COLUMBIA, S.C. — A Sumter family described their matriarch's coronavirus sickness like being in the 'Twilight Zone.'
Originally, around March 31, Melody Harvin, a Sumter native in her early 60s, just thought her nausea was a regular sickness.
Eventually, her husband talked her into visiting an Urgent Care. While there, medical staff collected fluids for testing and sent her home.
A few days later, they called and told her to go to an emergency room due to issues with her kidney. While in the Primsa Health Tuomey ER for the kidney issue, doctors noticed Harvin was coughing.
They performed a COVID-19 test and admitted her on April 7, while outside her husband had to wait in the car until he was told she wouldn't be coming back out anytime soon, according to the couple's daughter, Shantia White.
White continued, saying the last week has been a scary, overwhelming, and 'Twilight Zone'-like ordeal.
“My mom, when I talked to her the day that she was admitted, she didn't think she was going to come out. She was telling me to tell everybody she loved them, and that was the scariest thing to hear your mom say something like that,” White said about April 7th.
The family said they relied on phone calls to hear from Harvin, but some days she was too tired, sick, or nurses were too overwhelmed to make the calls.
“To try to call her and she's not answering, and you have no clue what's going on. You're hearing about all these deaths, you know that she checks all the boxes of someone that should be on that death list. It's nerve-wracking, it's scary,” White added.
White said her mother’s medical history made her a high-risk patient for COVID-19. In 2003, Harvin had a kidney transplant after complications from hypertension.
Then, a year and a half ago, Harvin was diagnosed with untreated diabetes.
Combined with the COVID-19 diagnosis, White said the family has been on edge for a week.
“She's been hospitalized you know a few times in her life. But this was the absolute hardest for us as her children to not be able to physically see her and for her not to answer the phone so we have no clue, because, with COVID, things can turn in the blink of an eye,” White said over a video call on Tuesday.
White, her two siblings, Harvin's 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild have been unable to visit or see Harvin since last Tuesday.
Harvin received oxygen while hospitalized and developed a fever but was never sent to the ICU nor was placed on a ventilator, according to her daughter.
She is expected to be discharged Tuesday afternoon and will go home to continue recovering.
The family said they’re relieved the ordeal will, hopefully, soon be over.
“I was terrified, I was not sleeping at night, my husband was concerned about me and my mental health. Me, my sister, and my brother, especially my brother being halfway across the planet in Dubai, it was terrifying. If that's the one word I could describe it as,” White said.
White's brother is in the Air Force and has three children and a wife in Maryland. His wife also tested positive for the virus, meaning the family has been dealing with two infections in different states.
White said she and her two siblings relied on a higher power to get through.
“We're a Christian family, so faith played a major role in me and my siblings comforting each other,” White told WLTX.
Harvin's fever finally broke on Easter Sunday, White added.
White’s sister in Sumter and her four children were all tested and found to be negative for COVID-19, according to White. Grandpa, Harvin's husband, also tested negative. But, she said the stress has been tough to handle.
“To have to work from home, with your children at home, with your mom on your mind, it's very overwhelming, I felt like at times I was having a mental breakdown. And I just-- to look at what the world is going through, I've never seen anything like this, heard anything like this, and to be experiencing it so closely, it can break you down mentally, it really can,” White said.
Her four-year-old son, whom she joked was Harvin’s favorite grandson, kept asking when they could visit grandma, whom he calls ‘NeNe.’
She said it’s been difficult trying to explain why they can’t visit and why he can’t go to 4-year-old kindergarten.
Harvin will return home and have to remain in isolation through the two-week period from the date of her diagnosis.
The family said they’re telling their story now so other South Carolinians follow stay-at-home orders and public health guidelines as the pandemic continues to spread.