In April, Breanna Flowers, a Metro Atlanta paramedic, was a young, healthy woman who enjoyed riding horses in her spare time. Then she began to feel symptoms of COVID-19 in the middle of a shift.

Today, she struggles to breathe months after contracting the virus, and while she’s happy to back at work, she is confined to a desk job instead of helping patients.

“I was tired with a scratchy throat and the back of my eyes hurt. Then I got a really bad headache, I felt worse and worse,” says Breanna. “I was feverish and left work. I felt like I got hit by a train.”

She went to an urgent care the next day and received a clean chest X-ray. A few days later, she was gasping for air walking up the stairs and experienced shortness of breath trying to stand up from her bed. Her friends threatened to call her family if she didn’t go to the hospital.

Breanna was admitted to the hospital where she spent five days. She received intravenous antibiotics and breathing treatments.

“It was shocking. On Tuesday I had a clean chest X-ray, by Friday I had pneumonia in both lungs,” says Breanna. “I was totally unprepared to stay in the hospital, I brought nothing with me. My hospital room was on the first floor so my coworkers made a poster and stuck it to the outside window so I could see it. I talked to my parents through the window, too.”

After Breanna recovered and finished quarantine, she returned to work. She lasted only half a shift on the paramedic truck because she couldn’t breathe. Luckily, Breanna had prior experience in dispatch and was given a job there where she can sit down at a desk. Breanna hopes to get back to working with patients on the truck soon.

“I’m not able to do normal things like take a walk or ride horses,” says Breanna. “It just physically drains me especially if it’s hot and humid. I have to use two different inhalers now. I’ve never had breathing problems in my life before getting COVID. I hope other young people take precautions because it’s better than dealing with symptoms for the rest of your life.”