SPRINGFIELD — Shelby Schulte, 25, says even after her two-week quarantine in Los Angeles and negative test results, she still feels symptoms that point to COVID-19.
Back in January, a healthy 25-year-old woman with no underlying health conditions decided she was going to take her nursing career in a different direction.
That woman, Shelby Schulte, is a former Mercy employee and has been a nurse for about two-and-a-half years. But she decided being a traveling nurse was the best fit for her at the time, and moved out the Los Angeles to begin that part of her career in January.
Little did she know, a few months later she would be on the front lines facing a worldwide pandemic, caring for several patients that were infected with COVID-19.
Fast forward to just a couple of weeks ago, Schulte began feeling ill.
“So about 13-14 days ago I started showing my first symptoms of a sore throat, just pretty fatigued and tired and weak. Then a few days later I spiked a fever,” Schulte said Tuesday.
On that day, she was told by her agency not to go to work, and go get tested.
“What they did essentially is they had a nasal swab and they stuck it all the way to the back of your sinuses, and it kind of felt like they were poking your brain on both sides,” Schulte says.
Schulte says it was only supposed to take 5 days to get the results back, but it ended up taking 10 days because the labs are so backed up.
“I got worse in those 10 days. I had to go back to the urgent care because I couldn’t breathe, but just left with an inhaler, cough suppressants, and waited for my results,” Schulte says, adding that her fever did subside, but she developed a dry cough, a worsened sore throat, and began getting very short of breath.
“(I) had trouble just completing a full sentence, or even just sitting here breathing – it was a difficult task.”
Her chest x-ray and oxygen tests came back okay, but she was sent home with an inhaler and cough suppressants. She says this is the first time in her life she has ever had an inhaler and has never had any breathing issues as an adult or a teenager.
Eventually those test results did come back, and they were negative.
“Which I was really shocked about since all of the symptoms that I’ve exhibited point towards having COVID, and especially taking care of patients who have had it,” Schulte says.
She says still feels short of breath, even though it has improved. Schulte doesn’t believe she will be tested again since tests are so scarce, but many health professionals she knows and trusts believe she either has – or did have COVID-19.
“It turns out that those nasal swabs are only 63% accurate in detecting a COVID infection. I spoke with several of my close friends who are physicians and nurse practitioners. They have been concerned that I do have it, even though my tests came back negative, but since it did come back negative, I’m back to work tonight.”
Schulte says Los Angeles is the first stop of her travel-nursing. She says her next stop could be in northern California or Washington, and doesn’t plan to return to Springfield for quite some time.