It started as a cough last Tuesday, March 17. At first, Cleveland resident LaNora Purvis brushed it off to her normal seasonal allergies, stirred up by tree pollen, but by Saturday, it was confirmed that she was Liberty County’s first case of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
“We had all the doors and windows open at the house last week. We were watching Bible teachings together with the women in the house,” said Purvis, who operates Heaven’s Army Home of Amazing Grace, a one-year residential women’s discipleship program.
On Wednesday, Purvis said she taking the ladies in her program to volunteer at a local food pantry in Cleveland when she started feeling worse.
“I haven’t been to a doctor in 17 years. I am never sick,” she said. “I ran into Walmart to grab a thermometer just to see if I had a temperature. It was normal. After I picked up the ladies at the food bank after they volunteered, I mentioned to them that I wasn’t feeling well and was going home to take a nap.”
When she awoke a couple of hours later, her temperature had risen to 103 degrees Fahrenheit and she was achy all over.
“I called Mrs. Patti (Foster at Emergency Hospital Systems in Cleveland) and she told me to get to the hospital right away. I didn’t want to overreact. I thought there was something I could do at home but I listened to her. She had everyone waiting on me when I got there,” Purvis said. “Every test they ran on me came back negative. They said they were going to test me for Coronavirus and I was like, ‘Really? You think I have that?'”
With no immediate results available for the Coronavirus test, Purvis was sent home with orders to stay isolated and in bed with prescription-strength cough syrup, Pedialyte, lemon tea and water. On Saturday, after days of feeling flu-like symptoms, the test result showed she was positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19).
As one of the rare people on the planet who has never had flu, Purvis said she wasn’t sure what to expect. She recalls feeling aches and pains, much like had been described to her for a person suffering from the flu.
“My body was hurting so badly. I was lying there crying. Even when I didn’t have a fever, my body ached. It hurt to even walk,” she said.
She followed her doctor’s instructions through the weekend, staying isolated from everyone in her house, except for her husband, who was acting as her nurse.
By Monday, March 23, the symptoms of the illness had disappeared. Purvis said she will remain isolated from the rest of the household for a couple more days before she can resume her normal activities.
“I have to go three days without any symptoms,” she said.
As a person with a healthy lifestyle and diet, with no smoking or drinking, Purvis believes this gave her an advantage over elderly people and those with compromised immune systems. Still, she says the illness cannot be taken lightly or dismissed.
“I am doing everything I can to try to avoid the spread of this illness. We are using Germ-X and wiping everything down,” she said.
On Saturday night, when her diagnosis was confirmed, Purvis took to Facebook to share her recent movements in the event that someone had come into contact with her in the days when she may have been contagious.
“As soon as I got the results, I immediately posted that I had it. I felt like it wasn’t about me at that point. It wasn’t about what I felt. I needed people to know the illness is real and I got it somewhere. I don’t know where,” she said. “I was just like every other person going about my everyday activities and doing my everyday things. This could happen to anyone. I didn’t want to hide anything. I am an open book.”
She wants people to know that the illness is not an automatic death sentence but it is serious and painful. As a follower of Christ, she believes God still has things for her to do.
“Fear wasn’t an option for me. I don’t have the spirit of fear. God has called me to do so much more. The enemy tried to slow me down and I wasn’t going to let that happen. That’s just where my beliefs are,” she said.
Purvis is grateful for the outpouring of support she received through text and Facebook messages. She said they buoyed her spirit when she was feeling down.
“I am grateful to the community for the prayers and support they have shown. That kept me going. I read the encouraging words and was so happy,” she said. “When we go about doing our everyday things in life, you don’t always realize the impact you make on people’s lives. I want to say thank you to everyone for supporting and encouraging me.”