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Teacher still recovering year after COVID-19 nearly killed her

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A Mississippi woman survived COVID-19 and has spent the past year recovering from the effects of the virus.”I remember coming to and my mom was there. She would sing hymns to me from the hymnal, and that’s when I knew that it wasn’t fake,” Julie Collier said.After six weeks on a ventilator, that’s how Collier woke up.”I remember bits and pieces for a week, and then I don’t remember anything until March 14,” Collier said.On Feb. 3, 2021, doctors admitted Collier to the St. Dominic intensive care unit in Jackson. She knew she had COVID-19. She could barely breathe. Collier remembers waiting 11 hours on the floor of the swamped emergency room.”I was all alone. It was very scary, and finally, I grabbed somebody and said, ‘You have got to bring me some oxygen or something,’ because I was scared to death,” Collier said.She was scared for herself and her son. Collier is a single mother and her son Wyatt was just 14. “Everybody else I knew who got COVID got over it, but the day she went in the hospital, I was like, ‘This is bad,'” Wyatt said.It got worse. Within days, Collier was on life support.”My oxygen went so low that the only way I was going to survive is if I was put on a drip and sedated and put on a vent so I wouldn’t move while they gave me oxygen and helped me breathe,” she said.Collier said doctors tried to take her off the ventilator after three weeks, but she crashed.”There was one point when they called my parents and said, ‘You need to see your daughter.’ And they brought me my son. They said, ‘We don’t think she’s going to make it,'” Collier said. “I had a lot of people praying for me, and that’s the only reason I think I’m still here.”But then, Collier had to overcome the devastating toll the virus had taken on her body.”I thought the linens on the bed weighed a lot. But that was just me not being able to lift anything. It was a regular sheet,” she said.Collier was used to standing all day teaching. Now, she couldn’t stand at all, much less walk. She couldn’t feel her left arm. Physical therapy began slowly.”The first thing I ever did was sit up. It was very hard. I got very dizzy,” she said.Collier spent 18 hours a week in therapy. Standing was a huge milestone. Her therapists helped her retrain her body and build up the strength to reach her goal: getting back home to her son and teaching.In late May, Collier came home.”I had three friends who took over my whole life. They took care of my house, my dog, everything,” she said.Her son went to live with one of Collier’s friends while she recovered.”These are things you can’t pay back,” she said.Collier is back in the classroom now, but she’s still dealing with nerve damage in her arm and feet.”I think I’m probably 80% of how I was before,” she said.But even as her recovery continues, Collier said she knows she will never be quite the same. “My faith is stronger now. It is so much deeper. I see God in every part of what happened,” Collier said. “I’m beyond thankful to be here.”

A Mississippi woman survived COVID-19 and has spent the past year recovering from the effects of the virus.

“I remember coming to and my mom was there. She would sing hymns to me from the hymnal, and that’s when I knew that it wasn’t fake,” Julie Collier said.

After six weeks on a ventilator, that’s how Collier woke up.

“I remember bits and pieces for a week, and then I don’t remember anything until March 14,” Collier said.

On Feb. 3, 2021, doctors admitted Collier to the St. Dominic intensive care unit in Jackson. She knew she had COVID-19. She could barely breathe. Collier remembers waiting 11 hours on the floor of the swamped emergency room.

“I was all alone. It was very scary, and finally, I grabbed somebody and said, ‘You have got to bring me some oxygen or something,’ because I was scared to death,” Collier said.

She was scared for herself and her son. Collier is a single mother and her son Wyatt was just 14.

“Everybody else I knew who got COVID got over it, but the day she went in the hospital, I was like, ‘This is bad,'” Wyatt said.

It got worse. Within days, Collier was on life support.

“My oxygen went so low that the only way I was going to survive is if I was put on a drip and sedated and put on a vent so I wouldn’t move while they gave me oxygen and helped me breathe,” she said.

Collier said doctors tried to take her off the ventilator after three weeks, but she crashed.

“There was one point when they called my parents and said, ‘You need to see your daughter.’ And they brought me my son. They said, ‘We don’t think she’s going to make it,'” Collier said. “I had a lot of people praying for me, and that’s the only reason I think I’m still here.”

But then, Collier had to overcome the devastating toll the virus had taken on her body.

julie collier

“I thought the linens on the bed weighed a lot. But that was just me not being able to lift anything. It was a regular sheet,” she said.

Collier was used to standing all day teaching. Now, she couldn’t stand at all, much less walk. She couldn’t feel her left arm. Physical therapy began slowly.

“The first thing I ever did was sit up. It was very hard. I got very dizzy,” she said.

Collier spent 18 hours a week in therapy. Standing was a huge milestone. Her therapists helped her retrain her body and build up the strength to reach her goal: getting back home to her son and teaching.

In late May, Collier came home.

julie collier

“I had three friends who took over my whole life. They took care of my house, my dog, everything,” she said.

Her son went to live with one of Collier’s friends while she recovered.

“These are things you can’t pay back,” she said.

Collier is back in the classroom now, but she’s still dealing with nerve damage in her arm and feet.

“I think I’m probably 80% of how I was before,” she said.

But even as her recovery continues, Collier said she knows she will never be quite the same.

“My faith is stronger now. It is so much deeper. I see God in every part of what happened,” Collier said. “I’m beyond thankful to be here.”



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