Virus survivor battling

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Amanda Mangold never expected to become infected with COVID-19. She spent five weeks in the ICU before she was discharged Sept. 1.  The mother of three was also diagnosed with double pneumonia, a pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis.  “I was stunned,” Mangold said....

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  • Amanda Mangold was hospitalized for five weeks in an ICU with COVID-19. She is in recovery at home. The Callahan mom is pictured with husband Bradley, son Zachary, and daughters Breahna and Ally.
    Amanda Mangold was hospitalized for five weeks in an ICU with COVID-19. She is in recovery at home. The Callahan mom is pictured with husband Bradley, son Zachary, and daughters Breahna and Ally.
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Amanda Mangold never expected to become infected with COVID-19. She spent five weeks in the ICU before she was discharged Sept. 1. 

The mother of three was also diagnosed with double pneumonia, a pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis. 

“I was stunned,” Mangold said. “Looking back, it sounds silly. But I had followed all the rules. I had worn my mask. I had stayed home as much as possible. I washed my hands. I had hand sanitizer. I had socially distanced. And I just couldn’t imagine how I got COVID. Again, that sounds very silly. But I was just stunned. By the time I had gotten to the hospital, I was critically ill.” 

Mangold still relies on an oxygen tank to assist her breathing. She must achieve oxygen levels of 95 percent or higher before she can stop using the oxygen tank. 

She most likely contracted the virus in July during a shopping trip to a Goodwill Store in Ocala. She was admitted into the hospital on July 22 after being ill at home for at least a week. While in the emergency room, she was tested for the Coronavirus and it came back positive. 

“My experience with COVID … has been extreme,” Mangold said. “I didn’t feel like I was coming down with anything. You know how you start to get sick and you think, ‘Gosh, I don’t feel that good’ or ‘I feel like I’m coming down’… I woke up fine one day and I was sick the next.” 

She said that the virus affects people in different ways. 

“COVID can hit someone and it can be like a flu,” Mangold said. “It can hit someone and it can be like having a cold. It can hit someone and they’re in the hospital. While I was there, two people died.” 

The experience changed her preconceived notions of the pandemic. 

“It’s real,” Mangold said. “It’s real. And I will confess that before this happened, (I thought) there’s so much out there that I don’t know if this is political hype. I don’t know if they’re making something bigger out of this than what it really is. I’ve heard people, you know, not even having to be hospitalized. I’ve heard of those that have been hospitalized. Well, I am living, breathing proof that it can be as simple as the flu or as real as death. I’m 46. I’m not a spring chicken. I’m 46. But when they told me, ‘Hey, this could very well be your end,’ and you’re 46, that’s an awakening. That wakes you up pretty quick.” 

Husband Bradley Man-gold questioned the protocol that he and his family experienced through the Florida Department of Health in Nassau County. 

When his wife was designated as testing positive, he said he and his three children were also counted as positive, even though she was the only person tested. 

“We’re going to count you all as positive,” Bradley said he was told. “We never had a test, but they counted us as positive.” 

The health department’s COVID Health Educator Amber Teeter said the department does not include patients on the data dashboard unless they test positive.

After his wife was discharged five weeks later, his oldest daughter Breahna tested positive for antibodies, but didn’t have any symptoms.

“I think there’s a lot of misleading information in all this,” Bradley said. “Even the experts don’t know enough about it. They’re working off guesses and that’s why things keep changing. That’s why they call it practicing medicine.”

He also questioned whether the health department observed patient confidentiality. Bradley said that someone from the health department called the home and began asking his 18-year-old daughter, Ally, additional questions about the virus and the family. Feeling uncomfortable with the conversation, she ended the call and contacted her dad. 

“I didn’t feel comfortable with that,” Bradley said. “Your doctor has to have a written waiver to leave a voicemail, but the health department called the house to ask questions.” 

When asked about a health department employee asking for personal information, Teeter said, “A contact tracer may ask personal information from a close contact to ensure they are speaking with the correct person and have the necessary information to contact them as needed.”

She outlined the protocol for those who test positive for the virus. 

“In regard to contact tracing, as soon as a positive case of COVID-19 is identified, an investigation will begin,” she wrote via email Tuesday. 

“A case investigator will work with the individual to place them under isolation and create a list of people they’ve been in contact with during the time frame when they are deemed infectious. Once the contacts are established, a contact tracer will call each of those people so they can quarantine and take appropriate precautions. When a close contact is identified, they will still need to quarantine for 14 days after initial exposure. This is because symptoms may not appear until two to 14 days after exposure to the virus.”

Mangold spoke of the months leading up to her illness. Her father, Charles Blake, died in September 2019. While she was busy finalizing his estate, she became depressed as she grieved the loss of her dad. She believes the grieving process may have adversely affected her morale in a way that made her immune system susceptible to contracting the virus. 

Despite the negative aspects of the virus, she also sees the positives. 

“I realized I let a lot of time pass by, by allowing myself to sink into that emotional state,” Mangold said. “I appreciate my family. I did before. But I do so even more now. And I appreciate every single day, even though I’m hooked up to this oxygen tank. I call it my 50-foot leash that gets caught on every piece of furniture that I own. I am so thankful to be here. I really thought when he said, ‘pulmonary embolism’ – I said, ‘That can kill me.’ I was stunned.’”

She is also thankful that her family continues to help her through the crisis. 

“It takes a support system,” Mangold said. “If there is somebody that you know that has COVID, but doesn’t have somebody at home, they need help.”

Her youngest daughter homeschooled sibling Zachary, 10, and still managed to attend college, grocery shop and prepare meals. Her oldest daughter cleaned house and managed other responsibilities. 

“It takes a support system at home and calling that person and keeping in contact with that person,” Mangold said. “My mother-in-law would send me texts just to tell me how her day went.”