After severe symptoms, Arvada officer recovers from COVID-19

Pregnancy, mother’s illness added to stress during recovery

Casey Van Divier
cvandivier@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 5/13/20

Battling a confirmed case of the coronavirus would have been difficult enough on its own —but for Roxzana Santacruz, an investigator with the Arvada Police Department, the situation was heightened …

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After severe symptoms, Arvada officer recovers from COVID-19

Pregnancy, mother’s illness added to stress during recovery

Posted

Battling a confirmed case of the coronavirus would have been difficult enough on its own —but for Roxzana Santacruz, an investigator with the Arvada Police Department, the situation was heightened by her mother also testing positive shortly after she did, as well as Roxzana being 27 weeks pregnant.

“It was just a very difficult time. Doctors don’t know if it’s going to affect babies in the long run, and with my mom, her health deteriorating also affected me,” Santacruz said.

The officer first began showing symptoms around March 17.

Even though she assumed her allergies were probably responsible for her headache and sore throat, she went ahead and got tested for the virus three days later. In the days that followed, her symptoms began to worsen while new ones appeared — her fever was consistently over 100 degrees, she lost her sense of taste and smell and she felt short of breath with severe chest pain.

“It was all worsened because I was pregnant and I got really dehydrated. I lost over 20 pounds,” she said. “It was just a sad experience.”

MORE: Almost three weeks in the hospital fighting for life

As her own condition continued to get worse, Santacruz soon learned that her mother, Ines, was also feeling sick, leading up to Ines being placed on a ventilator early in the morning March 27.

“She was very critical and there were two times they told us we needed to be prepared,” Santacruz said. “The stress of that and being isolated made it harder to get through. I don’t know if that had an effect to my symptoms lasting so long.”

Those symptoms prompted Santacruz to make several visits to the hospital. However, she was told they could not treat her the first few times; she was only briefly admitted at her last visit and treated for her severe dehydration, she said.

MORE: A Lakewood man's story of survival

But as March came to a close, she began to see signs of improvement, she said.

“Each day, I would notice that the fever started subsiding more,” she said. “It was more of a gradual recovery.”

Likewise, her mother recovered and was able to be taken off her ventilator after 10 days, much to the family’s relief, Santacruz said.

But despite her recovery beginning in late March, as of early May, there are some effects of the virus that remain.

“My strength is not the same. I still have the leg aches,” she said. “And the fear still lingers because I don’t know if I’m immune to it. I don’t want to have to go through this again.”

The officer still doesn’t know where she picked up the virus, especially seeing as her husband had been doing most of the shopping so she wouldn’t have to take unnecessary risk during her pregnancy. Further, working in investigation, she doesn’t go out into the community on patrol, she said.

But what the officer does know is that she and the rest of the police department have been diligent about making sure the virus doesn’t affect anyone else in the department.

“The minute Rozxana felt anything, she immediately was taken care of and sent home,” said detective Dave Snelling, spokesperson with the Arvada Police Department. “We have a lot of protocols in the department and our city facility staff are super diligent in their cleaning. As a city, we’re very well taken care of.”

Snelling and Santacruz added that it’s up to each individual person to practice a similar level of caution whenever they leave the house.

“There’s going to be more people out there” now that the stay-at-home order has expired, Snelling said, “and that’s all the more reason for people to follow these social distancing guidelines. This is really a personal responsibility.”

Meanwhile, the department’s dedication to in-house safety has been the main reason Santacruz felt comfortable returning to work after her symptoms had subsided, she said.

“It had made me scared to leave the house, but I knew as far as coming into work it was going to be safe,” she said.

And just as helpful as the safety precautions taken by the department was the support shown to her by her coworkers.

“They would call me every day,” Santacruz said. “With everything I was going through, they supported me throughout the whole time.”

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