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Wanda Brandon of Terry first tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 1.

Some nine months later, her recovery is still a work in progress.

“People think you have COVID and get over it,” said Brandon, 58, the former assistant director for child nutrition at Hinds County Schools. “But there is so much lingering stuff. It has changed my life.”

Brandon’s list of complications includes pain, insomnia, depression, fatigue, weakness, crippling nerve damage in her right leg---even hair loss.

On Aug. 6, first-day jitters were in full bloom at Northwest Rankin Middle School in Brandon.

Everyone from students to staff were getting their bearings in a new building. And the adjustment had to be particularly arduous for eighth-grade art teacher Juliette Collier.

It was her first day back at work since a severe case of COVID-19 nearly killed her. At one point, her mother, Weezie Polk, was told: “You need to come see her, she’s probably not going to make it.”

Methodist Rehabilitation Center has announced Clinical and Support Service Employees of the Quarter for its Jackson hospital and external campuses.

For the third quarter of 2021, the honorees include Julie Bronson of Terry, an RN shift manager for MRC’s brain injury program; Sarah Simpson of Pearl, a therapy tech for MRC’s spinal cord injury program; Patricia Oyarce of Ridgeland, a physical therapist at Methodist Outpatient Therapy in Ridgeland; and Torrey Lenford of Monroe, La., office coordinator for Methodist Orthotics & Prosthetics in Monroe, La.

When Stephen “Step” Morgan wrecked his bike at the Ridgeland Trails, he knew he was hurt. But he had no idea his life was forever changed.

“At the time of my crash, I was sitting there waiting for help, thinking I was going to have to preach from a stool in a cast that Sunday,” said Morgan, who is director of admissions at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson and preaches regularly at area Presbyterian churches. “I had no idea that my life was in danger.”

He might not make it.”

That’s what doctors told Andrea Blackwell of Smithdale as they rushed her 24-year-old son, John, to a Jackson hospital on March 18. His oxygen level was dangerously low, due to a severe case of COVID-19.

“I was bluish-gray, that’s what one of my ICU nurses told me,” John said. “Obviously, I don’t remember that.”

John spent 106 days in Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, much of that time on a respirator.

For over four years, Robert Schafhirt of Gulfport has been driving to Methodist Orthotics & Prosthetic’s Hattiesburg clinic for his prosthetic needs.

“We make a day trip of it,” said his wife, Sharon. “Your health is the most important thing, so we would have gone anywhere that’s right for him. And we know we’re with the right people.”

It was her first visit to Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s new Recovery After COVID Clinic.

Yet Stacie Smith felt sure that clinic physician Dr. Michael Montesi would understand her symptoms. She’d already met the family practitioner when both rehabbed from COVID-19 at MRC.

“It was my first day of therapy, and I realized he had COVID just as bad as me, and he was walking without a walker or cane—that was very inspiring,” said the Jackson respiratory therapist.

Though Derrick Freeman and Mike Bossetta have often crossed paths in the therapy gym at Methodist Rehabilitation Center’s stroke recovery program over the past month, neither may have realized just how much they have in common.

Both have a background in law enforcement. The 64-year-old Bossetta worked as a detective for the New Orleans Police department for 27 years, while the 39-year-old Freeman is a sergeant for the Adams County Sheriff’s Department.

And both suffered strokes despite being relatively fit and healthy.

Christy Henderson of Pearl gave up horseback riding after Parkinson’s disease made it difficult to stay in the saddle.

“I get so stiff when I’m up there, it’s not fun anymore,” she said.

But Henderson still gets a kick out of helping people with special needs enjoy the sport at RideABILITY Therapeutic Riding Center in Brandon.

So when a series of recent falls threatened that pastime, Henderson took action. She started doing LSVT Big, an intense therapy program for movement problems related to Parkinson’s.

As she brushed her teeth one morning in November, Trenton Miller noticed something odd.

Water was dripping from the left side of her mouth. By afternoon, her adjacent facial muscles were also on the fritz.

The symptoms could have signaled a stroke. But Miller was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, a type of paralysis that temporarily freezes muscles in the face.

“I had no expression,” said the 52-year-old Madison resident. “It’s weird to look at yourself in the mirror and not be able to move your face as hard as you try.”

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