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Akron General nurse in respiratory failure after COVID-19 hospitalization

Akron nurse Kate Thompson
Posted at 3:27 PM, Dec 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-21 15:27:06-05

AKRON, Ohio — Kate Thompson is a registered nurse at Cleveland Clinic - Akron General who has devoted her life to caring for people in need, including COVID-19 patients.

“You don't know if they're going to wake up fine in seven days,” Thompson said. “You don't know if they are going to code, as we call it.”

However, she may never treat another patient after becoming a patient herself.

“I’m in limbo right now,” Thompson said. “I’m coming to terms with the fact that I may never get back to bedside nursing.”

After a month in the hospital following her COVID-19 diagnosis in early November, Thompson has returned home. But she said life is not back to normal and may never be.

“I am actually in respiratory failure,” Thompson said. “We don't know if my lungs will ever come back at this point.”

Thompson is in respiratory failure due to sustained damage to her lungs and is on an oxygen tank around the clock.

“This just might be me for the rest of my life. Again, we don't know,” Thompson said. “There's no one else to base experiences off of. COVID is only nine months old.”

At just 39 years old, Thompson hopes sharing her story will encourage others to take the virus seriously.

“I’m a 39-year-old woman. I just turned 39 in quarantine. I would run the steps of the Lincoln McKinley Monument three times a week this past summer,” Thompson said. “I go to the gym. I'm healthy, but for some reason COVID attacked my lungs with a vengeance.”

She recalled tough conversations with her family during her hospital stay.

“My husband and I, my father and I had end of life conversations,” Thompson said. “If I end up on a ventilator, how long do I want to end up on a ventilator? If they start using these terms, you need to start thinking about letting me go. And it's okay. Don’t second guess yourself. I want this done.”

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