A Tuscaloosa woman diagnosed with COVID-19 in early April joined the Steve Shannon Morning Show Wednesday to recount her battle with the coronavirus and the heroic DCH nurse who comforted her when she thought she was dying.

Stephanie Buffaloe, a Tuscaloosa resident who owns and operates the Home Instead Senior Care center with her husband Bobby, said she woke up with a fever around the first of the month and soon experienced all the tell-tale symptoms of COVID-19, including shortness of breath, a dry cough and extreme chest pain.

"It was nothing like I've ever had before," Buffaloe said. "It was awful."

Like most people who have contracted the virus, Buffaloe thought it would never happen to her.

"I was the most cautious person," she said. "I was a hand sanitizer person before it was cool, my office was stockpiled with it. I was very socially isolated and was only around four people -- I could tell you who I was around, which is good when the Alabama Department of Public Health actually starts a file on you and they ask you all these wonderful questions."

Buffaloe said she only went to the store twice in the month of March, but did not wear a mask while shopping and suspects she was exposed to the virus during one of those trips.

Buffalo spent two weeks hospitalized in the DCH Health System, spending time in beds in both Tuscaloosa and Northport. As her condition worsened, there were times when the Tuscaloosa business owner thought she would lose the battle to the virus.

"I ended up being hospitalized because I just couldn't breathe and about five different times i basically could not catch my breath no matter what I did," Buffaloe said. "I was actually on oxygen in the hospital and you finally come to peace with, "I'm going to die, and I'm going to die alone." You just kind of get to a place where OK, if this is the Lord's will in my life then so be it, may His will be done."

Buffaloe said in some of her worst hours, the heroes at DCH were there to comfort her.

"The reason I ended up sharing my story is because there was sweet man named Patrick who is a nurse and he has had an asthma attack before and knew how it felt and he said you're not alone and you're going to be OK." Buffaloe said. "There are so many amazing people who are putting themselves into danger and exposing themselves to the virus so that they can be there for others. That just really gave me hope in humanity."

Buffaloe, who is now virus-free and recovering at home, also praised the Tuscaloosa community for its low case count and fatality rate as communities all over the world fare considerably worse.

"This is such a pandemic all over the world, we have friends in Spain that are still on vents right now, I have friends in Japan and friends in California in hospitals," she said. "We're so blessed because we have over 150 people who are positive and we just now have had one death. That's phenomenal."


Listen to Buffaloe's full interview below to hear about her experience and thoughts on how to re-open Tuscaloosa's economy and join Steve and the entire team at Townsquare Media Tuscaloosa in saluting Patrick and the other health care heroes waging war against COVID-19 here in the Druid City.

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