Libby resident opens up about testing positive for Covid-19 for second time

By Stacy Bender


“When I tested positive for Covid-19 the second time, I was in shock because I had developed a false sense of ‘immunity’ from the virus and believed that my system must have built up antibodies to prevent me from getting Covid-19 again.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.”

On August 6, 2020, Kaide Dodson of Libby was beginning to feel “a bit off.”  She had left her work as Principal at Libby Elementary School that afternoon feeling suddenly and extremely exhausted with an oncoming sore throat.  By that evening the pain in her throat had increased, her eyes began to burn, and she was finding it hard to engage in and comprehend conversations with her family.
As time wore on, Kaide found herself lying awake in bed that first night as her skin burned and she developed the shakes.  Come morning, her sore throat persisted and catching her breathe became difficult.  She looked for a thermometer and began wondering if she might need to stay home for the day when the phone rang.

Three days prior and completely symptom-free, Dodson had taken a Covid-19 test offered through her husband’s new health insurance program.  “Why not?” she thought of the test at the time, after all it was free. Little did she realize that roughly 72 hours later she would find out she had tested positive with the virus – for the first time.

“I remember hanging up the phone after hearing the news from the county nurse and just sitting on the floor in a stupor,” Kaide shared.  “My dogs were trying to lick and care for me as my emotions were running through my mind and I processed that I now had the Covid-19 virus.  When my mind cleared, I immediately began the contact-tracing process and was so grateful to later know that everyone I had been in contact would come to test negative themselves.”
Her experience thereafter would become an “intense roller-coaster ride.”  All initial symptoms would intensify as headaches, low oxygen levels, chills, pressure in her lungs and stomach, dizziness, loss of taste, blurry eyes, increased confusion, nauseousness, shooting pains, rapid heartbeats and an uncertainty for what each new day might bring became routinely experienced.

With time, Kaide learned how Covid-19 can become a problematic amplifier for an innumerous number of pre-existing conditions.  Her shingles and Meniere’s disease both became enflamed.  Following
weeks of testing and working closely with doctors, a prolapsed mitral valve with a minor regurgitation were also discovered.  Pre-existing or onset by Covid-19 remains unknown, as she had never before experienced heart issues, though several cases of such complications have been documented as directly correlated with the virus.

An overnight stay in the hospital and multiple trips to the ER would ensue before Kaide’s first-round of testing positive would begin to subside.  She would return to work on re-assignment within the Libby School District as per discussions held with Superintendent, Ron Goodman.  “At first, I was upset with having to step away from my duties as Principal for the remainder of this schoolyear,” Dodson shared.  “But in the end, I am so grateful that Mr. Goodman took that stance with me and required I slow down and continue focusing on my recovery.

“I still have residual effects from the virus,” Kaide shared the week of October 23 when she initially chose to open up and share her story.  “I’ve experienced hair loss, blurry vision that comes and goes, extreme phases of fatigue and occasional breathlessness.”

Then on Thursday, October 29, more unexpected news.  Kaide reached out to share her husband and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Detective, Brad Dodson, had recently tested positive for the virus.  Just days later – Monday, November 2 – Kaide would receive an additional call with news she had tested positive for the second time.  “The whole world turned upside down again.  What kind of havoc will this virus now wreak on my body?”

“I had heard about the mental toll of Covid-19, but I don’t believe that our family could have prepared for this.  This time through, I’m listening to my body more and reminding myself, ‘Kaide, we have been down this path before and even though it is awful, we can do it again.’”  Dodson shared in a recent email that while she works to again manage the symptoms which seem to affect her heart the most, she simultaneously has listened through the walls as her husband’s symptoms sound as if they’ve manifested more intensely in his lungs.  “I pray his wet cough does not develop into pneumonia.”

Through respectable candor and courage and despite her family’s ongoing trials with Covid-19, Kaide has remained steadfast in her want to share her story forward.  “I feel fortunate to have the support network of so many friends, family and medical professionals in my life. This virus is a lonely virus.  We experience so many symptoms associated with this ‘monster’ while alone.”

“I hope sharing my story with others will help them to find a sense of the support I have found in speaking with other survivors and ‘long-haulers’ thus far.  This time through, I have learned to listen to my body more, breathe, focus on my recovery and accept the fact that I am sick and need to heal.”

Following Kadie’s initial diagnosis in August, positive cases for Covid-19 in Lincoln County have increasingly multiplied.  From September 28 – October 9, 2020, fifty-six positive cases were recorded by the Lincoln County Health Department – an average of 5 cases/day.  One month later, between October 26 – November 7, 117 positive cases have been recorded – marking an increase of 50% and bringing the average to 10 cases/day.

As cases increase, so too has the community started to open up and speak out about their experiences.  “It’s like a game of chess,” shared Troy resident, Courtney Leighty.  “It mutates!  Its symptoms at first seemed simply the onset of severe allergies which I and my daughters have suffered from for years.  But this persisted – enflamed ear drums, sinus infections, dry skin, sore ribs.”

“But no fever!” Leighty added.  “I put a lot of weight into having a fever as being the major thing to watch.  So I didn’t push back to much after testing negative for the virus twice.  But one of my daughters remained adamite that this was not their regular seasonal ordeal and asked to get tested a third time — she tested positive.

The parallels and distinctive differences after testing positive for Covid-19 in the Dodson and Leighty households are equal in nature and remarkable when comparatively drawn out.

As Dodson and her husband prepared for yet another week of quarantine, rest, and recovery, she closed her thoughts this past Saturday morning with the following, “There are still so many unknowns.  I am not sure if my side effects will be worse this second time around.  Yet I am so fortunate to have the support of friends and family that care about me while on this roller coaster.”

“From one survivor to fellow community members who might one day find themselves in my shoes, I just want to say, ‘Take care of each other.  We can use these experiences to feed our fears and become bitter, or we can use them to reach out and help others through the journey.’”

“Appreciate your time on this beautiful earth,” Kaide closed.  Stay tuned for more soon, as the Leighty family picks-up the torch to share their story with that very sentiment Kadie put forth.
“Will we likely survive this?” shared Courtney in a recent telephone conversation.  “Indeed.  But this virus is very real.  And communication is key to understanding how to better care for ourselves and one another.”

Again, we at The Montanian would like to thank Kaide, Courtney, and all those who have recently been reaching out to share their stories as they actively work to recover from their varied levels of illness associated with the Covid-19 Virus.