“They were gone for 14 days, they could been gone for more…”
When he penned those words for the “Ballad of Dwight Fry,” Alice Cooper was not writing about Centralia’s Marilyn and Richard West’s brush with COVID-19, but maybe he could have.
One morning in mid-July Marilyn was picking up some dinner for she and Richard at a drive-through in
Columbia when she noticed an unfamiliar burning sensation in her throat when she breathed.
While that is likely never a good thing, an unfamiliar health situation takes on new meaning when the one experiencing it has been a nurse for 35 years.
“I felt a burning every time I took a breath and a fever too,” she said. “When I got home, Richard was sick too.”
Richard, a Fed Ex delivery driver for more than 25 years, said the first thing he noticed was weakness, and a cough.
“It wasn’t your everyday cough, it was a cough you felt with your whole body,” he said, sipping a Dr. Pepper at a picnic bench behind Reclaimed on Railroad Street, as he and Marilyn had breakfast during Second Saturday.
Marilyn agreed. ”It was a cough you felt all the way down to your toes.”
The fatigue, in those circumstances, the couple said, was also a new feeling.
“Everything was a marathon,” Richard said. “Every step felt like your last, but you knew you had to take another.”
The next day, Marilyn was tested at the Missouri Veterans Hospital drive-thru testing site.
Fast forward, 8 a.m., two days later: “My boss called me at 8 a.m. and woke me up… When you get a call from the hospital chief of staff at 8 a.m., you know something is up. They told me I had tested positive and the department of health would be calling us for contact tracing.”
For the complete article, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.