Story of survival: Keeping faith while fighting coronavirus

From left, siblings Donald Landzettel of Mahwah, New Jersey, Betty Kasperski of Georgetown and Bob Landzettel of Mahwah during a recent family gathering in New Jersey. Ms. Kasperski is currently in home quarantine following hospitalization and recovery from coronvirus; her brother Donald passed away from COVID-19 in late March. Submitted photos

GEORGETOWN — Winning the personal battle against COVID-19 is bittersweet for Georgetown resident Betty Kasperski.

She survived. An older brother did not.

Her older sibling, Donald John Landzettel, 82, of Mahwah, New Jersey, passed away Sunday, March 29 after a short but fierce battle against the coronavirus.

“It has not totally hit me yet,” said Ms. Kasperski in an April 9 phone interview. “They couldn’t have a funeral, of course. There will be a service — maybe this summer.”

Released Monday, April 6, from Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford following a week’s stay for treatment, Ms. Kasperski is on the road to recovery. But she still is confined to her Georgetown home, quarantined under doctor’s orders until April 20.

“Nobody can come in my house,” she said.

Her phone chimes punctually several times a day. She gets checked on four times a day. “Every four hours,” said Ms. Kasperski.
While hospitalized, she received oxygen for several days, but never deteriorated to the point for the need of a ventilator.

Betty Kasperski

An author of four books, she was for the most part out of touch with family, many friends and her colleagues in the writer’s world.

“I couldn’t talk long because I would start coughing. And, of course, the world was trying to reach me, but I couldn’t take those calls. I had to focus on healing. I got a lot of texts. I didn’t check Facebook for two weeks,” said Ms. Kasperski, noting she had not checked her email in several weeks. “There must be about 300 of those. I’m just beginning to get back up with people.”

Her coronavirus story began in mid-March with a trip to New Jersey to celebrate the 85th birthday of her other brother, Robert Landzettel, and to celebrate with family her most recent book, “Generations” which features 45 chapters and contributions from 22 different people, some living and some who have long since passed.

“I was bringing it to the family in preparation for my brother’s 85th birthday on St. Patrick’s Day. I traveled to New Jersey on March 13,” she said. “The grand reveal was around 9 o’clock Friday night. March 13. Everybody screamed and danced and was so thrilled. It was just a joyful event in all of our lives, that it was completed after four years of work …”

Her trip included reunions with several family members at a several places in New Jersey. On March 14, she visited her other older brother Donald and his wife in Mahwah and presented a copy to her brother, who contributed about six articles in the book.

She had lunch with them and was seated right next to brother Donald. “I am sure that was my exposure,” said Ms. Kasperski. “He was perfectly healthy. He looked fine, the regular Donald as far I was concerned,”.

She stayed at the home of her other brother Robert, who resides in the same condominium, and went to worship the next day, Sunday, March 15.

Erring on the side of caution, she decided to head home from New Jersey “before Gov. Carney shut down the bridge.” She made the 200-mile journey back to Georgetown

“Everything was hunky-dory as far as I was concerned, and as far as New Jersey was concerned,” said Ms. Kasperski.

Everything appeared normal.

Then, as the week progressed, Ms. Kasperski began to feel a little sick. “I was just tired; low-grade fever never higher than 100.4 … limited appetite,” she said.

Donald and Gail Landzettel of Mahwah, New Jersey, were married 58 years. Ms. Landzettel, older brother of Georgetown resident Betty Kasperski, passed away March 29 atfer a brief battle with COVID-19. Ms. Kasperski was hospitalized with the coronavirus for a week at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and is on the road to recovery.

Meanwhile, word came that week that her brother Don had taken ill.

“He spiked a 104 fever. They kept him,” said Ms. Kasperski. “He called me on that Thursday to say he was in the hospital.”

Her brother informed her that he may have the coronavirus, but he expected to get out soon.

Unfortunately, his situation worsened. “Reports were getting worse,” she said. “Eventually, he was on the ventilator.”

Back in Delaware, Ms. Kasperski’s condition was not improving.

“Nothing too severe. No severe cough,” she said. “I stayed home. My son was getting more concerned.”

By the following weekend she was much weaker.

She contacted her primary care physician, Georgetown Dr. Jona Gorra. Friends recommended she go to the hospital.

“But I resisted. I am strong independent woman,” said Ms. Kasperski.

Finally, she agreed to go to the hospital. That was Monday, March 30.

“And my son had to tell me that my brother passed on Sunday the 29th,” said Ms. Kasperski. “That, obviously, was a huge blow.”

At Nanticoke, she was tested twice for the coronavirus. She underwent a chest x-ray and CT scan. “They took more blood than I thought I had,” Ms. Kasperski recalled.

She was hospitalized from Monday, March 30, to Monday, to April 6.

“The best day in the hospital was when the doctor came in at 9 o’clock this past Monday, the 6th, and said ‘You beat the virus.’ That was good,” said Ms. Kasperski. “I got excellent care at Nanticoke. I’m not saying anything bad about the hospital. They were wonderful.”

A native of northern New Jersey, Ms. Kasperski moved to Delaware in 2004. Her career history includes years as a business leader and real estate broker, property manager, educator, trainer and author.

Ms. Kasperski is a Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary International’s recognition of individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, of $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation.

Active in several writers’ groups, she is vice-president of the Delmarva Christian Writers Association based in Georgetown.

She has authored four books: a novel based on true events, “Severed Yet Whole,” 2012, two short story anthologies, “Family Treasures,” 2015 and “Moonlight Memories,” 2018. Her latest work, “Generations-A Historical Anthology of Family History and Writings” has just been released in 2020.

All of her works are available on Amazon.com.

A member at Georgetown Presbyterian Church, Ms. Kasperski is a lay minister there.

“I got my credentials in 2012. I’ve always been a person of deep faith,” she said. “Throughout my life I’ve had many challenges and, unfortunately tragedies. My father died when I was 15. But I have never been angry at God or blamed God. God has brought me through.”


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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