In Greek, Nicolás means: ‘the victory of the people’, which is why for Yina Moreno her newborn son could not have had a better name. From before he was born, he was already waging a battle between life and death with her. Mother and son became the first case of a pregnant woman at high risk of death from covid-19 at the Cafam Clinic in Bogotá, a clinical picture that seemed to be taken from one of those articles in medical literature where what was experienced by the pandemic in other countries was documented. It was no longer a distant reality. The seriousness of her health was such that the doctors had to, as she says, “urgently remove the baby.”
Before presenting symptoms, for Yina that of the coronavirus was a myth. He had heard about it, but had never heard of someone who had. He recognized the symptoms, but no one he knew confirmed having felt them. Because, Although she initially complied with the confinement measures with her daughter and her husband, as the weeks went by she began to leave the house and relax despite the warnings; after all, the covid-19 thing felt like one of those stories that you see on television and think you will never touch it.
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However, that nightmare caught up with her in mid-July. It started with a constant feeling of tiredness, coughing, and loss of smell and taste. Over the days, fever, difficulty walking, lack of appetite and mild breathing problems appeared. Given the persistence of discomfort, on July 8 he went to the hospital.
In admissions, they questioned him on suspicion of contagion, and when there was a high probability, the special intrahospital code was activated, which contemplates isolation for all personnel and the cleaning and disinfection of transfer routes and care sites. The medical evaluation argued a high suspicion of virus infection, but without initial commitment. The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test was taken on a nasopharyngeal swab and was discharged with recommendations for isolation at home.
Over the days his deterioration continued, until The exasperating sensation of suffocation did not leave her in peace and that is why on July 12, the date on which she was seven months pregnant, she left the emergency room to the health center. Unlike the first time, this time there was general and pulmonary involvement due to signs of hypoxia (low concentration of oxygen in the blood), a situation that made immediate hospitalization in the ICU imminent. That day the doctors confirmed that she was positive for coronavirus.
The uncertainty of not waking up
The pulmonary insufficiency was so acute that the pregnancy had to be terminated urgently. “We went to the highest doses of drugs and went through everything without seeing great improvements, it was frustrating. When we explained to Yina the need to carry out an emergency cesarean section, that her newborn would be at risk and there was a possibility that she could not get ahead due to prematurity, it was a very difficult moment, “says Dr. Diana Patricia Parrado, manager of Cafam Hospital Gyneco-obstetrics.
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Parrado says that he still remembers all the complications of the situation, because in addition to respiratory problems caused by covid-19, a pregnancy physiologically demands more circulating oxygen and in the third trimester of gestation the large uterus causes difficulty in achieving adequate breathing. That is, the patient’s pulmonary system was already working at the limit of its capacities and volumes. In addition, there was maternal overweight, which implied more restrictions and limited the response to ventilator therapy.
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From July 13-14, Yina claims that she doesn’t remember much. He only knows that that last day his sister had a birthday; That is why, together with the nurses, they sang to him. That morning, hours before the operation, she felt fear take hold of her. Suddenly the urge to say goodbye to all the people she loved woke up inside her. “That morning I wrote to everyone saying goodbye, I thought there were so many dead around me and the figures said that chubby people always died. With my baby I weighed 107 kilos, I had everything to lose, ”he recalls.
When July 15 arrived, the day on which the intervention was scheduled, it was as if the ICU had paused minutes before the intervention. In the midst of the turmoil, she was now filled with an inner silence harmonized with the voices of a group of doctors who were gathered in front of her door calculating the step by step of what they would do to save them.
“We had to resort to intermittent pronation, which is to place intubated patients face down in order to achieve improved oxygenation given the pulmonary compromise.”, Explains Dr. Diana Patricia Parrado.
That morning I wrote to everyone saying goodbye, I thought that there were so many dead around me and the figures said that chubby people always died
Suddenly, time thawed and everyone started running. Yina felt like in one of those movies where in the midst of the confusion the doctors rush to the operating room at marathon speed.
(Of interest: ‘The silence you feel is terrifying’)
From then on everything is confusing. She knows that she desperately screamed at a nurse asking him not to let go of her hand, she clung to him as if that would help her not to let go of life itself. She also desperately implored him not to leave her alone at any time. He cared for her as if she were a guardian angel.
There, in that surgery room, she experienced one of the most indescribable sensations of her existence: the sublime feeling that overwhelmed her when she heard her baby cry three times. He was breathing and with the possibility that either of them would not survive, he promised to record that sound forever.
“After that they covered my face. It’s like I’ve been turned off. What happened those days for me still remains a mystery that I have been clearing up with what my husband and my brothers tell me ”.
Open your eyes to a new life
-When he woke up?
-I opened my eyes again on August 2 (on July 12 he entered the ICU). I know this because it was the first thing I saw in the gowns of the doctors around me. They had the date written on the suits, if not, I wouldn’t know.
That day it was as if he had been born again. A second chance that, he admits, would not have been possible without the professionalism of the medical staff and without the prayers of family, friends, work colleagues and even strangers. that, upon hearing her story, they joined a religious novena for her recovery and even sent her gifts for her son.
(More stories: The torture of having your mother between life and death)
After so many tears, she now jokes about what happened during her recovery days. For example, it seems absurd that his first words upon waking up were “I’m very hungry.” Anecdote that he laughs, because he believes that the most logical thing was to have asked about the baby and his health.
They went more than twenty days without seeing or hugging little Nicolás. Time in which his sister Diana served as a babysitter mother. He saw his baby for the first time through a video that the nurses showed him, the same nurses who, to raise his spirits, filled the glass of the room with photos of the newborn so that he would gain strength and get out of there.
After that they covered my face. It’s like I’ve been turned off. What happened those days for me still remains a mystery that I have been clearing up with what they tell me
Little by little the doctors began to reduce the parameters of the ventilator and the medications, until they were completely withdrawn after approximately 15 days of critical condition in the ICU. Given the improvement, he went to the apartment and later managed to continue hospitalization in his home.
His departure on August 6 was a collective celebration. Among the clinic workers they organized a street of honor where they filled it with applause and words of encouragement. “They encouraged me to move on, to fulfill my dreams, to value that second chance we had with my son and to look forward to the discharge of my baby, who came home three days later.”
(Read: ‘I did not know if he was alive or dead’: says man who suffered from covid)
He can now walk without shaking his legs, but now he is struggling to recover his memory to one hundred percent and hopes to normalize his voice, as he became hoarse as a result of the double intubation. Nicolás also advances in his process; although he is already with his family, he still needs oxygen. With all that and that, Yina feels lucky: the consequences she has had, given the seriousness of her case, are insignificant. She and her son are miraculously healthy and alive.
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You don’t see what you went through as something you should remember with sadness. When the baby grows up, he hopes to tell her, with emotion, that he was famous since childhood and that his love was so powerful that he lifted her from a hospital bed just by hearing her first cry. “It was our first victory, we both came out positive and now we are on the other side.”
DIANA MILENA RAVELO MÉNDEZ
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