‘Why was I so lucky?’: After COVID hospitalization, Spokane woman vows to get vaccinated

SPOKANE, Wash. – In the fifth wave of COVID-19 in Washington, we’ve heard several health leaders continuously say a majority of hospital patients are unvaccinated.

Joanne Blacketer of Spokane was one of them. After everything she’s been through getting the coronavirus and being hospitalized, she says she regrets not getting vaccinated.

“I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t 100-percent positive that– I do now, and even before I got sick, I started to believe it,” she paused. “I wasn’t 100 percent positive that COVID was as big of a deal as they’ve made it.”

Blacketer says she was skeptical of the vaccine. She believes it all happened too fast and that the requirements, approvals and mandates happened too quickly.

“It just feels like it’s scary. They’re forcing it and I just don’t know enough about it or how to find the right resources to find enough about it,” she said. Blacketer added she doesn’t believe everything she reads on the Internet. She also said she didn’t think she was going to be affected, being a stay-at-home grandmother.

“I’m a homebody. So, I really thought I was safe, and you’re not. You’re just not,” she said.

Blacketer ended up having a virtual appointment with her doctor to discuss the vaccine, which is actually coming up this week. She wanted to talk with her doctor to see what’s best for her, as she has several underlying health conditions. She said she waited so long to talk with her doctor about vaccines because she still was skeptical.

Though she made that appointment, it was too late. Her son had come home positive with COVID-19. Blacketer ended up testing negative, but her cough kept getting worse. Her daughter-in-law was concerned with how much she was coughing. Blacketer said she couldn’t talk either. Eventually, her test came back positive.

“I could barely get one word out because I couldn’t get enough air,” she said.

She ended up calling an ambulance to go to the hospital the night of September 6. She says Holy Family Hospital took her in right away.

While in the hospital, Blacketer said she didn’t know what was going to come next, especially since she has underlying health conditions.

“It’s very scary. I didn’t honestly know if –  how long I was going to be there if I was going to make it out of here,” she said.

Five days later, she left the hospital. She said doctors gave her medicine and she had to do some oxygen therapy.

Blacketer said she was relieved to go back home to her granddaughters. She says she feels “almost guilty” for being able to leave, knowing that others who are fighting COVID-19 have to stay for longer, and even have tougher battles with it.

“I was very glad I got to leave, but my heart breaks for the people who are still there fighting, fighting for it. The only I think I kept thinking is: what made me so lucky? Why was I so lucky?” she said.

Blacketer now has a long road to recovery. She has to use oxygen at home for the foreseeable future and gain back some strength. Before COVID-19 she was able to run around with her granddaughters and cook dinner for her kids and grandkids. She tried cooking dinner Monday night, but said she still felt too weak and exhausted.

“This is definitely a very humbling experience for me, very humbling,” she said.

Even through all this, Blacketer says she’s still a little skeptical of the vaccine– but added she will get the shot.

“If it’s going to help me from not having, to not go through this again or somebody else, then I have to do my part. I just do,” she said. “Because this, I don’t ever want to have to go through this again or be responsible for somebody else going through it.”

Blacketer said she will be talking with her doctor about getting the vaccine, saying she plans to get vaccinated as soon as she can.

She said some of her family members are still skeptical about getting the vaccine. She hopes those who are will think about it.

“Even if you don’t believe in it for yourself, do it for everybody else,” she said.

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