Having recovered from COVID-19, La Crosse County woman shares story in hope of educating others

LA CROSSE COUNTY, Wis. (WKBT)– She was among the first few cases in La Crosse County and is now sharing her story of her battling COVID-19. Now that Katie Drury has recovered, she’s hoping others will learn from her experience and help to stop the spread.

Before there were any confirmed cases in the county, Drury was studying up on the new disease. As a healthcare worker, she wanted to learn more to educate herself and others– especially since there is no vaccine or cure.

But she never thought she’d contract the coronavirus.

“I felt it was really important to understand it the best that I could,” said Drury, in a Zoom interview with News 8 Now.

She didn’t immediately know that she was sick with it.

“I was able to easily equate my symptoms to common things,” Drury said.

On March 17th, she had a very slight cough. By March 20th, she some body aches. Drury thought the added stress on top of some preexisting conditions was behind it.

“I just chalked it up to that,” Drury said.

During this time, she was alerted that she may have come in contact with a case in the county.

That’s when the symptoms continued. She got a raging sinus infection, or so she thought. Drury took medication like Mucinex, but nothing worked.

“Knowing that I was having some symptoms that just were a little unusual, I thought I’d reach out to my doctor,” Drury said.

At first, healthcare workers told her to go to the emergency room to get tested. Drury was concerned that she did not have the virus and could potentially pick it up there. Staff compromised with her and was told to go to a drive-up testing site.

“It was less than 24 hours later that I received the call that I was positive for COVD-19,” Drury said.

She had to stay away from her family with her own room and bathroom for 10 days. It was then that the symptoms ramped up.

“I started to have this burning pain when I would take a big breath,” Drury said.

Shortness of breath, cough, fatigue. She has migraines in the past, but this time she could only take Tylenol, which didn’t scratch the surface.

“This was the most astounding headache I have ever had,” Drury said.

She laid there in pain.

“As you struggle to breathe you panic,” Drury said.

She was alone, without her husband or daughters. It was especially scary because her daughters are old enough to understand what is happening. They saw the news and understood the potential dangers of the disease.

“That was hard. That was really hard,” Drury said.

Drury did eventually go to the emergency room because she was struggling to breathe. Her husband was told he not allowed to come with. She would have to call him if there were any updates.

“The hallway was empty. There was nobody in the halls,” Drury said.

When staff would come to check in on her, she could hear them outside the door. As a nurse, she has previously worked with people in isolation, so she knew what the staff members were going through.

“I could hear them getting ready– putting on all their gear. There [are] lots of layers to what they have to wear,” Drury said.

Drury is one of the lucky ones. She was able to head home from the hospital.

“I took actually took a picture of my nurse and [me] on the way out,” Drury said, laughing.

Now having recovered from the disease, she’s sharing her motto with others: “Now’s the time for we, not me.” Meaning, get educated about the symptoms, how it spreads and the potential risks.

“It’s time that we work to protect each other. There’s no other way. There’s no other way,” Drury said.

She still has to be isolated in her house but can be around her family. Next week, Drury will be able to go out in public. She said she’s really looking forward to going for little walks as she gets her energy back up.