By Victoria Metcalf
Imagine lying on your sofa, fighting for every breath. And then wondering if that breath will be your last.
That’s what it was like for Marcia Detrick (a resident of Plumas County for 75 years) when COVID-19 knocked at her door. She’s 85 and an asthmatic with other underlying health issues. Detrick knew that if the pandemic came to her, there was a very good chance she wouldn’t survive.
A resident of a Green Bay suburb for the past year-and-a-half, Detrick said it was her son, Bob, who contracted the sometimes-fatal disease. He drove a colleague to a medical appointment in a neighboring community 40 miles away. While there the colleague was tested and eventually learned those findings were positive. Although she and Bob both wore N95 masks, Bob came down with COVID-19. “That was fast,” Detrick said. The following day Bob was already experiencing beginning symptoms. “I thought he had a bad cold,” she said.
Detrick’s son, a 1975 Quincy High School graduate and Plumas County native, takes care of his mother and works for a nonprofit full time. While his case didn’t hit him harder than a normal cold, Detrick caught the virus from him.
“It was different for me,” she said. While her son is far younger and relatively healthy, Detrick’s age and underlying health issues made the situation worse. A retired Licensed Vocational Nurse, she knew what would happen if she went to the hospital. She didn’t want to go and didn’t want to be put on a ventilator.
Lying on her sofa in her house, she said it felt like her lungs were filled with cement. “I thought I would stop breathing and die.”
“I never ran a fever,” she said as many people with the virus do. But that didn’t mean the virus was any less severe for her. For at least the first week she was infected, she spent her days and nights lying on her couch, “and spent all my time concentrating on being able to breathe.”
During this time Detrick relied on over-the-counter medications trying to relieve her symptoms. “And I was getting sicker and sicker and having a harder time breathing,” she said. “I can’t explain the feeling.”
But Detrick was determined that she wasn’t going to the hospital. “If it kills me, it kills me.”
In retrospect, Detrick said it was, “The most frightening disease imaginable. People who say they’re not going to get the shots because of the side effects are crazy.”
Within two weeks of contracting COVID-19, she said she finally felt like it was all behind her. She’s careful now and waiting for the side effects of the disease to come and go, but she firmly believes she made the right choice of staying home.
Detrick, then Marcia Robison, moved to Plumas County when she was 10-years-old. Her father, Ken ran a propane business. Her mother worked for a doctor. Marcia married Derald Detrick in the 1950s. Her sons David and Bob were born in Quincy.