Mary O. Smiling with Mask

Montecito Success Story:

Mary O.

I got COVID in December 2020 right before Christmas. I lost consciousness on the way to the hospital due to my shortness of breath. My oxygen dropped to 40% before they put me on a ventilator which caused neurologic damage with permanent drop foot and pain in my leg. I was in a medically induced coma for 94 days and ended up with two collapsed lungs needing a ventilator and needed dialysis because my organs began to fail. I woke up at Montecito on March 3. My family informed me they were going to pull the plug until I started to wake. When I woke up, I was still on a ventilator to help me breathe and was very panicked and anxious. I was a respiratory therapist for 23 years and went back to school for my nursing degree where I worked as a hospice nurse. I was fully aware of my situation due to my educational background which made me even more anxious. I finally progressed off the vent and was able to tolerate wearing a cap on my trach to allow me to talk. Once I started therapy, I was very weak and needed two people to help me sit up on the edge of the bed. I could not stand on my own but began using a standing frame to increase my endurance. Caitlin (PTA) and Carrly (OT) were my main therapists and helped me every step of the way. They were patient and encouraging even when I wanted to give up. They taught me that I could do anything I put my heart to and allowed me to gain faith in myself. After two months of therapy, I am now able to sit up by myself, I can walk about 30 ft with a walker, transfer to my electric wheelchair, stand by myself with a walker, and get to the bathroom by myself. I am miles from where I began thanks to these therapists. They never gave up on me. They came in everyday with a smile on their face and ready to work. Once I was stable, the RT team was wonderful and helped me progress off the vent. The nursing and CNA staff has been great, loving, and caring. I would like to thank Brittany Lopez (Pulmonologist), Esther Ndegwa (NP), and Dr. Casino (MD) for being so patient and caring for me throughout my stay at Montecito. I have been very happy and thankful that Montecito was able to care for me. It took a lot of work but you can do it if you try!