Kaydee Asher thought she was doing everything right. She wore face masks and limited her time in public spaces.
The Green Valley High School student was a healthy 16-year-old who hadn’t been sick in two years when she contracted the novel coronavirus last month. She started having issues breathing, felt tired and lost the ability to smell before she was treated at St. Rose Dominican Hospital, Siena campus’ intensive care unit in Henderson.
Frustrated with her predicament, she took to Twitter with videos and photos, hoping to spread awareness to her classmates and local teens.
Her first tweet, posted Monday, drew about 70,000 likes and 40,000 retweets.
I don’t have a big platform, if you can spread awareness to my story..pls do so by retweeting and working to educate yourself & others about something VERY REAL & VERY PAINFUL. Others have similar stories. If you know me, i hope it shows awareness that this can happen to anyone. pic.twitter.com/A6blq5JfXW
— kaydee ♛ (@kaydeegrace132) June 30, 2020
“I didn’t think I’d get as much support,” she said. “I think my friends see stuff in a new light. I had a lot of friends text me and tell me it made them think differently.”
Her mom, Sandra Asher, said she’s proud of her daughter’s efforts to raise awareness as she recovers from the virus.
“I’m really happy that she’s able to channel her frustrations in writing and is educating others. It’s a proud moment for a parent. People are seeing it,” she said.
Kaydee spent three days and two nights in the ICU, according to her mother. She was discharged Monday.
Thinking back on the origins leading to her diagnosis, Kaydee said she remembers she had a runny nose. The following night, her symptoms escalated, and her mother took her to get tested. While she waited to get test results, Kaydee’s illness got worse.
“Tuesday (6/23) while getting breakfast, I realized the milk was about to expire. I put it in a cup, smelled to see if the milk smelled bad &could not smell anything,” she wrote in a tweet. “I didn’t think much until taking whiffs of tabasco, smelling absolutely nothing yet feeling my nose burning.”
On June 24, she went to the hospital’s emergency room, where she was given another test. Within two hours, it came back positive. Chest X-rays showed she had mild inflammation. She was given medication and discharged to cope with the symptoms at home.
By June 27, Kaydee was back at the hospital.
“I woke up from my sleep with a huge headache that felt like my head was a hot air balloon about to pop and could not breathe AT ALL,” she wrote in another tweet. “I felt like weights were sitting on my lungs/chests and exhaling air became difficult, like air was trapped.”
Kaydee is now recovering in her Las Vegas home.
During a phone interview Thursday, she said she was feeling sicker and more tired than she did the day before. Her doctor told her she won’t be normal for four to six weeks. Currently, Kaydee can sleep only in 3½-hour increments.
Sandra Asher recalled comforting her daughter while she was in the hospital.
“It is incredibly heartbreaking to see your child in so much pain and hurting and not being able to do one thing to make it better,” she said.
She also remembers a pivotal moment when she felt the need to hug her ailing daughter in the hospital.
“She begged me not to hug her,” Sandra Asher said, noting that at the time, she believed she had already contracted the virus because her daughter had it. “I just gave her the biggest hug. Her feeling my love and me feeling hers, I don’t think I’ll forget that moment.”
Kaydee also apologized to her mom for getting sick.
“She said, ‘I’m sorry, mom. This is going to cost you a lot,’” Sandra Asher recalled while noting that her daughter’s health is her top priority. “My paycheck means nothing compared to my daughter’s health.”
Looking forward, Kaydee and her mother know it will be hard for her to overcome her anxiety about leaving the house.
“If I don’t think it’s safe enough, then I won’t go out,” Kaydee said, adding that she still hopes to return to school in the fall. “I know I’ll be taking huge precautions on my side. I guess we’ll have to see how it rides out.”
A GoFundMe page has been created to cover Kaydee Asher’s medical bills. The family hopes to raise $10,000. Any additional funds after her medical bills are covered will go to her college fund.