church for panel discussions, COVID vaccinations and health screenings. The event also brought together several local organizations in support of vaccinations in the Black community. 185 vaccinations for adults were administered and 135 vaccinations for children were administered.
COVID vaccines are free and available for those ages 5 and older. To find a vaccine site, search vaccines.gov, text your ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find locations near you.
To view all panel discussions, visit the Stay Well Community Health Fairs Facebook page.