A woman who found out she had Covid-19 just two days after her 22nd birthday and thought she was young and healthy enough to avoid becoming seriously unwell was hospitalised and put into a coma.
Despite her confidence, unvaccinated Ffion Barnett began struggling to breathe and needed an urgent admission to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant, South Wales, soon after testing positive.
It was the start of a deeply traumatic health scare for the marketing student who would be put in an induced coma for five days and would need to relearn how to walk, talk, eat and even sleep.
"I wasn't vaccinated because I thought, being young with no health conditions, I was safe. Obviously I was wrong," she told Wales Online.
Ffion, who works in a cafe and lived in Tonypandy, Rhondda, at the time she became unwell, said she first suspected she had coronavirus when she lost her sense of taste.
"I felt a bit rough before that, but I wasn't displaying any of the telltale symptoms," she recalled.
"But when I realised I couldn't taste that's when things got real."
The day after her 22nd birthday, Ffion went for a PCR test which came back as positive 24 hours later.
"I wasn't particularly worried at the time. I was just too focused on being in isolation and getting better," she added.
When her breathing became increasingly laboured, Ffion was admitted to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital on August 12, 2021 – a week after testing positive.
"My partner wheeled me into the hospital and I was taken straight into a room by resus. They did all my observations and stats and put me straight on oxygen. I then remember being taken to ward three where I spent the night. I had a funny turn there where I couldn't get up or walk.
"I was then admitted to ICU on Friday, August 13 – what a great day to be admitted."
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Ffion was then put in an induced coma as doctors grew increasingly concerned about her high heart rate which they thought could result in her going into cardiac arrest. She was also struck down with Covid-induced pneumonia.
She added that the medication she was being given – as doctors tried to bring her round from her coma – caused her to hallucinate.
"They tried getting me out of the coma after two or three days, but as I was so agitated they put me back under. I didn't know what was reality and what wasn't," she said.
"It must have been terrifying for my family, but in truth I was in no state to be frightened as I was so out of it."
Eventually she turned a corner after a 12-day spell in intensive care and was put back on ward three.
In total Ffion spent two weeks and five days at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital. Towards the end of her stay she had to learn how to talk, walk and eat properly again.
One unusual side-effect from the trauma of being in ICU was Ffion losing all her hair.
"I had really long, thick hair. I didn't start losing it until I came out of hospital," she explained.
Ffion, who has now had her Covid vaccinations, said she has almost fully recovered from Covid-19 but remains lethargic all the time.
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