This week, doctors and nurses who have been pushed to their limits in a part of Southern California ravaged by the pandemic received a rare piece of good news: Merlin Pambuan had recovered from COVID and was leaving after being hospitalized for eight months fighting the virus.
When Pambuan awoke in September after four months hooked up to a breathing machine that helped keep her alive, the intensive care unit nurse sickened with the coronavirus was comforted knowing her life was in the hands of her colleagues, treated at the same hospital she had worked at for 40 years.
But she still could not feel her extremities following a deep sedation that started in May, shortly after she had contracted the virus while treating COVID patients at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. As first reported by Reuters, the nurse could not remember anything about a period in which she had come close to dying “multiple times,” according to her doctor.
After she regained consciousness, a grueling physical and respiratory rehabilitation program awaited Pambuan to help her move arms and legs that had been immobile for months. While the task was daunting, the 66-year-old said she refused to back down from taking control of her life again.
“I said, ‘No, I’m going to fight this covid,’ ” she said, reported Reuters. “I start moving my hand [and] a physical therapist come and say, ‘Oh, you’re moving your hands,’ and I said, ‘Oh, I’m going to fight, I’m going to fight. I’m trying to wiggle my toes. I’m going to fight it.’ ”