Jasmine Perkins,MSN, RN, CMSRN
Recipient of the Estelle Massey Osborne Scholarship
NEF Scholar: 2019-2020

It all began with a runny nose and my eyes hurt. Felt like they were being pierced. Allergies? But, I've never had allergies. My throat felt as if I had swallowed a jolly rancher and it got stuck. I’d inhale deeply, but it wasn't enough. I checked my temperature, but I didn’t have a fever. Over the next few days my body ached, my muscles hurt. I felt like I had rhabdomyolysis, no muscle tone, a workout gone bad? I was so tired. I spent days on the couch. My stomach hurt. My mouth tasted funny. I didn't have the energy reserve to do anything. I was talking to one of my best friends one day and all of a sudden, I started having chest pain. This was the final straw.

I called an urgent care room near my home and asked if they could perform an EKG. I told them I wasn’t sure if I had COVID or not. They said, “don’t come here, go to the emergency room”. I hesitated because what if I didn't have COVID and then I would go to the emergency room and be exposed. I didn't have a fever, shortness of breath or a cough. I called a local health system and completed a tele-health visit. Based on my symptoms they recommended that I be tested for COVID. I saw a post that recommended a provider and I was able to get an appointment the following day. I tested positive.

At first it didn’t phase me. I am a nurse. I know how to take care of myself. It would be 14 days. The state called, the county called, and my employer wanted updates. Everyone wanted to know. Where do you think you got it? COVID wasn't a treat that came with a proof of purchase receipt. If I could return to sender then, I would have. Those who once loved being around me were now fearful. Could I blame them? Not really. COVID’s unpredictable ways could leave a footprint of uncertainty in anyone's mind.

Finally, 33 days and 7 swabs later, I am now COVID Free. I learned so much about myself and my profession. I explored new talents and had the opportunity to do the things that I loved that time didn't allow for. With the help of my significant other I mailed care packages to those working on the frontlines. While I'm not back on the frontlines yet, I am helping prepare the new generation of nurses and merging my two loves, nursing and informatics, testing for COVID on the virtual lines. While this wasn’t the graduation that I pictured, I am left with an awesome testimony to share. Thank you Nurses Educational Funds (NEF) for helping me achieve what once seemed impossible.