Coronavirus: "They Had to Put Me in a Coma"
Published 20 May 2020 • By Candice Salomé
Zazou77, a member of Carenity France, lives with fibromyalgia and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Infected by COVID-19, she had to be hospitalised and put into a coma. How is she today? How did she deal with the situation?
Hello Zazou77, you wanted to share your story following an infection with COVID-19, can you tell us when you thought you were infected with the virus? What were your first symptoms?
At first, I thought I just had a bad flu: I had a fever, migraines, weakness, cough... I quickly got into bed and stayed there. But by the evening of the fourth day, I was having more and more difficulty breathing.
How do you think you got the virus? Did you take all the barrier measures into consideration?
Sadly, no! A few months ago, I started training as a vocational rehabilitation counsellor, following a retraining course organised by an occupational physician. And unfortunately, my colleagues, who were ill at the time, didn't take time off work to avoid any financial loss.
How did you react? Did you go to your doctor or A&E? Did you test positive?
It all happened very quickly! I called 111 and the operator asked me about my symptoms and their evolution. Unfortunately, A&E was overwhelmed that night and they couldn't send an ambulance. So my sister had to take me to the hospital which had been notified of my arrival.
How was your intake process?
I was taken care of very quickly as soon as we arrived, but the rest... To this day, I still can't remember! All I remember is that on the fourth day, the doctor informed me that my condition was deteriorating. I went from 6 Litres/O2 to 10 Litres/O2 in the space of an hour. And in order to save my organs that were in distress, they would have to put me into a coma. So the team immediately arranged for my transfer to another hospital.
How long was your hospitalisation? What departments did you go through? How was your relationship with the medical team?
I was hospitalised for three weeks. For the first four days, I was in the infectious diseases department of the Pasteur Hospital in Colmar, then I was transferred to another hospital in Haguenau. So I am in the Grand Est region of France. The hospital conditions were very unusual and undoubtedly traumatic for some people, but I must say that all the nursing staff were great!
I have always had a deep respect for the medical staff, from the housekeeper to the doctor to the orderly to the student nurse. And right now, really, they've been fantastic. They took the risk of catching the virus every time they came into my room, even with the barrier measures! I saw them working in very harsh conditions, with many patients to manage, and yet they were always there, ready to answer the calls of the sick.
How did you handle this situation? Were you worried? Were you able to reach your loved ones?
I always had confidence in my recovery thanks to the skills and extreme care of the doctors and medical staff.
I became truly aware of my condition during the ambulance transfer. The ambulance driver told me that he only had enough oxygen for the duration of the transfer and that if there was a slowdown on the highway, I would go into life-threatening distress and law enforcement would have to step in to clear the way... It made me realize that my life was hanging by a thread. And I thought of my son...
Throughout my time in hospital, my son was in contact with the doctors and he was really reassured when I woke up from the coma after six days.
Has a particular protocol been put in place for your usual medications or treatments?
I had to stop all anti-inflammatory medicines. And during my hospitalisation, I had physiotherapy sessions and interviews with a psychologist to help me accept what was happening to me.
How are you feeling today?
It's been five weeks today since I got out of hospital. There are good days and bad. I'm still very short of breath and tire very quickly despite the reintroduction of physiotherapy sessions. According to the doctors, people who have been infected with the virus are at risk of long-term after-effects, so we shall see!
I am now taking an opium-based medication to treat fibromyalgia that is not an anti-inflammatory and it is having a positive effect.
How do you envision the end of the lockdown? Are you worried about being re-infected? Are you taking additional measures to protect yourself?
I'm not afraid of the lockdown ending in France, it happened, that's it! I've survived this virus, that's the main thing. Of course, I follow the barrier gestures and I will resume my training at the end of May, but with a bit of serenity, that goes without saying!
Am I afraid of being infected again? No one to date is able to tell me if I am immune. Only time will tell...
"A big thank you and all my gratitude to all the people who made it possible for me to be alive today!"
Many thanks to Zazou77 for sharing her story on Carenity. Have you been through a similar experience?
Don't hesitate to share in the comments, in this moment of crisis, information is important!!
Take care and stay home!
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