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Young, healthy Southern Illinois woman recounts painful battle with COVID-19 | State and Regional


“I honestly, when I left them that day, it was scary, because I’m thinking in the back of my mind, I may never see them again,” she recalled.

After getting into her car, away from where her kids could see her, Kehrer broke down.

“Because at this point, I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I felt absolutely miserable. I knew how bad I felt, and feeling bad is one thing, but if you feel bad and like you’re drowning in air, like you can’t breathe and you’re suffocating just sitting there, it’s a feeling you can’t really explain. It was weird. No matter how deep you breathe, you can’t get enough air.

“Then the anxiety kicks in, and I’m crying because the kids are worried. I sat in the driveway for five minutes before I finally said to myself, ‘Ok, Carrie, pull it together and get yourself to the hospital.’”

Upon arrival, Kehrer said she was taken to a special room and underwent a battery of tests. Her blood oxygen levels were in the low 70s percentage sitting still, and dipped into the high 60s percentage when she moved around. A reading below 92% is a red flag. She was also diagnosed with double viral pneumonia in her lungs caused by COVID-19, and had an elevated blood level indicating the potential for life-threatening blood clots.

The medical team at St. Joseph’s worked with an infectious disease specialist at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon to determine a treatment plan. A CT scan was performed on her lungs, and thankfully, Kehrer said, no blood clots were detected. At that point, she was prescribed dexamethasone, a steroid treatment, as the hospital made arrangements to have her transported via ambulance to St. Elizabeth’s for more intensive care, should she need it.

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