Local 73-year-old COVID-19 survivor still facing long road to recovery

Posted at 9:02 PM, Nov 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-29 22:17:45-05

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – News 3 first met Betty Sinclair six months ago, speaking to her in the hospital right before she was discharged as a COVID-19 survivor.

At 73 years old, Sinclair beat the odds. She spent 49 days in the hospital, fighting for her life on a ventilator.

Sunday, we caught up with her at her Chesapeake home.

“I’m feeling much better,” Sinclair said. “I can’t thank God enough. It’s just a blessing to be here.”

After spending several weeks in the hospital, Sinclair finally got to go home in May. Sentara Obici Hospital staff gave her a triumphant send off to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.”

Sinclair’s family patiently waited outside the hospital with signs that read, “Welcome Home Betty.”

“I was on a walker when I came home,” said Sinclair.

Sinclair endured four grueling weeks of rehab to regain her strength. By June, she no longer needed the walker, but she said it was no easy feat.

“It was difficult,” she said. “The people I had were very good, very conscientious. They pushed me on some of the exercises.”

Sinclair’s journey to recovery, however, isn’t over. She’s still dealing with the impacts of the virus several months later, including possible damage to her vocal cords.

“It’s better than it was, but it strains to talk,” said Sinclair. “Now, I’m just fighting the breathing. Sometimes I have to gasp for air, and sometimes I choke on liquids.”

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across Hampton Roads, Sinclair said she’ll most likely spend Christmas the same way she spent Thanksgiving – without her family and without her great grandkids.

“I have two new great grandbabies, and I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize them,” she said. “So, we’re not going to do it. We’re not going to gather.”

Sinclair’s daughter, Angela Barnes, said she’s grateful to have her mother here for the holidays, even if gatherings are virtual.

“We could have been on the unfortunate end and not having her here this holiday, so we’re thankful for that,” said Barnes.

Sinclair has a message for those ignoring CDC recommendations.

“It breaks my heart to see anyone out at any time now without a mask, because this is serious,” Sinclair said. “Some people don’t think it could happen to them, but COVID is airborne, so you don’t know where it’s going to happen.”

Doctors told Sinclair it may take a year before she fully recovers. It’s a fight she’s determined to beat.

“It’s a long road to recovery, and I know that and I’m on that road,” Sinclair said. “Hopefully, in another six months, I’ll be doing even better.”

Sinclair’s road ahead is full of family support and hope.

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