When the Coronavirus reached the pandemic stage, East Chicago-native Arlonda Johnson Dickerson was most concerned about the well-being of her staff at Ivy Tech Community College-Central Indiana where she is Director of the Express Enrollment Center.
Little did she know that by the end of March, she would be fighting for her life. While busy in her role as overseer of employees in her department, she admitted that, “Never in a million years would I have thought that this virus would connect so close to home (to me).”
“We watch the news and see other countries and states go through floods, tornadoes, and sickness that never touch down in Indianapolis and surrounding areas the way this did. I don’t mind telling you that I almost died. Did you hear me, I almost died.”
Though nowhere near the age of the most severely impacted demographic, the 47-year-old Dickerson is African American, the population most frequently diagnosed positive.
She was at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital for 50 days, spending 35 days on a ventilator in ICU. At the onset of Coronavirus, many considered patient reliance on a ventilator to be a virtual death sentence. Early reports from China, the United Kingdom and Seattle recorded mortality rates as high as 90 percent. Though much improved since then, it remains a daunting proposition.
Dr. Richard Cardillo told WRTV-Indianapolis, IN a news story on Dickerson’s remarkable recovery, that patients who require a ventilator develop an inflammatory condition in the lung – lacking the oxygen or energy to breathe on their own. He said the healing process is lengthy, and there is little the medical profession can do to expedite the process.
Dickerson beat the odds and left the hospital down a corridor flanked with ecstatic, cheering care givers. She felt nothing but heartfelt gratitude for their role in her recovery from COVID-19.
The path back will require time. Dickerson said, “My recovery is a journey and I still have monitoring daily from the hospital. I have a nurse, an Occupational Therapist, and Physical Therapist who visit me weekly.”
But there was another essential to her miracle. She explains, “I prayed constantly and enjoyed prayer from so many. I thank God for pulling me through. I would not have made it without Him. Prayer works!”
In reflection, she noted, “Sometimes we take things for granted. It was a real eye-opener for me and my family. I will never take life for granted ever again. I still can’t walk by myself, I lost the nerves in my right thigh, my energy level is still low but I finally got my taste back. I am here! God saved me!”
Dickerson has a message for everyone, as we continue to deal with this pandemic. She said, “I want you to look at my experience as an example. Let’s make sure we are doing our part and not spreading the virus. You can be a carrier and not show symptoms. Get tested, wear a mask, and if possible, gloves. Germs can travel further than six feet. It can go as far as 15-21 feet.”
With all the medical advancement and vaccines research, Dickerson insists that nothing is more powerful than prayer. “Get on your knees daily and ask God to cover you and your family.” She says she is eternally grateful to family, friends, colleagues, parishioners and many others who lifted her name to the Lord throughout her arduous ordeal.
Finally, Dickerson summed her challenge with the word of God that inspired her miraculous victory.
“Therefore, I tell you whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours” Mark 11:24, as well as, “For nothing will be impossible with God” from Luke 1:37.
The last scripture capsulizes the faith she held on to for almost two months in hospitalization. Deuteronomy 31:8 reads: “Do not be afraid or discouraged for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Arlonda Johnson Dickerson says her experience with COVID-19 is living proof of those words.