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"I had COVID-19, too": Pleasant Prairie woman becomes disease investigator nurse after 88 days with the virus

Posted at 10:10 PM, Jul 09, 2020

PLEASANT PRAIRIE — A Pleasant Prairie woman is working to track and stop the spread of COVID-19 in her community after surviving 88 days with the virus.

Elaine Rudnick felt sick back in March. She said it started off with sore throat and fatigue, and she said she got a COVID-19 test to put her mind at ease. The 26-year-old was a home health nurse at the time and was able to get tested.

Elaine tested positive, and her husband was presumed positive. Elaine says she was shocked but never expected what came next.

“We had to quarantine for 88 days because our symptoms would not let up,” Elaine said.

For weeks, their symptoms came and went—fever, aches, and shortness of breath.

“I was doing a nebulizer, like, five times a day, inhalers, I was taking pain medications for the body pain and the headaches,” Elaine said.

They went to the emergency room multiple times. Elaine has asthma and struggled to breathe.

“It was very scary,” Elaine said. “I thought I was going to die at some of the points I was so short of breath.”

The Rudnicks got help from their family, friends, and church community. Elaine says a neighbor cooked for them every day. She said the duration of her symptoms seemed to baffle her doctors.

“Even our doctors some of our doctors were like, you shouldn’t still be sick,” Elaine said. “So we were a mystery.”

Finally, after a few months, Elaine tested negative twice. She and her husband are back to work—from home. Elaine’s experience changed her—so much that she’s now working as a contact tracer for the Kenosha County Health Department. She says her own contact tracer inspired her.

“She was so awesome,” Elaine said. “She helped my husband and I feel so not alone and so comforted, and if I could be that to somebody else, I would love that.”

In the meantime, it breaks her heart when she sees people not wearing masks—especially young people. She says she wouldn’t wish what she went through on anyone.

She says she’ll never know for sure how she and her husband got sick, but doctors believe she got it from community spread. She even worries she could get sick again because she says tests show she does not have antibodies for the virus.

Still, she is determined to help save others from the virus through her role as a contact tracer. She shares her story with the people she has to call and tries to give them a little hope.

“Even through the phone you hear their comfort and I think that makes a big difference,” Elaine said.

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