An Oklahoma woman who survived COVID-19 twice is now on a mission to share her harrowing health ordeal and caution others to take the virus seriously. Leslie Tanyan, 46, described her two battles with COVID-19 as completely different. The first time she came down with the virus, she said she barely felt it. The second time she contracted it, she said she barely survived.
Tanyan said when she tested positive in June, she hardly had any symptoms. A few weeks later, her COVID-19 test came back negative and at that point she thought she was in the clear and finished with coronavirus.
She was wrong.
“I thought I was immune,” said Tanyan. “I did not think I'd get it again, and I did. I was really shocked. I told them I had it in June and thought we were supposed to have immunity.”
In mid- August, Tanyan got so sick she could barely catch her breath and ended up in the ICU after her husband rushed her to the hospital.
“I couldn't get my oxygen up, It was going down so fast I started passing out," Tanyan said to KOCO News, an affiliate of ABC.
Tanyan described the pressure she was feeling as if her head was going to “explode," due to the lack of oxygen.
She told the news station that at first, she had not been tested for COVID-19, because she has been previously diagnosed with the illness. However, when she tested again, her results came back positive. She was immediately taken to the COVID-19 floor of the hospital, where she stayed for three-and-a-half weeks.
“It's scary and you feel alone. It's not like the flu. That's something I want to say. The flu, you can get over in three days,” she said.
Still wondering how she contracted the virus a second time, hospital staff explained that since the virus is so new, that they, too are learning every day.
“This is serious and it's taking a lot of lives. Those numbers have families,” Tanyan told the news station.
Tanyan was transferred to a long-term care facility, where she stayed for one month after two of her COVID-19 tests came back negative, but said the damage she sustained from the virus looks like a cloud over her entire lung.
“They said I was very lucky. Not many people who get to that part make it,” she said as she praised all the doctors, nurses and health care workers who helped her battle her illness and called them “the true heroes and front-line fighters.”
Tanyan has returned home to recover with her family by her side as she continues to experience the lingering effects from the virus. She is warning others to take this virus seriously and holding her state of Oklahoma accountable.
“I want my Native American community to be careful,” said Tanyan, who credits part of her recovery to her faith. “We hold our elders in high regard. Those are the ones we want to protect. Oklahoma, we can do better.”