A former Queen of the Snows at the St. Paul Winter Carnival was among the first people to test positive for COVID-19 in Minnesota.
Jilla Nadimi, the 2018 Queen of the Snows, shared a video describing what it was like to get a test and what the waves of symptoms felt like in the weeks that have passed since she first began feeling ill.
"I had a fever. I had extreme body pain. I was screaming in the night. I had joint pain and eye pain," said Nadimi, who had to enter HealthPartners Clinic on Wabasha Street in St. Paul through a back door where she was met by staff wearing hazmat suits.
"I called the coronavirus hotline ... they recommended a place for me to go get tested," she said. "I got into the parking lot and they said 'call us and we'll direct you on how to enter the building.'
"They said drive to the back of the building, go to the dumpsters, enter in through that door. When I entered in through that door people were there wearing hazmat suits. They walked me through until I got into an appointment area and waited for the doctor."
She said the doctor was wearing a hazmat suit and a face shield, but after going through a "painful" swab of her nose and mouth the doctor returned to her room without a hazmat suit because "he was positive I did not have COVID-19."
She self-quarantined despite her doctor's opinion, which she said she would've had to do anyway because she felt "so poorly." Three days later, the 29-year-old from St. Paul received word that she tested positive for COVID-19.
She suspects that she got the virus during a recent visit to New York City.
Her symptoms changed every few days. The first three days she had a headache, pain behind her eyes, fever, extreme fatigue and body pain. Days 3-6 she felt fine, leading her to believe that she had the flu.
Days 7-11 is "where it gets really scary," Nadimi said, noting that she had a dry cough, shortness of breath, chest tightness, body pain, extreme fatigue and a lack of appetite because eating made it hard to breathe.
"I was panting for air. I couldn't calm down," she said. "They consider I have a moderate level of COVID and that because of my breathing problems I had pneumonia, but not bad enough to come in and be on a ventilator or get oxygen."
"Luckily, I've been getting better," she said.
"I hope in some way I can instill a sense of calm. This is scary, this is really serious. It's been really hard for me. But their are very doable things we can all do to protect ourselves and our community and to prevent the spread of Covid."
Nadimi is still active with the St. Paul Winter Carnival. This past January she was one of four hosts on the broadcast of the 2020 King Boreas Grand Day Parade.