Dr. Allison Gilbert, who owns and operates South Fork Physical Therapy with her husband, Dr. Scott Gilbert, was recently diagnosed with Covid-19. She shared her story in a Facebook Live video, and has also allowed the Independent Herald to share her story with the hopes that the community understands the seriousness of the virus.
From her hospital bed at Methodist Medical Center on Sunday, July 12, Dr. Allison Gilbert posted a Facebook update to her family and friends to confirm rumors that had begun swirling over the weekend.
“This is the reality of Covid. This virus is in rural America and it is real.”
Gilbert had become what is now one of 36 — and climbing — positive cases of the coronavirus in Scott County.
“To be clear, I have been wearing a mask at work since March. In the two weeks before being sick, I had been a homebody. I have gone to work, to the doctor in Knoxville one day, and to church,” Gilbert said.
One of the most frightening components of the coronavirus is the unknown. Many of the symptoms — sore throat, headache, and cough — are similar to the allergies that many in East Tennessee suffer from. For Gilbert, the symptoms were all over the map.
“I have had everyone at some point,” Gilbert said. “Not all together, but I have had everyone. Fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache, head congestion, GI symptoms.”
In the week leading up to Gilbert’s hospitalization, the symptoms were mild. Nothing made her think that she was truly sick. Twice, she actually thought that she was better, and then a day or so later the symptoms would hit again. Things went downhill on Friday, July 10.
“When I woke up that Friday, I had some allergy symptoms. Mid-morning I felt short of breath. I do have mild asthma, so I took a breathing treatment.”
Gilbert was not feeling ill and actually had a grocery pickup scheduled for noon. In the 10 minutes from her house to Walmart, the realization came that she was not feeling well and could not get her breath.
Posted by Allison Fox Gilbert on Saturday, July 18, 2020
When she arrived home and got out of her car, things began to take a turn for the worst.
“As I was walking in, my legs went completely weak, like they couldn’t hold me up. Instantly, I couldn’t breathe. I called my doctor (at Grace Primary Care), and they told me to come in immediately.”
Gilbert is quick to share her gratitude for the medical care she received locally. The employees at Grace Primary Care, the Scott County Ambulance Service, paramedic Rick Russ, and the staff at Big South Fork Medical Center rose to the occasion to take care of her and keep her husband informed of her status.
“We are blessed to have all these medical professionals in our rural small town,” Gilbert posted on her Facebook page. “I will always count it a privilege to live in this community and with these people. I am a grateful patient who was taken care of by her neighbors.”
In the week and a half since her diagnosis, Gilbert is on the mend. She notices that everyday something else good is happening. Most of her breathing issues are gone, and her sense of taste and smell are returning. After self-isolating from her husband and five children and being fever-free for several days, her doctor is allowing her to see them at a safe distance. She is thankful that her family and coworkers are healthy and have all tested negative for Covid-19.
“That was a huge answered prayer and relief for me,” Gilbert said.
As she looks at the response to the coronavirus, she realizes that there is a certain stigma that people have.
“I am not embarrassed,” she said. “I didn’t do anything wrong. It’s like catching the cold, flu, or stomach bug. If anyone else has this, share more. Speak up. It will educate more people.”
When Gilbert was in the hospital, her husband asked her what she wanted to tell people. Her immediate response was “the truth, 100%”.
“God has me on this path for a reason. It’s His plan and none of this is a surprise to Him. My faith is a huge part of my life and the comfort that God has brought to me through his people has been humbling. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 has been on my heart. Hopefully by sharing my experience, I can help at least one person avoid getting sick or losing a loved one. Help one another. Be kind. Don’t think it can’t happen to you.”