I began feeling sick the weekend of Mother’s Day 2021, and on the following Wednesday I tested positive for covid + pneumonia. I was encouraged to go to the hospital, but the doctor didn’t feel it was necessary just yet, so I got my meds and went home. By Monday, May 17th, I was admitted to the hospital with only 67% oxygen in my blood. I could barely move, barely breathe, and I was terrified. As I got worse, I thought about the things I hadn’t gotten to do. It was Mother’s Day and my mom’s birthday and I had planned a trip to see her, but had to cancel it because I got sick. I hadn’t seen my parents since February of 2018, and was worried that I wouldn't get another chance.
As I write this, I’m reliving memories of the horrible illness I suffered last year, and if I hadn’t lived through it I wouldn’t believe it. I don’t remember much after being admitted to the hospital. I remember trying to text someone close to me, and being scared because I was unable to make sense and I don’t remember most of our conversations. This is hard for me to comprehend. How can I have what looks like a conversation yet have no memory of it. As I got worse, the best I could do was send a selfie with an oxygen mask on while being surrounded by machines, tubes and wires. I do remember bits and pieces, but the dreams I had while sick were so much more real to me. I guess it was all the medication I was on. Even today I can remember those dreams far better than any of the dreams I’ve had each night since.
The first week I was in the hospital, they found blood clots in both lungs and couldn’t get my oxygen above 90% without 15 liters of oxygen running wide open 24/7. I was moved to the ICU and shortly after that, I slipped into a coma. I struggled with multiple organ failure of my lungs, kidneys and liver. I had to be put on dialysis and a ventilator. For the next 30 days I fought to breathe. I fought for my life. When I began to show signs of waking up, they removed the tubes and attempted to install a trachea. However, they didn’t realize they nicked a vein in the process, and my right lung began to fill with blood. I was lucky that they found it quickly, but putting me back on the ventilator was not an option now, so they had to find another way for me to breathe. By chance, an ECMO machine had just become available, literally at the moment they discovered the bleeding, and a team of 15 people went to work. If you don’t know, an ECMO machine takes blood out of the femoral artery in one thigh, oxygenates it, and returns it to the body through the other thigh. This circulates the newly oxygenated blood through the body when the lungs can’t. I spent 5 days on this miracle machine at a hefty cost of $50K per day!. A few months later, I was seeing a new doctor and telling him what I had been through, and he said I was very lucky that they caught the bleed so quickly. Typically, standard procedure is to open my chest to repair the lungs, but by yet another miracle they didn’t have to do that.
At this point, I had to be put into a medically induced coma for another 30 days while my body healed. During that time, my blood pressure got really high, and I suffered an intracranial hemorrhage on the left side of my brain. So, in addition to the damage covid did to my body, and the damage done when putting in a trachea, I now have nerve damage along the entire right side of my body. After 30 days, they felt I had healed enough and began to bring me out of the coma. But I wasn’t responding, and they felt the worst outcome was about to happen. They called my family in to say goodbye to me. My ex-husband brought my 3 kids up to see me, and instead of saying goodbye, they talked to me and tried to bring me out of it. By the grace of God, I was granted a miracle and the next day I woke up!
One of the scariest moments was waking up and being unable to talk. They told me I had to wait before they would let me speak. Ever since I was able to talk around the age of 2, I’ve talked the ear off of anyone around me. Not having the ability to communicate, and having no idea why I couldn’t was one of the scariest moments I endured during this illness. I remember trying to click with my tongue, and get my family to read my lips, which was frustrating because I couldn’t understand why they didn’t get what I was trying to say!