A 17-year-old has shared her story of spending a month in hospital with coronavirus.
Hume teenager Saela spoke at the Victorian Government’s press conference yesterday where 1571 new cases of coronavirus and 13 COVID19 deaths were announced.
The state is on target to hit 70 per cent fully vaccinated a few days earlier than the expected date of October 26.
Saela said her family became infected via her baby sister’s day care centre, with her parents, three siblings and grandparents, who all live in the house, catching the virus.
At the time she wasn’t eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Everyone was coughing and suffering from aches and pains,” Saela said.
“We couldn’t taste or smell. My symptoms were the worst, with coughing fits that left me breathless.”
The family was worried about the two grandparents, but Saela said she thought she was safe until her condition deteriorated.
“I’d brush it off and say I was okay, but I was scared and hoping it would get better. As I got worse, they had to call the ambulance and I knew I would be alone,” she said.
“I thought it would be a check-up and be home the next day.”
In the hospital, she said her health progressively got worse, before “one night I couldn’t stop coughing and I couldn’t breathe”.
“I was so disturbed I was screaming and thought I was going to die, then I felt nothing,” she said.
“They put me to sleep. I woke up nine days later.
“I was broken. None of this was fair. Five days later I waved goodbye to the ventilator. I had to learn to walk again. I cried every day.”
Saela spent 15 days in an ICU at the Box Hill hospital, and she thanked staff at Eastern Health. She also urged everyone eligible to get vaccinated.
“A lot of people my age think they’re invincible and don’t need the vaccine. They think they won’t be affected, but COVID nearly killed me,” she said.
“I don’t know what the lasting effects will be. I’m still regaining my strength, my mind is still fragile, I will have this scar on my neck for the rest of my life from the tracheotomy.”
Her mum, Michelle, said she was “still hurting from the experience”, with her husband also taken to hospital due to the virus.
When she was called to be told Saela would be put on a ventilator, she said her first reaction was shock.
“I thought, how? I talked to her two hours ago,” Michelle said.
“I said (to the doctor) ‘please let me talk to her before you do this’. He said ‘it’s best you don’t’.
“I don’t know if it was my imagination or mother’s intuition, but I heard her screaming.
“She needed a lot of help from the ventilator and I wish she had been vaccinated.
“I remember saying ‘you need to save my baby’. He said ‘she is the sickest person in the hospital’, in Eastern Health.
“Last week she was at school, this week in a coma.”
She said having her daughter and husband in hospital while she, her parents and her children battled the virus left her “broken”.
“I wanted to be with Saela, my husband, but I was so sick myself,” Michelle said.
“I started to grieve, I thought someone was going to die and it was much easier for me to prepare for a loss than it was to hope.”
She urged everyone who was eligible to be vaccinated to help them avoid the same fate.