Fiancée of Ebola Victim Reflects on 'Nightmare' - NBC Bay Area

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Fiancée of Ebola Victim Reflects on 'Nightmare'

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    Fiancée of Ebola Victim Reflects One Year Later

    Liouse Troh, fiancée of Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan, is still recovering from the Ebola panic that gripped North Texas and the nation for weeks last year. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015)

    It's been one year since Louise Troh's life went from blissful happiness to bitter sorrow in just a matter of days when her fiancé died of Ebola.

    Now, she spends most of her time taking care of her grandchildren, but Troh is still recovering from the Ebola panic that gripped North Texas, and the nation, for weeks last year.

    "Right now, I'm living with my hurt. I'm living with my pain. I'm living with my nightmares," Troh said. "You won't even imagine. If you fall asleep and just open your eyes, it's like right there. It doesn't go away."

    On Sept. 20, 2014, Thomas Eric Duncan – known as Eric to family and friends – arrived in Dallas from Liberia to be with Troh. They'd met 20 years earlier at a refugee camp, but had not seen each other in 16 years.

    "We saw war in our country," Troh said. "We went through a lot."

    They had a child together, and Troh said they still loved each other dearly.

    "He came here to help me and he promised to help me," she said.

    But just two days into his visit, Duncan seemed to be sleeping too much. On the third day, he developed a headache and fever.

    What happened over the next few days would become international news. Duncan went to the hospital and was sent home, diagnosed with a sinus infection.

    Two days later, he went back to the hospital in an ambulance.

    And two days after that came the real diagnosis: Ebola.

    Troh only saw Duncan a couple of times after that, through glass. Sept. 29 was the last time she saw his face.

    Duncan's mother told Troh that alone, in isolation, he cried and prayed to see his son, who had been away at college.

    And once the public learned of Duncan's diagnosis, panic set in. Friends and strangers turned against them.

    "It's like the victim is the bad guy," Troh said. "So we have become the bad people. They don't talk about us. They don't see my heart, they don't think about my sons, his children, they don't think about that."

    Troh, her youngest son and two friends who lived with them were not allowed to leave their Dallas apartment. A cleaning crew then came and destroyed every single belonging she had.

    Her children and grandchildren could not go to school, and parents of other students pulled their kids out, too.

    Troh and her family were quarantined for three weeks, and the family had to be moved to a more secure location away from the media and the fear of their neighbors.

    Troh credits Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins for helping her through it. She said he showed her kindness when few others did.

    "He comfort me. He [Jenkins] said, 'I am here to talk to you, I'm here to treat you as one of my own the way I would like to be treated,'" Troh said.

    "I lifted my head up," she said. "And I take a deep breath."

    Jenkins recently visited Troh again.

    "Ebola came in a flash and left as quickly," Jenkins said. "But for people like Louise and her family, it's having a lasting impact on their lives, so they're still in my thoughts and prayers."

    "What happened to Eric was so sad," Troh said. "He did not get to live to tell us his experience, what happened to him when he was in the hospital."

    But she believes Duncan's death had a purpose: to bring attention to the Ebola crisis in Africa, and she believes his death also led to increased research and funding toward Ebola vaccines.

    "So, his death counts," Troh said. "His death is very meaningful."