WACO, TX — It seems as if nearly every single day, for weeks, 25 News has reported on how many people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. In fact, we have a daily Coronavirus Desk Tracker segment during our news.
Francine L. Soukup became part of that list of names mentioned on the air.
Three weeks ago, her daily routine as a professional truck driver was interrupted after she started to suffer from a coughing attack that wouldn't stop.
"Steadily coughing, coughing, coughing, coughing...no relief from coughing" she said.
Then, like others who have been diagnosed, more symptoms all at once.
"It happened all of a sudden" she said. "It was like somebody was standing on my chest, driving nails into my chest. And then it felt like I had heartburn, and then a fever of over 103 and shortness of breath. It felt like someone was just sucking the air out of ya."
Francine had Coronavirus.
When it was confirmed officially by the staff at the Temple VA hospital that she had contracted the virus, she says she felt uncertain that she would survive the night, as her doctor and a team of nurses tried everything to make sure that didn't happen.
She contacted her daughter to let her know the rent was paid up, as well as all of the utilities. If this was her time to go, she was at peace with God taking her that day.
During her admission to the hospital, she was told she was the first patient at the Temple VA hospital with true COVID-19 symptoms. She was also told she was battling pneumonia.
25 News wanted to know: did the team of doctors and nurses have a special plan for recovery?
Francine replied, "There is no secret. It's either you're gonna recover or you're not, there's no in between, there's no magical drug. My doctor, Dr. Chan, he put me on the Z-Pak through the IV and put me on fluid and the Tylenol every six hours, and the nurses were coming in there every two hours and monitoring me and put me on oxygen, taking chest x-rays, taking blood every day."
Through two tours of duty in Desert Storm, Soukup says none of her life experiences were more painful than the coronavirus.
"This right here does not compare to childbirth, it does not compare to MRSA, it does not compare to drills getting ready for battle in the military. This is the worst thing that I have ever went through...and it was horrible!!!" she said.
The military veteran spent 8 days in the hospital and after her fever had dropped for 24 hours straight she was allowed to go home. She credits her faith for her recovery.
"Prayers and believing in God. If your assignment upstairs is ready, you're done down here. If your assignment is not ready, you still have work to do," she said.
Now, she's back on the road as a truck driver and desperately spreading this message to everyone.
"We all want to get back to life. We all want to get back to the economy because the bills don't stop. But, this is real. There's no cure, there's no special drug, there's no magic pill...there's nothing. Everybody needs to slow down. Everybody just needs to be real cautious. Everybody just needs to take this time to reconnect with their families. This is no a joke, it is very real," she said.
All good advice from a 54-year-old woman who survived her fight with the invisible enemy.