My COVID-19 Story: Emily Jackson

After recovering from the new coronavirus, a nursing director shares her journey and the lessons she's learned.

Emily Jackson, a director of nursing in the Division of Medicine and Neurosciences at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early March, as a growing wave of patients arrived at the hospital’s doorsteps. Sick and suddenly under quarantine, Emily was anxious to get back to work to support her team, but she knew it was vital to stay home so she wouldn’t infect others. Here, she shares her journey back to health and the most important lesson she learned.

It started as a cough and a low-grade fever, and it soon progressed to chills and body aches. There were two or three days when I was scared, not knowing if it would progress to worsening symptoms. But by the fourth day, I started feeling better, which was a huge relief. Honestly, when my test came back positive for COVID-19, I was a bit relieved. At that point, I was beginning to feel better, and I knew I was going to be OK. Still, I was shocked at how tired and lethargic I was for some time afterward. The shortness of breath and fatigue lasted for a couple of weeks, but I was on the mend.

Then, like most people in quarantine, I started to get bored and restless. Mainly I just wanted to return to work to support my team. As a director of nursing, my job is to take care of front-line staff and make sure they have the supplies and support they need to take the best possible care of our patients. I stayed in touch with my team by phone and email and could not wait to get back to work, knowing that I could be more effective in the hospital. However, it was important to me to not infect anyone else and follow the quarantine timeline.

I now feel completely recovered, and I’m back to my baseline energy levels. If I have one message to share, it is this: If you do get sick, take the time to rest and recover. Do not be discouraged if it takes longer to feel better after this illness than any other time you’ve been sick. This is a new virus to humans, and your body is figuring out how to handle it. Rest and allow yourself the time to get better. If you do end up needing the hospital’s services, we are here to take amazing care of you and will do our best to get you back home safely!