26 Days in the Hospital at Age 25

By Emmanuel Borrell

Emmaria Borrell, 25, went to pick up medicine for a sore throat on March 27, 2020 and end up staying the hospital for 26 days.

Borrell started feeling symptoms a week before her hospital stay. “A little tickle in my throat,” she says. Initially, she believed it was related to a previous rainy day when she didn’t have an umbrella. The next day she felt warmer than usual, and gradually grew worse as the days went on. Also, she noted the loss of taste and smell.

“They put me to the side, to this isolated thing,” she says. “I was so scared.” At the clinic, her temperature was taken, and it remained high. Her fever wouldn’t break. As she waited in the isolation unit, her doctor did a flu test which came out negative. Her doctor said that her symptoms matched those of COVID-19.

“I think I’m going to send you to the hospital,” he said. “Your oxygen is low.” Borrell  was tested for COVID, but would have to wait for the results as a rapid COVID test wasn’t available at the time. The ambulance arrived.  “At that point, I was just scared,” said Borrell. “That’s literally all I could think about.”  The first few days at the hospital were a blur for her. She waited almost 12 hours waiting for a bed in the emergency room. “My heart rate would not come down,” she said. “I didn’t really eat that day.”  She said she would scream for help because her fever was too high. “I know from experience, when a fever is too, too high, then you could possibly have a seizure,” she said. Borrell graduated from Wagner College in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

It was a time of rapid progression of the pandemic in New York City, according to the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The CDC reported that the Covid-19 case counts increased “from a weekly mean of 274 diagnosed cases per day during the week of March 8 to a peak weekly mean of 5,132 cases per day by the week of March 29.” Borrell was unfortunately one of the 4,858 new cases found. Unfortunately, her case was considered severe and her hospital stay was longer than most. According to the CDC, the median hospital stay for patients was six days. It was also a dangerous time in the pandemic when medical staff were not familiar with the disease. The CDC also reported that the “weekly proportion of hospitalized patients who died was highest among those admitted during March 22–April 5.”

She barely remembers one day where she felt her body crash, due to lack of sleep. She relies on the little memory she had and what nurses told her to describe what happened that day. Nurses walked into her room and found her slumped over, sitting on the toilet unresponsive. She said she remembered them calling rapid response, indicating her condition had seriously declined. Luckily, she regained consciousness and the code was called off.

Borrell developed asthma at 13 which made her lungs vulnerable. She developed pneumonia while in the hospital. She was given external oxygen, as her oxygen levels were lower than normal. Doctors gave her various steroids and medications, such as heparin and hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria.

Borrell says she hopes her story will inspire people to “learn to have faith.” With so many people believing that COVID-19 isn’t real or that it is the government trying to distract the people, she says her story should be help put an end to this misinformation. She says it is mind-blogging to her that, with the severity of her condition, she fully healed from it. “I don’t think I was supposed to come out alive honestly.”

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