For Many Long-Term COVID-19 Patients, Recovery Can Mean Relearning Simple Tasks

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Coronavirus, Crux, Faith

By Emily Drooby

Freddy Virola has to re-train his hands to open, a side effect of months spent in the hospital as he fought to survive the coronavirus.

He said, “It’s a little hard, you know, it’s like starting almost all over.”

In March, a day after his 40th birthday, Freddy felt sick. A week later his wife, Jasmine, brought him to the hospital and heard bad news from the doctor.

“He said listen we have to admit him – he has bilateral pneumonia. That’s when everything went crazy from there,” she said.

Freddy spent 74 days at Bellevue hospital in Manhattan. For 57 of those days he was on a ventilator and for 35 he was on ECMO, a special breathing machine to help his lungs work, only used in the direst of circumstances.

Jasmine and Freddy have been together for 22 years, married for 11 of them. During his hospital stay, she feared the worst.

“So actually, I thought I was going to lose him, I thought I was very close to losing him,” she said.

Freddy survived and on June 9, he was discharged. He won the fight for his life but the fight to get back to normal was just beginning.

Freddy said many of the basics were difficult or impossible at first, “walking, showering, like she said, opening stuff.”

While Jasmine further explained, “He’s relearning everything all over again.”

Recovery is the hidden battle that long-term hospital patients experience after they’re discharged – including coronavirus patients.

“What a lot of people don’t understand what happens when people survive these long hospital stays is that there’s a huge, huge effort and rehabilitation that follows,” explained Dr. Robert Tiballi, an infectious disease expert with Catholic Medical Association and Currents News Contributor.

He added, “People have to learn how to walk again they have to learn sometimes how to talk again, how to breathe again in a normal fashion.”

Freddy is back at his Brooklyn home with a long road ahead.

Jasmine said, “We don’t know what the future holds for him. Because they don’t know anything about this virus and how it’s going to affect his lungs long-term, they already know his lungs are severely damaged.”

Recovery could take weeks, months, even years. No matter how long it takes, the Christian family is leaning on God.

Freddy said, “I prayed, and I’m here.”

Family and friends have setup a GoFundMe page to help with the bills.

Now after what he’s gone through so far, Freddy is pleading with everyone to wear a mask and follow the rules about social distancing

He said, “People don’t take it serious. I almost died off of this, and I thank God and my angel of course, that I’m home.”