After testing positive for COVID-19, Lucille Pinder, 57, saw a social media post that included her photo and a claim that she was dead.
“The sad thing about it was my son called me and he said my granddaughter’s mom called him to say someone placed my photo on Facebook, that I had COVID-19, where I’m from and the whole shebang,” Pinder said.
“A few minutes after that, my cousin called to say someone said I died.”
Asked how this made her feel, Pinder said, “I asked God to bless that individual who posted my photo on Facebook. Through posting me up it will make others know that when they see me, I am a living testimony,” she said.
Pinder, who was hospitalized at the time, said during this stage of her experience with the virus she was not doing well. God was her only strength.
“I said to God, I need your strength. I have grandkids that go on social media; they do not need to see this,” she said.
Pinder said she received a great deal of phone calls after the post circulated. People who knew her wanted to find out if she knew what was going around.
After her phone died, she claimed, a nurse refused to charge it for her.
“After she told me no, I went down into depression,” she said, noting that her phone had been her only connection to the outside world.
“I sank deeper and deeper. I think I acted like a child. I pulled the covers over my head. I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t want to hear anyone.”
Speaking with The Nassau Guardian on Wednesday, Pinder recalled how she knew something was wrong with her.
Normally, she would participate in two to three days of spiritual fasting, but it had been nearly two weeks since she had eaten.
“I usually fasted for two or three days, but I had not eaten for two weeks and I was doing really bad,” she said.
A friend she spoke with that day could hear in her voice that something was not right.
The next morning, Pinder’s friend volunteered to take her to a nearby clinic to be assessed.
“They allowed me to see the doctor and he cleared me as fine,” she said.
“Upon waiting to get my medication, I fell out.
“I didn’t fully black out, but they called the ambulance and they took me to the Rand Memorial Hospital. I spent a few hours there. They checked me out and sent me home.”
When she got home, Pinder knew she was not 100 percent well. Nothing had changed.
“I still did not eat and I still was not doing well,” she said.
She received a phone call from a close friend that night.
She was asked, “If I come for you in the morning, will you go to the hospital?”
She replied, “Yes, I will go.”
The next morning, she arrived at the Rand Memorial Hospital. At this point, her condition had worsened.
“My body had declined rapidly and they admitted me in,” she said.
Pinder was seated under a tent across from a man who was also not well.
She noted, “I spent the night there. A nurse came in and told me she had to swab me and give me a mask to wear.”
The next morning, she was transferred from the tent into a cubicle.
“They moved me into a cubicle. That morning I learned that the man who was under the tent died from COVID-19,” she said.
This is when she found out she tested positive for COVID-19.
What could she do?
Pinder was shocked by the news. She had no travel history and lived alone.
“I am now surrounded by people that are dying from this virus. A day or so later, here I am. I’m positive,” she said.
“It was a little scary.”
She continued, “This COVID-19, I never dreamt my test was coming back positive. I had no signs of it, nothing.
“I was at work. I was not coughing. I just felt dehydrated and weak because I did not eat because of my 40-day fast.”
She spent two uncomfortable weeks without a voice and on an oxygen tank that she said she could not survive without.
“It was so bad. I asked God to just take me. I could not do this anymore,” she said.
“I felt when my spirit was leaving my body.”
Pinder remembers being hungry, but she was unable to eat anything.
“The nurses would ask me to drink bottled water before they got off from work. I had a fear of having to use the bedpans. I was afraid where I was weak,” she said.
“I have a drip in one hand, I’m hooked up to a machine and I am trying to hold onto a bed and I am trying to use this thing I am not familiar with. That brought great fear to me.”
Despite this, she eventually drank the water and there was slow progress. Nurses would encourage her to walk and move about, but it was a painful process.
“They said to me, ‘Ms. Pinder, you have to get up and walk around.’”
“On the right I am hooked up on a machine,” she said. “I cannot breathe on my own. On the left, I am hooked up on drips because I cannot eat on my own.”
An endless amount of problems arose, Pinder said.
“Every other day they would come and needles would be placed in my stomach and they hurt so bad. It hurt so bad I asked them to put the needles somewhere else,” she said.
“They decided to put the needles in my leg, but there was not a day I did not feel pain.”
The bright side
When nurses removed Pinder off the oxygen machine, she was still unable to breathe on her own.
However, she said after she said a prayer, things quickly changed.
“My breathing started to get better after I prayed and the doctors were pleased. I was able to go home,” she said.
Though it was a terrifying experience, Pinder said she was certain that God protected her through every moment.
After being hospitalized for nearly 15 days, Pinder was discharged.
“As soon as I got home, I had family that changed my bedding, made sure everything was secured because I was home alone,” she said.
“I was unable to walk from my bedroom to the bathroom without being short of breath. I went from 198 pounds to 160 pounds. My legs were as big as my arms. I cried when I saw how small I was. I would put clothes on and they fell off and that made me depressed.”
Though she still experienced shortness of breath during short walks, it was not as bad as before. She was determined to get better.
“When family members visited me, they would call me in advance to give me time to come to the door. When I opened the door, I would sit in the chair because I was out of breath, but I would not use the oxygen tank,” she said.
“I asked God to help me with my breathing.”
Eventually, things got better.
“After I fixed my first cup of tea, I thought I won the lottery,” she said.
Nearly five months after she tested positive, Pinder said she has a testimony.
“God saves,” she declared. “God covers and he sets free. COVID-19 is not a death sentence.”
Pinder was Grand Bahama’s third case of COVID-19.
The island has had 437 more cases since then, the vast majority recorded since July 8.