From shoulder pain to breathing with a ventilator, a metro specialist’s journey with COVID-19

ATLANTA — Sojourn Johnson sees what coronavirus does to patients on a daily basis. She’s a wound care specialist at Piedmont Newnan Hospital in Metro Atlanta.

When she started having pain in her shoulder at the end of March, she never thought she would be put into a medically induced coma as her body fought off COVID-19.

“It was interesting to know later that I had COVID, because I started out with just the left shoulder pain and from there I went to acute bronchitis. From there it went into double pneumonia,” Johnson said.

Johnson told Channel 2 anchor Jorge Estevez that the double pneumonia got worse.

“My primary doctor had called me from home, from his cell phone, and he told me after talking to me that he could tell I was a respiratory distress. So, he suggested that I go to the ER and that he was going to make a phone call to let them know that I was on my way. So, it went quickly, once I got there,” Johnson said.


Immediately placed on a ventilator, Johnson would stay on the machine for about a week as her unconscious body battled COVID-19. When she awoke, she wasn't sure what had happened.

"So, what did you ask the medical staff? What did they tell you?” Estevez asked Johnson.

"I basically asked some of the nurses what had happened and that’s when I found out that I had COVID and that I was in ICU, and I had been on a ventilator," she said.

Estevez wanted to know what precautions Johnson had taken in her hospital job and if she knew where she may have contracted the virus.

“I don’t know when (I got it.)” Johnson said. “As always, we always take precautions anyway when you work in a wound care setting. But this was totally unexpected for me because I had no symptoms. Again, and that was the most surprising thing for me.”

What was also surprising for her, were the messages that her colleagues left her on her hospital window.

“Looking out that window and seeing those messages scribbled outside of your hospital room, how did that affect you?” Estevez asked Johnson.

“Actually, it made me cry tears of joy and thankfulness. (It) touched me,” Johnson said.

Her recovery continues at home. Johnson said she is getting better every day. Now, she wants to share a message about testing.

“This is something very serious. Please do not take it lightly. If you have the symptoms, if you’re not sure, if you think you have the symptoms, I would just get tested,” Johnson said.

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