A double-jabbed 37-year-old woman placed in a coma after capturing COVID wants to thank the staff at Lincoln County Hospital for saving her life, and urges everyone to make sure they get vaccinated.
Monica Almeida, who was born in Portugal and is now a British citizen living in Gainsborough, is a respiratory specialist nurse in the community and has treated several coronavirus patients and works for the NHS in North Lincolnshire.
She told Lincolnites her experience working in the NHS helped her prepare, but it also made her time in the hospital more daunting as she knew exactly what was happening. At one point, Monica almost died and her parents were told to fly to England to potentially say goodbye to their daughter.
Monica, who received her first and second COVID-19 plugs in March and May, respectively, said she was told by a consultant in the intensive care unit that if she had not been vaccinated, she would have died.
She also posted a video while she was in the hospital (see below) in an attempt to encourage more people to be vaccinated.
After more than a month in the hospital with COVID pneumonia, including being in a coma and erectile dysfunction, Viagra, which helps save her life, Monica is now on the road to recovery.
She said she owes her life to the staff at Lincoln County Hospital, where she started her nursing career and worked between 2011 and 2017.
Diagnosis and hospitalization
Monica received at least two coronavirus tests a week because of her work. She tested positive for COVID after a lateral flow test on October 31 this year – only a very faint line appeared, and Monica booked in for a PCR test shortly after, which confirmed the diagnosis.
She had been ill for a few weeks with a cough, but she thinks it was related to her asthma. She did not develop symptoms of coronavirus until a few days after the positive result.
By day four, the mother of two had lost her sense of taste and smell before coughing up blood the next day. By the fifth day, her oxygen level had dropped.
She was taken to a hospital in Greater Lincolnshire by ambulance two days in a row, but after being in the emergency room all night, she was discharged with a prescription and without treatment. Within two hours after she was home, she woke up coughing and could not breathe properly, so her husband called 999.
This time, Monica was instead taken to Lincoln County Hospital – upon arrival, she was critically ill and went straight to the resuscitation room. She was given 15 liters of oxygen to try to get her back to normal levels, just as she was put on a CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure).
She remained in the COVID ward overnight, but her condition worsened and she was admitted to the intensive care unit on November 9th.
Monica was then placed in a coma on November 16, as her condition continued to get worse and her oxygen levels did not reach normal. She does not remember much from being in a coma other than hallucinating.
Before she went to sleep, she signed a document saying she was happy to take part in a study to try experimental drugs. She also received Viagra about a week after being in a coma, which opened her airways. Her lungs began to respond to it, and the oxygen she needed dropped by about 50% as her condition began to improve.
Monica also got an infection during her time in the hospital, which made it very difficult for her. After about two and a half weeks in a coma, she underwent a tracheotomy, but it was not until December 14, when she was fully awake and conscious, that she began to feel more like herself.
After three days of being fully awake, she managed to get up with help. She was kept in a side room on the intensive care unit, but there were no available beds on the other wards she could move to, and when she got better, she requested that she be considered to go home.
Monica underwent four negative COVID-19 tests, including in her final week in the hospital, before being discharged on Christmas Eve to go home and be with her family.
The aftermath of being in the hospital means that Monica currently has poor mobility and needs help washing and dressing. Since she had been tied to a bed for so long in the hospital, her recovery could take several months or even longer.
She is determined to recover fully and hopes to return to work in the future, but admits “it will not be soon”.
Monica’s husband, Artur, and her two sons aged nine and 14 were all tested positive for coronavirus, which meant there were times when they could not visit, making it an even tougher experience.
Fortunately, Artur was able to be by her side some of the time and the hospital staff supported him a lot.
‘I owe them my life’
Monica, who has only been out of the hospital for about a week, told Lincolnites: “It was really hard, but the nurse who looked after me was a former colleague, which made a big difference, and the staff could see how scared I was and they were amazing.
“Mentally, I am now as good as ever, but I get a little crying and frustrated at times. Physically, I am very weak and fragile, but I am determined to recover.
“I was in the COVID ward and then intensive, and I do not have a bad word to say about my treatment. I was listened to and included in everything about my care and I owe those people my life.
“From the housekeepers to the nursing staff who showed me care and compassion, to an amazing medical team, I would like to say a big public thank you.
“I understand that hospitals take a lot of shots and can have a bad reputation, but I think it is important to see the positive. It is a miracle for me to have had such an improvement and to have been able to be home for Christmas. with my family.
“It would not have been possible without their support. One of the doctors cried with my husband and showed him genuine care and compassion and kept him updated on me. It shows that they really care.”
She added that she would also like to say a big thank you to the local community in Gainsborough who helped with “fantastic donations” of food and Christmas presents to her husband and two children while she was in hospital.
After her terrifying experience in the hospital, Monica also has a message for anti-waxers or someone who is unsure whether to get the sting or not.
She said: “There are people out there who say the vaccine has killed people. I do not deny that there are people who react and get sick with the vaccine, but when we look at the number of deaths we have in unvaccinated people , there is a big message to get your plug.
“It worries me, especially in Lincolnshire, that people are against getting the vaccine. I never expected at the age of 37 to get as sick as I did. I never thought this would happen to me, and I want people to take it more seriously. “