INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WXIN) An Indianapolis woman is home after more than a month in Japan and three weeks in quarantine. She returned Friday, after what seemed like a never-ending cruise on the Diamond Princess- amid an epidemic.
The scariest part is she tested positive for COVID 19, February 16th.
“It was scary for one thing because we didn’t really know what that entailed except for people dying from it,” said Joyce Black.
Joyce and her husband Joe Black boarded to Diamond Princess in Tokyo on January 20th.
“The cruise was fine and we went and did our thing until the last day of the tour. And we were all sat down and thought we were going to get on they said nope, there’s a virus and we can’t go,” said Joyce.
They were notified they couldn’t leave February 2nd, when they were leaving from Okinawa. Originally they were set to return to leave for Indianapolis February 4th, but that was no longer the plan.
“For the next 10 days, we were confined to our cabin, Joe and I together. It wasn’t bad. We had a television, we had a balcony, and we could walk out on the balcony. We never left the room our food was delivered to us. And we were quite comfortable,” she said.
Both of them were tested days later for the virus. Joyce tested positive.
“I did have a fever that day but up until that time I had no cough, no runny nose, no symptoms, so I was quite shocked,” said Joyce.
She wasn’t taken to the hospital by ambulance, but by bus where curtains covered the windows.
“I would say it was more like sheep being led to the slaughter because we didn’t know where we were going. We didn’t know what was going to happen. We just didn’t know anything other than the fact that we had to get off the boat,” she said.
Meanwhile, her husband, Joe tested negative and was given the option to leave and fly to California with the rest of those on the ship who were cleared to return. He declined.
“He said all he could think about was me being in a big ward with plastic. He says ‘I haven’t left you in 54 years, I’m not going to leave you now,’” she said.
He was sent to a dormitory, quarantined for 10 days with no communication or physical contact.
This now the second quarantine, equalling 20 days.
Joyce was hospitalized, alone, and could not contact her husband or family in Indianapolis.
“There was no medicine what so ever. At any time. They don’t give you medicine,” she said.
Instead, they continued to check her vitals and continued to make her wash her hands and exercise in the room.
“I found out that I have not been washing my hands properly. I would put soap on my hands and immediately rub them and put them under the water you don’t do that,” said Joyce.
February 26th, she was released but wasn’t clear to return without her medical records. She got them the next day and was ready to return to central Indiana.
February 28th, she landed in Indianapolis without those she left with, her husband and her luggage.
“It doesn’t seem fair. He had no symptoms at any time. His temperature has been checked three times a day, and he’s fine. But yet he can’t leave. I was in the hospital for 10 days walked out. Got on a plane two days later and I’m here and he’s not,” said Joyce.
An experience of a lifetime both are sure they’ll never forget.
“To me, it was a very wonderful experience. Something I will never ever forget. The things we did and saw that will fade. This won’t,” said Black.
If she could pass along any advice it would be to wash your hands properly.
“You put the soap on your hands, you rub it around, go between your fingers, across your knuckles to your wrists. Then you stick it under the water and wash it off,” said Joyce.
Her husband Joe is at a hotel in Narita, Tokyo. He’s been cleared but still awaiting travel accommodations.
(This story was originally published on March 5, 2020)