Woman shares story of her COVID-19 hospitalization on ventilator

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Patricia Hamel. Credit: WINK News.

It’s rare that we get to hear from someone who has survived after being put on a ventilator during their battle with the coronavirus. We spoke to a woman who survived her trying experience with COVID-19 in the hospital.

Patricia Hamel fought to get off a ventilator this past March and won. She’s 32 years old.

“I had already coded once, and that was terrifying,” Hamel said. “I could tell that I was dying.”

For 15 days, Hamel laid in the hospital intubated. She was awake for most it.

“I was literally vomiting around the tubes,” Hamel said. Then, they will also have to do suction because the stuff in my lungs.”

“It’s literally just, I mean, this is really disgusting, but it’s just like chunks,” Hamel said. “So hardened mucus are in your lungs, and they get, you know, you choke on them.”

As bad as that was, Hamel said the psychological fight was worse.

“I was having night terrors and really bad hallucinations from the propofol, and that was very terrifying,” Hamel said. “There’s this scream that a mother makes when she loses a child, and it’s almost it’s like otherworldly, it’s not human, and I heard two mothers. While I was there, I heard that happen twice.”

“All I could think was, you know, I don’t want to put my mother in this position,” Hamel said. “So it was kind of motivating in that sense of just, you know, I, it pushed me to want to survive.”

Hamel is one of the lucky few. She made it off the ventilator.

“Then, there’s also the guilt because I did survive,” Hamel said. “These other people didn’t, you know? Why me versus them? And so it’s just a lot. It’s a process.”

Hamel is thankful she gets to process it at all. She told us she rarely leaves the house because she is immunocompromised and unable to get the vaccine. She said she’s also angry because people who can get the vaccine or wear masks choose not to. She fears people putting themselves first puts others at risk.

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