I Lived a Christmas Miracle in the Middle of a Pandemic

Jen Cueva avatar

by Jen Cueva |

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Christmas has come and gone. Didn’t it seem a bit surreal?

For me, and I’m sure for many of you, too, last year was unique in more ways than one could imagine. But we made it through, despite the challenges and disappointments that 2020 brought our way.

In my last column, I shared with you that my husband, Manny, and I had both tested positive for COVID-19. While attempting to recover at home, my oxygen saturation dropped with minimal exertion. My chest was extremely tight when I tried to inhale. And I had trouble breathing. So, when we told my PH team about all of this, they advised me to head to the emergency room.

I ended up in the hospital.

I could see both fear and love in Manny’s eyes as he dropped me off at the door to the hospital. It was tough for us to be separated at a time when we needed each other. Like other times when I have gone to the hospital, I felt defeated. 

I had too much stacked against me.

Because of my chronic kidney disease and coexisting illnesses, I had too many things working against me. My heart failure nurse practitioner, Lauren, said, “Jen, you’ve kicked butt at home, but let us take over and help you recover and rest, please.”

The next day, I had a PICC line placed, because I needed multiple antibiotics, sodium, and other IV medications. Also, my hyponatremia had kicked into full gear, thanks to my kidney failure. And my sodium was critically low. Still, I had thought that if I received the IV medications, I would manage to go home after just a few days in the hospital.

But I had no idea how frail I actually was.

Little did I know that I was actually very weak. I was repeatedly moved into and out of the ICU. My oxygen saturation dropped into the 50s. But thankfully, after much time, and with 5 liters of oxygen, it has remained in the low 90s. I was on high-flow oxygen for quite some time.

My husband said that hospital staff called him late one night to tell him about my critically low oxygenation, adding that they needed to restrain me. He was heartbroken because he couldn’t be by my side to comfort me. He tears up just talking about it now.

Was it a nightmare?

The next vivid moment I recall is waking up and realizing I had missed Thanksgiving. I broke down and sobbed like a baby. I hadn’t spoken to any family members and wondered where they were. My heart broke.

I wondered if I was having a nightmare, and if so, when it would end. How was I supposed to decipher what was real and what wasn’t? 

When I finally was alert enough to become oriented, medical staff told me that my kidneys had completely shut down. Upon hearing this, I broke down in tears again, because I know I’m not a candidate for kidney transplant. Also, in addition to COVID-19, I had pneumonia, hyponatremia, and sepsis. In fact, the members of my medical team said they hadn’t expected me to pull through. They said I had needed a miracle.

So, I guess you can say that Christmas came early for me, because here I am. 

Our lives have been tremendously touched.

My heart is touched by the deep love and support that has been given to my family and me by so many friends and colleagues. It keeps us sane. So many people showed up in so many ways. In the middle of a pandemic, I am a Christmas miracle, and I am forever grateful.

They say we find out who our friends are in a time of need. We have been continually blessed with people who have been praying for us and helping us from around the world. If I had to pick a silver lining in all of this, I would say it is the outpouring of love and support we’ve received. Y’all are stuck with us now.

When asked what had helped me the most, I would say it’s the love and support I received from those at home and across the world. Although I was alone in the hospital, I still felt everyone’s love and support.

I will continue pushing through this, and I promise not to disappoint anyone. I can’t be permanently knocked down because I have too many people on my team PHighting for me. Remember, I’m themillion-dollar baby,” so I always get back up! 

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This column is dedicated to all of the healthcare providers who work long hours while caring for us. They constantly put their lives on the line for us all. 

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Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.

Comments

Mendo Bruce avatar

Mendo Bruce

Jen,

Were you fully vaccinated?

Reply
Jen Cueva avatar

Jen Cueva

Hi Mendo,
Thanks for reading my column. When I caught COVID last year, we did not have a vaccine available. Unfortunately, my husband is an essential worker, and we both ended up with COVID. Thankfully he had a much better time with his.

But, now we are both fully vaccinated. My PH team said they did not think that I would survive another bad bout with COVID. I am grateful to be here, and my column about post-COVID came out today.

I hope that you enjoyed reading my column. I enjoy seeing you in the PH News forums. Take care and stay well, my PHriend.

Kindly,
Jen

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