YELL COUNTY, Ark. (KARK) – As more than a thousand Arkansas residents fight the coronavirus from a hospital bed, some COVID-19 survivors are struggling with side effects from the virus long after they recover.
Yell County resident Barbara Ritter contracted the virus in August. Four months later, her health is deteriorating, and her symptoms are unlike anything she’s ever suffered from before.
Still, Ritter isn’t defined by her coronavirus diagnosis. She’s a master angler, a skilled gardener, a carpenter, mom to Charity and a preacher for 23 years.
She contracted the virus from her workplace in August and spent seven days on a ventilator.
“The diagnosis shocked me,” Ritter said.
For this woman who loves God, the devil is in the details of her post-recovery.
“I deal with some PTSD, because I can still feel them pulling the vent tube out,” Ritter explained.
She also suffers from “major hair loss,” short-term memory loss and was recently diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. This fisher of men, and catfish, isn’t used to feeling so depressed.
“You would think it’s no big deal to just go sit and throw out a hook and it’s probably not…but I just don’t feel like it,” Ritter said.
Amid her ongoing physical battles, the woodworker wants to use her story for good.
“To me, more important than fishing and gardening or anything is being a voice for all those people who lost their life,” Ritter said, adding that she and her daughter are waiting for test results from doctors so they can start a plan to recovery.
Ritter’s daughter said one of her doctors told her mother that she wouldn’t be able to return to work for months, maybe even years.
The pair filed an appeal for pandemic unemployment after Barbara’s partial pay from her employer ended.
Ritter’s daughter said a family friend set up a GoFundMe campaign to help them get by in the meantime.