Like most of us, life was normal for FC Dallas season ticket member and surgery nurse Susie Chung as recently as two months ago. She enjoyed FCD's first two matches of the season from the stands, cheering on her team as they earned four points of a possible six.
Chung also picks her on-call schedule around FC Dallas matches, that way there's rarely any conflicts. She's been going with her boyfriend for nine years, making it their preferred date night.
Then, as the COVID-19 pandemic quickly changed from a distant worry happening elsewhere to a major threat across the country, everything changed.
Chung's office stopped doing surgeries and their parking lot became a testing site for COVID-19. She was on the frontlines, with the area's sickest patients appearing to be sent their direction.
And then she started feeling ill.
A headache and stuffy nose was enough of a warning for Chung to stay home from work, just in case. The next day she had a fever. The day after that, her throat felt like it was closing up as she coughed uncontrollably. This was serious. Chung was able to get a test that day and received confirmation: She had COVID-19.
“I was most scared during the first two hours after I found out I was positive," Chung told MLSsoccer.com. "Everyone was freaking out, saying ‘I’m praying for you.’ No one says that when you have the flu. Physically I wasn’t too bad, but mentally I was starting to freak out.”
Chung's friends and family were immediately concerned. Instead of numbers on social media or the news, this had an impact on their inner circle. It made it feel extra real.
Her fellow staff members at work all got tested, and each result came back negative. Meanwhile, as Chung fought to get better, she recovered from home, saving a hospital bed for others dealing with worse conditions.
“I’m extremely grateful that I was never really that sick," she said. "I slept a lot, I was really fatigued and I coughed a lot. I felt like I had sandpaper in my throat, but I was fortunate to not be too sick.”
Once her throat started to improve, Chung knew that she turned the corner. After weeks of coughing refused to subside, she's healthy and symptom-free.
“I’m 26, so I think it’s better that it was me rather than our more vulnerable patients or staff members," Chung said. "It’s weird to say I’m grateful that it was me, not someone else.”
But Chung still can't go back to work.
With a shortage of tests across the country, Chung hasn't taken the required two straight negative tests to return to work. She's been furloughed in the meantime.
“As much as I got exposed to it during work, as much as I worked before getting sick, I feel like I’m not doing enough," Chung said. "I can’t wait to get back to work. I’ve looked into going to New York to help. I’m looking forward to see people safely and being useful again, just to help people.”