Once fighting for her life, local nurse takes strides in COVID-19 recovery

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City nurse is making remarkable strides in healing from COVID-19.

FOX4 first introduced you to Ashley Arrowood through her loved ones last month. Now, she’s able to sit up and speak.

“Waking up from this has been really humbling,” Arrowood said.  

The nurse is grateful to be alive after spending 22 days on a ventilator and nearly six weeks hospitalized with the coronavirus.

“I’m like, I’m 29 — I took a 22-day nap. I should be able to get up and start going at it again, and the doctor said, ‘No, you’re more like a 50-year-old now who needs to recondition everything,'” Arrowood said.

Ashley’s been a nurse with the University of Kansas Health System and recently took time away to work in the COVID-19 med-surge unit at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

“I just felt an urge to help because there’s places that were getting hit harder than Kansas City, and St. Louis was one of those places. The opportunity arose, and I took it,” Arrowood said.

It was an incredible but traumatic experience to work with COVID patients, she said. Many of those she treated came from nursing homes and had no family.

“It was very sad, and it was very dehumanizing seeing patients like that,” Arrowood said.

But given most of her patients were older, the 29-year-old never thought she would get coronavirus and end up fighting for her life.

Arrowood even endured two possible COVID exposures and got negative tests before she came back to Kansas City and started feeling sick.

“I was thinking that I am just worn down and tired from my position and driving back and forth to home. I’m just like there’s no way,” she said. “But then my face turned blue. I was like, ‘Might need to go to the hospital.'”

Ashley’s mom also tested positive for COVID-19, so her nursing family stepped up to rally support. They started Caring Bridge and GoFundMe pages, raising nearly $20,000. 

“She’d just do this and more for any of us, so we wanted to show up and love big for her as best we can,” said Ashley’s friend, Tori Holt.

“I can’t believe it. I have a lot of thank you cards to write!” Arrowood said.

The nurse also has some words of wisdom for those who don’t want to wear a mask or take the threat of COVID-19 seriously.

“It may not be a big deal if they get it because they might be healthy, but it’s a big deal for other people,” she said. “I feel like we need to be safe and protect those other people, and it’s a very small liberty to give up in order to save the majority of people.”

Arrowood said she’s still dealing with after effects from her severe illness, including weakness and hallucinations. But she’s made so much progress, she will be transferred to a rehab hospital soon.

She’s also hoping to return to school in the fall to complete her nurse practitioner degree.

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