Tift County Commissioner Melissa Hughes.

Tift County Commissioner Melissa Hughes.

TIFTON -- When Tift County Commissioner got the call that she had tested positive for COVID-19, she thought back to 1992.

That's when she was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that attacks the lungs.

She was on medicine for it for years.

"Every breath you feel like is your last breath because it hurts so bad," said Hughes.

Now fully recovered from COVID-19, she's thankful her bout with it wasn't severe.

She first started noticing symptoms on June 6. At first, she thought it was just sinus problems, but it kept getting worse day after day.

She went to see a doctor and took a strep test, as well as the COVID-19 test, which involved a long swab going back into her nose.

"I really believe they got some brain matter, that's how far [it went]," Hughes said.

She tested positive for strep, and then a couple of days later, she tested positive for COVID-19 as well.

Symptoms for COVID-19 can vary. Hughes, for instance, said she never had a fever. She did have a sore throat and disorientation.

"The only way I knew to explain it was I had a foggy brain," Hughes said. "I knew what I wanted to say in my mind, but it wasn't coming out right. I couldn't get my thoughts and speech together."

Quarantined for two weeks, she passed the time working in her garden.

"I'm just thankful to God mine wasn't severe," Hughes said.

She's also thankful for the support she received while recovering, with friends and family reaching out to her to encourage her and pray for her.

"It was very encouraging, it really was," said Hughes. "Especially with this virus - we're not sure about it. You hear about people dying from it, getting on a ventilator. When you get the call, you don't know what the next day is going to be like."

She encourages anyone who gets COVID-19 to not be ashamed of it.

"I want people to know it's not something to be ashamed of," she said. "This is something you can't help. If you test positive, you need to let people know in case they were around you. We need to let people know if we test positive."

Though her 14-day quarantine is over, Hughes is being cautious about going out.

"I'm going to give it a few more days," she said. "I don't want to infect anybody. That's the last thing I want to do."

She wants to line up an antibodies test, which will test her blood for COVID-19 antibodies. One treatment for patients fighting the disease is to receive blood from people with those antibodies.

"I want to see if I can contribute to that," she said.

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