For some people, recovering from coronavirus is simply a matter of time as they look to get through its symptoms. For others, being released from the hospital is just the beginning of their fight.
Cris Delgado, 22, spent weeks in the hospital, intubated and on a ventilator, fighting delusions and sepsis. He ultimately beat the virus, through it wasn’t easy.
“I thought I wasn’t going to make it,” he said.
Still, when Delgado, a restaurant manager, was released from the hospital, he didn’t go home. Instead, he headed to another medical facility, because a new challenge popped up after he seemingly turned the corner against the virus: his muscles deserted him.
What many Americans don’t realize is that even when a patient is released from the hospital, their recovery may still be far from complete. The virus saps a patient’s energy, making even the most basic human functions almost impossible.
“My whole body was weak,” Delgado said. “My legs were weak. I couldn’t do anything with my arms.”
Delgado’s symptoms are not uncommon.
“What this disease does to people is robs them of their strength, they, they're exhausted,” explained Dr. Michelle Gittler, the medical director at Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital.
Last week Schwab opened a COVID-19 rehabilitation wing, and the facility is already seeing an increasing numbers of patients, like Delgado, who ironically are recovering from their recovery.
“The group that we're caring for are people who they can't just go home because they, they can't get themselves to the bathroom,” Gittler said.
Videos taken and released by the hospital show Delgado putting on his shoes, walking into a tub, and stacking balls as part of his recovery. It has taken 10 days to bring him this far.
Missy Brottman is one of Delgado’s therapists at the facility.
“The huge misconception is that just because someone’s no longer contagious or infectious, it doesn’t mean that that’s the end of getting stronger and back to their daily activities,” she said.
In some patients, COVID-19 recovery has introduced a host of new health concerns, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, even with minimal movement, as well as crushing exhaustion.
As Delgado finishes his rehabilitation time, he has another matter weighing on his heart, because his dad has been in intensive care with the virus.
Delgado has a special message for his father as he continues to battle the virus.
“You showed us the way, like you, you told us not to give up,” he said. “Always, always move on, always go forward. Don’t stop.”
If all goes well, Delgado’s father will be released this week.