‘Felt like I was breathing through a straw:’ Chicago woman describes COVID-19 diagnosis


CHICAGO — There’s still much unknown about COVID-19. The duration and the range of symptoms seems to be different for everyone.

A Chicago woman diagnosed with COVID-19 spoke to WGN News about her experience.

Shannon Failla is 31, healthy, and active. So when she started feeling sick around March 12, she thought it was just a cold.

“Around Day 13, 14, I actually lost all of my smell and taste,” she said. “And still don’t have it back to this day. So that was an indicator where I started to get a little worried.”

After being tested for strep, her symptoms continued to get worse.

“How I would explain it is it feels like there’s a 300 pound person sitting on my chest and when it got really bad, I felt like I was breathing through a straw,” she said.

Last Thursday, Failla went to the emergency room at Northwestern Hospital.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had a hospital experience,” she said. “You’re getting your blood taken, you’re getting x-rays, you’re getting your vitals taken, you have an EKG hooked up to you, you’re getting a swab up your nose – it is scary. And to do it alone is even scarier.”

Failla’s oxygen levels dipped and her heart rate raced, but she said she never had a fever or chills.

After five days in the hospital, her doctors confirmed she had COVID-19.

“I just want to let everyone know that although that is going to be the primary case, you may have it and you don’t have any fever and you don’t have any chills,” Failla said. “So just know that symptoms and case to case is going to look so different.”

After 22 days with symptoms, Failla said she’s finally starting to feel better.

“Right now I am feeling quite a bit better, but I still do have quite a bit of tightness or shortness of breath in my chest, especially when I get up to do small things like go to the bathroom or try to wash dishes,” Failla said.

Failla is out of the hospital and said she wants to donate blood or plasma to try and help the medical community study this virus.

She plans to stay in self quarantine for several more weeks just to be safe.


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