Barbara Gould isn’t the same person she was at this time last year, when she was first hospitalized with COVID-19.
When a person spends three months in four different hospitals, everything changes.
The north Boulder resident was on a ventilator for three times as long as the average COVID-19 patient at UCHealth. She lost her hair. She had to relearn how to walk and talk. Her liver sustained untreatable damage. She’s spent months in recovery.
Her journey hasn’t been an easy one, but with the support of her family and her faith community, Gould has found her way.
“I do not recognize myself yet,” she said. “But I will.”
Last year, after returning in mid-March from a long trip to South America, Gould and her husband Allen Taggart started to feel feverish. They developed coughs and felt extremely fatigued. Taggart recovered, but Gould did not.
On April 7, 2020, Gould recalls feeling something indescribably different in her chest. Days later, when her condition worsened, she was put in a medically induced coma at Boulder Community Health and began using a ventilator. Clark Berngard, a pulmonary critical care physician and medical ICU director at Boulder Community Health, was part of her treatment team. He said Gould has been the sickest COVID-19 patient he’s treated who lived.
For Berngard, it’s both beautiful and dark to be in medical care at a time such as this one, particularly in the small community of Boulder where health care workers often know the people they’re treating.
“Sometimes we have these beautiful, miraculous saves like hers, and other times, we provide a dignified death (for) people when they transition out of this world,” Berngard said.
When it was determined Gould needed to be put on an ECMO machine, which allows a patient’s blood to flow out into an artificial lung and gives a person whose lungs are failing a chance to recover, she was airlifted to UCHealth.
All in all, she spent three months in four different hospitals, including 65 days on a ventilator and 15 days on an ECMO machine.
During her stay at Kindred Hospital, where she received long-term care after doctors decided she was well enough to be taken off the ECMO machine and weaned off the ventilator, Gould recalls hearing people protesting outside the Colorado State Capitol. They were protesting police brutality, namely George Floyd’s death, but Gould had no idea why. She wasn’t conscious when it happened.
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Source:: The Denver Post
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