Lisa McGrayel of Noblesville shares her story of virus.
Lisa McGrayel of Noblesville shares her story of virus.
Noblesville mom Lisa McGrayel was working her part-time job for a food-delivery service when, all of a sudden, she didn’t feel quite right.
“I didn't realize anything was wrong until I was making a delivery and my legs felt like someone was drilling through the bones,” McGrayel, 53, Noblesville, said.
That was in mid-April, when Hamilton County was already a month into the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Dis-ease) pandemic.
“The virus never occurred to me at that point. I finished the delivery and went home and crawled in bed, told my husband (Ray) and kids I didn't feel well and was going to try to sleep,” she said.
“A couple hours later, I woke up freezing to death. I thought I might be in some trouble at that point. Told my husband to stay away from me. He was at his desk in our room; he didn't listen. I fell back to sleep. This was a Monday. I didn't wake up that I remember until Wednesday.”
McGrayel continued recalling losing track of time during those hours and days, as her story got more intense.
“Wednesday came with diarrhea, so I was in the bathroom and crawling under every blanket I could find, repeatedly until Friday. I would wake up, think, ‘OK, I am not having trouble breathing so I am OK. Go back to sleep. I coughed some, but never very bad. It would last for a couple minutes then I would go hours without coughing.”
She said, “Then came the hallucinations. I imagine the hallucinations were from being so dehydrated. I was trying to drink but couldn't keep up. I pinched skin off of my chest trying to get the spiders off. I had claw marks. It was awful.”
What was to happen next was hearing her deceased mom speak to her. “The only thing positive from that experience was as I was trying to get the spiders, my Mom said ‘Baby Lisa, there aren't any spi-ders.’ My mom passed away a couple years ago so it sure was nice to hear her voice again.”
McGrayel would then awaken from her hallucinations. “That was the turning point; my fever finally broke. It was Saturday, I think, before any of my friends or family knew I was sick. The thought of even picking up the phone to text them was not something I had the energy for.”
She said, “It was also at this time that I realized I had not smelled or tasted anything for a few days be-fore I got sick. I work in food delivery, so I was always telling customers that orders smelled good. I even knew that was one of the symptoms, but it went right over my head. I feel guilty about that.”
She said, “I had a cheeseburger that I thought was horribly bland, but it didn’t even strike a bell until I was recovering.”
McGrayel continued with her story.
“Once I started feeling better, I still thought I had made it through without respiratory issues. When I used my CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine (a common treatment used for ob-structive sleep apnea), it would cause me to go into a coughing fit,” she said. “After a couple days of not being able to use it, I mentioned it to my oldest son’s girlfriend who is a nurse and is doing re-search on COVID-19. She explained that my lungs were compromised and couldn’t handle the forced air. That was really the first time I got scared. I thought I was home free, fever gone, able to drink and feeling better. That was a moment that was really hard to come to terms with. I was not exactly out of the woods.”
Now, she had a reason to call her doctor. “We had a video conference. I explained my symptoms, and he didn't think testing at that point would be beneficial,” she said.
McGrayel was prescribed a pill that helped with the cough when she used the CPAP machine. Five more days passed. It took about five days until where it was not horrible. The doctor said once I was three days fever free, I could go back to work. I waited until seven days fever free to be sure. Even if I wanted to go back after three days, I was exhausted.”
She said, “Thinking was exhausting, let alone walking, getting in and out of the car, and everything that goes with delivering.”
It’s now been 28 days since that dreadful first night of her sickness. “I still don’t feel 100 percent,” she said. “I am having trouble concentrating.”
Responding to my questions, “has taken way longer than it should have,” she said.
She still doesn’t feel just right. “I have never before forgotten to rinse the soap out of my hair and I have (forgotten) twice in the last two weeks. Feel kind of crazy when that happens,” McGrayel said. “I have noticed I have been wheezing. Cigarettes, while I have never been a fan, have never bothered me, but now if I deliver where people smoke, I can feel it and hear it in my chest.”
McGrayel has thought about how she might have contracted the virus.
“I do not know exactly where I was exposed, but the nature of my job increased my odds,” she said. “We still have customers who request ‘hand it to me’ rather than contactless delivery. Or request no contact and meet us at the door.”
McGrayel would use sanitizer, wipe down the steering wheel and would come home and shower and wash her clothes.
She said, “My friend made me a mask, but I had already been exposed. With restaurants being closed where we could not wash our hands and relied on hand sanitizer (that is difficult to find), it made our jobs more difficult.”
She and her husband Ray McGrayel (a 1976 Noblesville High School grad) have six sons (including two sons still in school, Jackson, 17, and Ian, 14). When she was sick, one of her older sons and a niece did her grocery shopping, and a friend from her son’s taekwondo school made several trips to the phar-macy for her. “My family all ran low-grade fevers with some coughing. When I had the fever, I didn’t eat anything but crackers. The boys would check on me, but I was trying to keep everyone away,” she said.
“Without their help, it would have been difficult. My husband has medical issues that keeps him from being able to drive and our two teenagers at home can’t drive yet,” McGrayel said.
She got sick on a Monday and was fever free the following Monday. “After the fever broke, I had a low-grade fever for a couple days,” McGrayel said. “I feel incredibly lucky that it was not worse.”
She looked back, thinking about her decision to stay at her job. “When the quarantine started, I ques-tioned whether or not I wanted to work through it,” she said. “Besides the fact that I have bills to pay, my thought was that if I make 20 deliveries a day, that is at least 20 people who do not have to go out. Parents who wouldn't have to take their little ones out. People who are not in good health that wouldn't have to go out.”
McGrayel said, “So me getting sick and possibly exposing the very people I was trying to help is very hard to think about.”

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.