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'Most frightful thing': How being hospitalized with COVID-19 changed 1 mom's vaccine plans

Yvonne Gloston's family was not vaccinated when they all contracted COVID-19. She was hospitalized, and now her whole family plans to receive vaccinations.
/ Source: TODAY

Yvonne Gloston is a 57-year-old mother of two living in Charlotte, North Carolina. She tested positive for COVID-19 in mid-June after she believes she contracted the virus at her daughter's high school graduation party from a symptomatic attendee. Neither Gloston nor her family were vaccinated because they were "afraid of the unknown," she said, and the virus spread to her husband and kids. They recovered easily, but Gloston has been sick for a month and was hospitalized. This experience changed her views on vaccination. She shared her story with TODAY.

When COVID started, we were taking all the precautions — like over precautions. If we went out, we always wore masks and gloves. When things started opening up, we would have family gatherings or bonfires, but we would have them outside. We had a graduation event for my daughter, and we had it outside. There was a young lady that was sick, and she was told not to come, but she came anyway.

About two days after the graduation party, I started feeling symptoms of a cold, kind of weird and bad. I got tested for COVID and it came back positive. Within that week, I started having fever, chills, the whole nine yards.

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I was hospitalized with double pneumonia for five days. It was very lonely. I was angry that someone felt it was OK to come to my house when they were sick. Just two months prior, my sister lost her best friend who I've known for 30, 40 years to COVID, so that frightened me.

To be honest, I didn't even think about going to the hospital. I was talking to my sister, and I started coughing, and she says, "No, go to the hospital right now, I don't like the way that sounds," because it sounded like her friend. Within three days in the hospital, her friend Rachel was gone.

Yvonne Gloston recovering with her oxygen tubes in.
Yvonne Gloston recovering with her oxygen tubes in.Yvonne Gloston

The most frightful thing is being hospitalized and just wanting to pass that three-day mark because I was thinking about Rachel. She was in her 40s, and it took her just like that.

In the hospital, I couldn't see any of my friends and family. They brought me pajamas by leaving it with the security guards. I was able to look out the window and wave when they came. Having COVID and being hospitalized or stuck at home, it's like being in a prison. I was in this one room for five days and didn't see the outside. My family was also home with COVID, but I wasn't able to be there and take care of them. As a mother and caregiver, that was another stressful situation.

I'm still on oxygen. I've had two episodes at home of my oxygen dropping, where I got really, really sick. It was diarrhea, I was throwing up, I was sweating profusely. My body felt like it was completely numb and tingly. I felt dizzy, like I was going to pass out. I couldn't even move, I couldn't lift my head. I was sweating so hard, like buckets of water being poured on me. There was another incident where I did pass out.

After being hospitalized for five days, Yvonne Gloston heads home with her oxygen tank.
After being hospitalized for five days, Yvonne Gloston heads home with her oxygen tank.Yvonne Gloston

My kids and husband have to bring me food, drinks. To get up and walk from one room to the next is really a task for me. I do it only because I know I need to keep exercising, to keep moving. I have a 50-foot oxygen cord, so I can walk outside and get some sun and fresh air, but I usually don't go too far. If I do, I start to feel winded and shaky.

I have a video visit with my doctor every week. She said that I'm starting to do pretty well, and she's positive that I'm going to recover from this fully. I feel like I'm doing better, but it's day by day. Her main concern is getting my lungs back to capacity.

When the vaccine became available, my first thought was: They normally take years to perfect a vaccine. We were afraid of the unknown. Where did it come from? Why was it so quick? Does it really work the way they say it's going to?

Gloston uses a device to check her lung capacity at home. She also has to check her oxygen levels regularly with a pulse oximeter.
Gloston uses a device to check her lung capacity at home. She also has to check her oxygen levels regularly with a pulse oximeter.Yvonne Gloston

One of the things the media kept pressing was if you have underlying conditions, you have the take the vaccine. Having diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, I was afraid to get it because I was so unsure about how it would affect me. Then I was also afraid of what would happen if I didn't get it. What we did was continue to take the precautions we were taking.

I'm still unsure about the vaccine, but I know I need to take the vaccine in order to be safe. My doctor instructed that in order for my family to keep me safer, that they needed to take the vaccine. They agreed. My kids are taking their first dose today. My doctor will tell me exactly when I can go take the vaccine, when she feels like I'm strong enough.

I have family members and friends that have taken the vaccine, and they have not gotten COVID, even if they've been around somebody with COVID. Although we're taking the vaccine, we are still going to wear a mask. I would suggest that everybody still wear their masks.

COVID is a serious, serious illness. It affects everybody differently, but you don't know how it's going to affect you until you get it, and trust me, you don't want to get COVID. If you feel like you're sick, have any symptoms, just stay home. Do not jeopardize the health of others. It's not that important for you to go to a gathering or an outing or anything.

As far as the vaccine, everybody has to make that decision for themselves. I made the decision because I felt like I was pushed in a corner by having COVID. I don't want people to go through what we're going through before they make that decision.