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Retired Brookings nurse helps administer vaccines after surviving COVID-19

Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 7:18 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -For some COVID-19 survivors, each day is a fight to get healthy and back to their usual selves. One retired Brookings nurse hopes by sharing her story, she will encourage others to get their COVID-19 vaccine. So they can avoid what happened to her.

Sue Karolczak is making sure no one has to go through what she’s endured. At the Swiftel Center in Brookings, she helps administer vaccinations. She has her oxygen by her side, just in case.

Back in October, Karolczak’s health took a turn for the worst.

Back in October, Karolczak’s health took a turn for the worst.
Back in October, Karolczak’s health took a turn for the worst.(Sue Karolczak)

“In the ICU, intubated with the ventilator on and the different fluids and the machines that they had me on,” said Karolczak.

On her birthday she was treated for a bladder and kidney infection. From there, her health continued to decline. She needed a breathing tube and a ventilator to survive. She eventually tested positive for COVID-19.

“It’s still unreal I guess for me because I was asleep, obviously. I was sedated when this was all happening. So I didn’t realize how sick I was,” said Karolczak.

Her nurse friends say she beat the odds.

“It was so emotional when I heard that she’d been flown out and that she was on the breathing tube. I didn’t think I was going to see her again. The chances of coming off of a breathing tube are really slim, most often people will die with COVID and a breathing tube,” said Nurse Practitioner, April Schneider.

Karolczak isn’t taking that fact lightly.

“There are reasons that I didn’t die and so if I could be helpful and be part of this whole process, I really am happy and blessed to be a part of that,” said Karolczak.

Getting to this point hasn’t been easy.

“It’s been baby steps along the way, but I am so blessed to be here,” said Karolczak.

Some days she felt too weak to get up.

“This was just me and my walker and my recliner where I spent a lot of time,” said Karolczak.
“This was just me and my walker and my recliner where I spent a lot of time,” said Karolczak.(KSFY)

“This was just me and my walker and my recliner where I spent a lot of time,” said Karolczak.

Each day comes with progress.

“Then this was my first day walking. Still had my oxygen on, but at least we were out walking,” said Karolczak.

"Then this was my first day walking. Still had my oxygen on, but at least we were out walking,”...
"Then this was my first day walking. Still had my oxygen on, but at least we were out walking,” said Karolczak.(KSFY)

“That was the first day that I went for my walk without my oxygen on,” said Karolczak.

“I hope everyone takes the time to appreciate every step you can take and breathe.”

“That was the first day that I went for my walk without my oxygen on,” said Karolczak.
“That was the first day that I went for my walk without my oxygen on,” said Karolczak.(KSFY)

Karolczak has since gotten vaccinated.

The current vaccines have been proven effective at preventing severe cases and hospitalizations. That’s why Karolczak hopes everyone gets their shot.

“Hopefully if it keeps one person from going through what I had to do. That’s what we need to do,” said Karolczak.

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