From fever to ventilator in 9 days: Carmel nurse fights for her life after getting COVID-19

Posted at 2:30 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 14:45:04-04

CARMEL — A Carmel nurse has been fighting for her life for over a week after she had to be placed on a ventilator after coming down with COVID-19.

Lesley Vogel’s daughter, Carolina, is sharing her mother’s story in the hope that it will give Hoosiers a glimpse at how dangerous COVID-19 can be and how important social distancing is during this time.

Carolina says her mother’s struggle began almost two weeks ago when she started feeling under the weather. Lesley had a low-grade fever and a dry cough, but nothing she thought was serious.

Nearly a week later, when her symptoms started getting worse, she went for a drive-thru COVID-19 test. The next day her condition had deteriorated to the point where she was short of breath and decided she needed to be seen by a doctor. Within 24 hours, she was on a ventilator and fighting for her life.

The family isn’t sure where Lesley may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Carolina says her mother had gone to the grocery store in the week before she started feeling ill, but other than that she had been social distancing and was only going to work and home.

“This is why you stay home,” Carolina posted on Facebook. “She felt “fine”. It seemed like a mild cold to us. It wasn’t.”

Lesley’s COVID-19 test didn’t even come back – positive – until the day after she was placed on a ventilator.

Fast forward a week later.

Carolina says her mother was still on a ventilator Sunday evening, April 5, but they have been slowly lowering the sedation to see if she can handle breathing on her own. If she continues to improve, they hope to be able to extubate her sometime Monday.

“Stay the HECK home,” Carolina said in her message on social media. “Stop visiting friends. Stop having people over to your home. It is not okay: it is irresponsible, self-centered, and potentially deadly. Your selfishness could leave someone motherless. If you didn't believe it before, and now that you've heard an example you can fathom the gravity of the situation - good. Start now, right this second staying the heck home and social hecking distancing. You could save someone's life.”

Below is a timeline Carolina shared of her mother’s progression from the day she started exhibiting symptoms until she was placed on a ventilator: It was 9 days.

Saturday, March 21

  • Lesley developed a low-grade fever (99-100) and a mild cough. She spent the next few days trying to manage those symptoms at home.

Friday, March 27

  • Since her symptoms had persisted for a few days and she is an RN, her physician suggested she be tested for COVID-19. Lesley went through the Eli Lilly drive-thru and was tested.

Saturday, March 28

  • Her shortness of breath intensified, and she drove herself to the neighborhood hospital. She was admitted to the hospital and transferred to St. Vincent in Carmel because her chest X-ray showed pneumonia and her oxygen was low.

Sunday, March 29

  • Lesley began the morning stable, but her condition quickly began to decline in the afternoon and early evening. It got so bad that the doctors decided to sedate and intubate her.

Monday, March 30

  • Lesley’s COVID-19 test came back from the Lilly drive-thru testing. It was positive.