JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — An East Tennessee COVID long-hauler is suing her employer after she says she caught COVID-19 at work. Keniethea Tadlock has been fighting for compensation for nearly two years.

She is able to walk short distances now outside, something she was not able to do a month ago. While she is regaining some of her strength since her first interview with WATE’s Don Dare 14 months ago, she faces major surgery next month and is still fighting legal issues with her former employer.

Tadlock was admitted to Jefferson Memorial Hospital in late September 2020. In critical condition for nearly a month, she almost died. While grateful to be alive, she remained sick. Her doctor diagnosed her condition as post-COVID syndrome with a number of lingering effects. For nearly a year, she depended on a wheelchair to get around, her husband always there to help. Her symptoms included pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Bedridden in August of 2021, Tadlock wanted to talk about the battle she was having with her former employer, Blossman Gas. It was at the company’s former location in North Knoxville that Tadlock says she came down with the virus.

“It’s horrible. It’s horrible being 46 years old and not being able to do no more than I can. Watching my grandchildren play and not being able to play with them, it is heartbreaking. We’re kind of hoping and praying that I get better as we go. But where I am right now is where they say is probably as far as I’m going to get,” said Tadlock.

At one time in their battle, the couple faced about a thousand pages in unpaid medical bills after insurance benefits from Blossman Gas maxed out.

For a year she fought with the Worker’s Compensation Board to pay the bills. Compensation had been denied due to “no evidence of her being exposed at work,” the board said. However, in December of last year, her big hospital bill was paid off. Adjustments came from the state workman’s compensation, according to the record.

Still, the battle continues with Blossman. A letter from Tadlock’s attorney says in her civil suit that the company offered $10,000 to resolve the case. No way, she says.

“I am now permanently disabled from COVID-19,” said Tadlock.

Last November, she was one of the first COVID survivors to receive total disability in Tennessee. She trusts her former employer recognizes the suffering she’s been through.

“At this time, it’s not laying the blame on them, it’s just, having them do what is right,” said Tadlock.

While she waits for surgery in June, Tadlock’s faith remains strong.

“God’s got me. He’s brought me through it. He’ll bring me through whatever He decides He wants for me,” said Tadlock.

Tadlock’s former employer Blossman Gas says it does not comment on pending litigation.

In a month, Tadlock faces major surgery, it frightens her and she still has what’s called brain fog.

“I can eat something for breakfast and you can ask me what I ate for breakfast, I couldn’t tell you. It is just a short-term memory loss,” said Tadlock.

In June, she will have a gastrectomy for an ulcer in her stomach. Most of her stomach will be removed, a small pouch left behind, the surgeon then rejoins the esophagus to the small intestines.

Recently scientists at the National Institute of Health began recruiting about 20,000 people to get to the bottom of long COVID. They are looking at more than fatigue and brain fog, they want to know why people like Tadlock develop more serious health issues from the coronavirus.