MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - One Horry County family is in the middle of an ugly battle against COVID-19.
“We’re going to praise God through the trouble because we can’t let COVID-19 or anything else get the glory,” said Etta Greene Carter, an Horry County educator who tested positive for the virus.
It’s an almost unfair fight as the invisible enemy attacked her and her entire family last month.
“I remember getting to the hospital, got her in the hospital. They didn’t want us to stay, and I said, ‘Listen, I’m not going to leave her until I know a medical professional comes and takes her,’” Carter said, recalling what happened the day her twin sister, Rhetta Jean Greene, began to fall ill. "She was just really weak, appetite up and down, and running a low-grade fever. "
Etta said her sister was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, but was otherwise relatively healthy. When she felt ill, she self-quarantined and continued to follow the state health guidelines.
Rhetta’s symptoms got worse and Etta said they took her to the hospital. With no choice, she had to leave her sister there alone.
“The next thing we know we got the phone that said she was very sick, and that they were going to have to put her on the ventilator,” Etta said.
That was early in April, and Rhetta remains at the Medical University of South Carolina, still fighting for her life.
“To not be by your family’s side ... Rhetta’s my twin sister, we’re very close so that’s hard all together. I haven’t seen her in three weeks, and I don’t wish this on my worst enemy,” Etta said.
The same day Etta took her sister to the hospital, she also took her mother after she complained she was not feeling well.
Deloris Greene, 73, had developed asthma as an adult. Etta said doctors told her mother she had strep throat. They tested her for coronavirus, but sent her back home, and told her to come back for a follow-up visit.
Etta said two days later they returned. This visit was different. Deloris didn’t go home. The grandmother of 15 tested positive for COVID- 19.
“They decided they were going to keep her, they were giving her oxygen" Etta said. "She was there two or three days, I was talking to her over the phone, and I felt pretty good about where my mom was and then tables turn when her kidneys started to malfunction and they needed to give her dialysis.”
Etta said days later her mother passed away.
“I won’t give COVID-19 the glory and say that it killed my mom. No, the Lord took my mom home,” said Etta. “We’re going to miss mom over here because she was so many things to so many different people."
When she learned her mother passed away, Etta said she was in the hospital and diagnosed with COVID-19 as well.
“All of us had tested positive, but the kids didn’t have any symptoms, but I did so I separated myself from them in a room, but that night I ended up going back to the hospital myself,” Etta said.
Etta’s not sure how and why the virus attacked her family. Right now, she is just focused on beating it. She said when her sister first started experiencing symptoms they followed the guidelines to self-quarantine. They practiced social distancing and got connected with telehealth.
"They didn’t recommend for her to go get tested, they called in a prescription,” she said.
Etta feels not everyone who needs testing is tech savvy.
“It needs to be plastered everywhere as to where do you go to get tested and it can’t be you have to use a computer to do so,” she said.
Etta said she received so much information from different health professionals and feels it’s because doctors really don’t know much about the virus as they are learning about it everyday. That’s why the mother is encouraging her community to protect their families.
"Make sure you really try to stay home because they (doctors) really don’t know and you’re playing with your life, and you’re playing with the life of the people you love, because they’re still too many unknowns,” Etta said.
Right now she’s relying on her faith to help her fight for hers.
“It’s too many unknowns about this virus for everybody to be out and about. It is serious, and it has seriously attacked our family," she said.
Right now, doctors at MUSC said Rhetta is stable and no longer on a ventilator after they performed a tracheotomy procedure Monday. Etta said it’s hard not to be there at the hospital, and she is grateful for the doctors and hospital staff who provide care and updates about her sister’s condition.
“So we call twice a day because we don’t want to bombard them but we want to get an update,” said Etta.
Etta said her second COVID-19 test results came back negative this week. While she doesn’t understand why the virus attacked her family and why her mom passed away, Etta believes God will see her through it all.
“God has given me a peace that surpasses worldly understanding,” she said.