Published on September 17, 2021

New Albany Woman Battling Back from COVID-19

Tonya VictoryNEW ALBANY, Mississippi—Tonya Victory caught COVID-19 just before Christmas 2020 and, while she recovered from the virus months ago, she continues to struggle in its aftermath.

“I was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Dec. 19,” Victory says. “It started getting worse to where I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t get out of bed. All I did was just sleep.”

Her doctor ordered oxygen for her at home, which helped. But Jan. 2, Victory ran into trouble when she walked to the bathroom without it. “By the time I got there, my feet turned ice cold and I couldn’t even feel them,” she says. “I managed to scoot myself across the floor to the kitchen table.” She called 9-1-1, and when she arrived by ambulance at the local hospital, “My temperature was 103 degrees, my blood pressure was up, and my blood sugar was up,” says Victory, who had no health issues prior to COVID-19.

She developed pneumonia in both lungs and within a few days was placed on a ventilator and transported to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, where she spent almost three weeks in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit. “When I came off the ventilator, I couldn’t move my arms and legs,” she says. “I couldn’t speak.”

Once she moved to NMMC’s Pulmonary Step-down Unit, things finally started looking up. “Therapists would exercise my arms, hands and legs. Just sitting up was hard work,” Victory says. “I stood up for the first time January 24th with a therapist holding me on each side.”  

On Jan. 26, Victory transferred to NMMC’s Rehabilitation Institute, a 28-bed inpatient unit where she spent several hours a day doing physical, occupational and speech therapy. “It was like being a child again,” she says. “They showed me how to take care of myself – how to brush my hair, brush my teeth—with limited use of my hands.”

Victory left the Rehabilitation Institute on Feb. 10. “Honestly, I thought I would never be able to get better,” she says. “But they pushed me to do it. When I left, I could feed myself and dress myself with a little help.” In the following weeks, she briefly returned to work as a certified nursing assistant but encountered a medical setback with her lungs.  

“COVID-19 has affected everything. I’m not go-go-go like I used to be,” Victory says. “It has been a big adjustment.” Yet she is quick to credit her medical team and her family for helping her push through. “Their support gives me the strength to get going and to push harder every day,” she says.

National Rehabilitation Awareness Week is Sept. 20-26. To learn more about NMMC’s Rehabilitation Institute and other services, visit

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