By Zach Solon | June 11, 2021 at 9:44 PM EDT – Updated June 11 at 11:52 PM
FAIR BLUFF, N.C. (WECT) – Last November, Sheila Johnson felt sick one morning, a feeling she describes as being similar to a heart attack.
Shortly after, the feeling went away and she decided to drive herself to the hospital to make sure she was okay.
“I didn’t get scared until they actually admitted me. That’s when the fear came over me,” said Johnson.
Johnson spent seven days in the hospital. She was diagnosed with COVID-19 and pneumonia. She says her doctors wanted to send her home on oxygen to help her recover. That was when she realized she wanted to set new goals for herself and live a more healthy lifestyle.
“I accepted the fact they had diagnosed me with COVID,” said Johnson. “But I was not going to accept the fact that I had to come home on oxygen. I refused that.”
Once Johnson returned to her Fair Bluff home, she wanted to take better care of herself.
She began exercising by walking the track at West Columbus High School. Now, over six months after the battle with the virus, she gets up every morning and walks down her driveway before jogging back up. She says she tries to do 12 laps per day, for a total of about four miles.
“I try to do an extra lap every day,” said Johnson. “By the time I’m done with the lap, it feels like I’ve done an extra 10 laps but that’s what I’ve got to do.”
She says all these months later, she still has trouble breathing at times, likely as a result of her battle with the virus.
Johnson’s family loves watching her recovery. She and her nieces have matching shirts that bear a motto Johnson says she lives by: “Believe it, speak it, and say it until you see it.”
“That’s my go-to. She’s my babysitter, she’s my counselor. Sheila is like a second mom,” Johnson’s family members said. “That’s mom’s sister but that’s our second mom.”
Johnson also credits her faith for guiding her through her recovery. She says her husband is a pastor and they attend church regularly.
“A lot of people say ‘well [getting COVID-19] changes you.’ For me, it’s made me better,” said Johnson. “And I say that because I took breathing for granted. You know, we think we are supposed to inhale, exhale, but at any given time God can take that from us.”
She says one of her ultimate goals is to make it five miles around Lake Waccamaw later this summer during the Take the Lake Challenge.
She knows everyone who has battled COVID-19 has had different experiences in their recovery, but she says walking and planting flowers is therapeutic.
“It worked for me,” said Johnson. “It made me a better Sheila.”
Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.