December 30, 2021 2.18 pm

Lincolnshire mum thanks NHS angels (and Viagra) for saving her from COVID coma

Monica made it home on Christmas Eve

A double-jabbed 37-year-old woman put in a coma after catching COVID wants to thank staff at Lincoln County Hospital for saving her life, and is urging 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 numerous patients with coronavirus, working for the NHS in North Lincolnshire.

She told The Lincolnite her experience working in the NHS helped her prepare, but it also made her time in hospital more frightening, as she knew exactly what was happening. At one point Monica nearly died and her parents were told to fly to England to potentially say goodbye to their daughter.

Monica, who had her first and second COVID-19 jabs in March and May respectively, said she was told by a consultant in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) that if she hadn’t been vaccinated then she would have died.

She also posted a video while in hospital (see below) in an effort to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

After more than a month in hospital with COVID pneumonia, including being in a coma and erectile dysfunction drug Viagra helping to 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.

Monica spent time in ICU before being put into a coma.

Diagnosis and hospital admission

Monica was having at least two coronavirus tests a week due to her work. She tested positive for COVID after a lateral flow test on October 31 this year – only a very faint line showed up and Monica booked in for a PCR test soon after which confirmed the diagnosis.

She had been unwell for a few weeks with a cough but she believes that was related to her asthma. She didn’t develop coronavirus symptoms until a couple of 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. On the fifth day her oxygen levels had dropped.

She was taken to a hospital in Greater Lincolnshire by ambulance two days running, but after being in A&E all night she was discharged with a prescription and no treatment. Within two hours of being home she woke up coughing and couldn’t breathe properly so her husband called 999.

This time Monica was instead taken to Lincoln County Hospital – on arrival she was critically ill and went straight to the resuscitation room. She was on 15 litres of oxygen to try to get her back to normal levels, as well as being put on a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.

She stayed on the COVID ward overnight but her condition deteriorated and she was admitted to ICU on November 9.

It was a frightening time for Monica, but she said the staff at Lincoln County Hospital were amazing.

Monica was then put into a coma on November 16 as her condition continued to get worse and her oxygen levels were not reaching normal. She can’t remember much from being in the coma other than hallucinating.

Before she was put to sleep, she signed a document saying she was happy to be in a study to try experimental drugs. She was also given Viagra around a week after being in a coma, which opened up her airways. Her lungs started responding to it and the oxygen she needed lowered by around 50% as her condition began to improve.

Monica also caught an infection during her time in hospital which made things very difficult for her. After around two-and-a-half weeks in a coma, she was given a tracheotomy, but it wasn’t until December 14 when she was fully awake and conscious that she started to feel more like herself.

Monica was given a tracheotomy during her time in hospital.

After three days of being fully awake she managed to stand up with assistance. She was being kept in a side room at ICU, but there were no beds free on the other wards for her to move to and, as she was getting better, she requested that she could be considered for going home.

Monica had four negative COVID-19 tests, including during her final week in hospital, before being discharged on Christmas Eve to go home and be with her family.

The after effects of being in hospital mean Monica currently has poor mobility, and needs help to wash and get dressed. As she had been confined to a bed for so long in hospital, her recovery could take several months or even longer.

She is determined to recovery fully and hopes to return to work in the future, but admits “it won’t be any time soon”.

Monica smiling with her husband Artur after coming out of a coma.

Monica’s husband, Artur, and her two sons, aged nine and 14, all tested positive for coronavirus, which meant there were times when they couldn’t visit, making it an even tougher experience.

Fortunately, Artur was able to be by her side some of the time and the hospital staff were very supportive to him.

Monica said she owes her life to the staff at Lincoln County Hospital.

‘I owe them my life’

Monica, who has only been out of hospital for around a week, told The Lincolnite: “It was really hard, but the nurse looking after me was a former colleague which made a big difference and the staff could see how frightened I was and they were amazing.

“Mentally I am now as good as ever, but I do get a bit teary 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 care and I haven’t got a bad word to say about my treatment. I was listened to and included in everything about my care and I owe my life to those people.

“From the housekeepers to the nursing staff who showed me care and compassion, to an amazing medical team, I’d like to say a public big thank you.

“I understand hospitals take a lot of flack and can have a bad reputation, but I think it’s important to see the positives. It’s a miracle for me to have made such a recovery and to able to have been home for Christmas with my family.

“It wouldn’t have been possible without their support. One of the doctors cried with my husband and showed true care and compassion to him, and kept him updated on me. It shows they truly care.”

Monica Almeida with her husband Artur.

She added that she would also like to say a big thank you to the local community in Gainsborough who helped with “amazing donations” of food and Christmas presents for her husband and two children while she was in hospital.

After her terrifying experience in hospital, Monica also has a message to anti-vaxxers or anyone unsure whether or not to get the jab.

She said: “There are people out there saying the vaccine has killed people. I’m not denying there are people who react and get poorly with the vaccine, but when we look at the amount of deaths we have in unvaccinated people there is a big message there to have your jab.

“It does worry me, especially in Lincolnshire, that people are against having the vaccine. I never expected at 37 years of age to get as ill as I did. I never thought this would happen to me and I want people to take it more seriously.”

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