Local woman shares COVID-19 journey, still in outpatient therapy one year later

VIDEO: Local woman shares COVID-19 journey

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - We are marking one year of COVID-19 in Louisiana by speaking to the first patient to be admitted with the virus at an area hospital.

We first introduced Martha Simmons back in June, that was after spending three months at Christus Ochsner St. Patrick Hospital fighting the virus.

A year after she was hospitalized in critical condition with COVID-19, Simmons is now sharing her journey encouraging others to take the situation seriously.

When Simmons was admitted to the hospital on March 15, 2020, with an active COVID-19 diagnosis, little did she know the impact it would have on her life.

”It was the simplest thing. You want to pick up something just right there, and you can’t reach it,” Simmons said.

Simmons spent three months battling the virus in a hospital setting - one of those months was on a ventilator.

”When I came off the ventilator, the nurse took a picture of me. I look at it over and over, and it doesn’t even look like me. I was just that bad off.”

Fast forward one year later, and recovery continues for the 74-year-old mother, grandmother and community matriarch.

”We would just modify sessions when we need to, but ultimately, it’s been a pretty steady trend since we first met in terms of progression. And it’s been an inspiration to me,” said Outpatient Therapist Mike Muzyczyn.

Since leaving the hospital, Simmons spends two days out of the week in outpatient therapy. Her therapist, Mike Muzyczyn, says her case is not uncommon.

”We’ve had a handful of folks who have had COVID-19 that are coming for weakness that has been associated with that illness. Ms. Simmons has definitely been the most debilitated early on that I have worked with,” Muzyczyn said.

Of course there are still some unknowns in this evolving pandemic.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize how much it takes out of a person. It’s wild how different case by case things are,” said Muzyczyn.

Simmons says she’s grateful for not only how far she’s come, but the virus as well.

”I’ve gotten both my vaccines, and I have told everybody I know. The ones who didn’t get it, I’m on their case right now.”

She says she still has a ways to go, but she credits the outpatient therapy team at Christus Ochsner St. Patricks Hospital for not only helping her to walk again but spend more time cooking and making memories with her family.

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