coronavirus in illinois

Suburban Woman Shares Details About Her Fight With Coronavirus

The former nurse tested positive for the disease over the weekend

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A suburban woman is speaking out about her ongoing battle with the coronavirus, saying that she wants to help dispel misconceptions about the virus.

“My main goal is to help people chill out a bit from the panic,” she said.

Speaking from her bedroom in suburban Wilmette, 43-year-old Jennie Novakovic said that her symptoms started out very simple on that fateful evening a week and a half ago. Last Sunday evening, Novakovic noticed what she described as “a little bit of chest pressure,” but things quickly got worse from there.

“By Tuesday morning I woke up not feeling good at all,” she said. “By the late afternoon, I had severe headaches and body aches. I had a fever and chills as well.”

The next day, the chest pressure continued to worsen.

“It would burn to inhale,” she said.

Her husband, a surgeon at North Shore University Health System in Evanston, suggested his wife be tested for COVID-19.

“My fevers were like a hundred something,” she said. “They weren’t crazy high, but the severe body and headaches were the worst thing I’d ever felt. I tried Tylenol, I tried taking a bath, and nothing would work.”

After she was tested, Novakovic received her positive test results on Saturday. Her husband was also tested, but tested negative for the virus.

The worst part of the ordeal wasn’t the fever, which left her “trembling under the covers with awful aches,” but the isolation from everyone around her.

“It was really isolating,” she said. “That was the worst. Feeling so awful by yourself.”

Now Novakovic feels she has turned a corner, but she is not out of the woods yet. She’ll spend at least the next several days still in isolation, but she says texts from her friends, and love from her cat Milo, has helped to keep her spirits up.

“My cat has been my best friend,” she said. “I’ve gotten so many texts. I think that’s what got me through that week.”

Her sons also helped, with one of her boys routinely playing her songs on the guitar from behind a closed door.

“I haven’t seen them since Tuesday,” she said.

Novakovic has a message for those concerned that they have the virus.

“I completely understand the need for confirmation, but I (would emphasize) how important it is that they just stay home and ride it out so the medical supplies can be saved for the healthcare team that is going to desperately need them in the next few weeks,” she said.

Aside from spending time with her children after her recovery is complete, the former nurse says she might go back to work, helping first responders and medical professionals cope with the crisis.

“Now that I’m immune, why would I not come back?” she asked.  

It remains unclear if those who survive the virus can be reinfected, but Novakovic wouldn't be alone in her quest to help.

Hundreds of healthcare workers reached out to Illinois officials after Gov. J.B. Pritzker asked those who had recently retired or left the field to return to the fight against the deadly coronavirus, the governor says.

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