A student nurse who spent weeks in a coma after contracting coronavirus said there were tears of joy when she finally went home and saw her children.
Natasha Jenkins, 35, spent 22 days on a ventilator after falling sick just before Mother’s Day.
On Saturday, she finally got to hug her children in an emotional reunion at their home in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan.
“I’m so grateful to still be here,” said Natasha.
The second year trainee nurse was placed on a ventilator at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff just after Mother’s Day after developing pneumonia and testing positive for coronavirus.
“They told my family it was hour by hour. The next thing I knew I had woken up and I had missed a month, missed all that time with my kids.”
Natasha now needs the support of a frame to walk, has crippling fatigue which she says makes her feel like “I’ve gone back to being a child again”, and has been told she will need 12 months of rehabilitation.
The first thing she saw when she woke up from the coma was the faces of her three children, Codie, 16, Elise, 12, and Oakley, six, after nurses pinned pictures of them around her bed.
As she got better, they read her the letters they had written, but she said not being able to have visitors and trying to battle it alone was “the worst thing I’ve ever experienced”.
“The nurses said I was a miracle, I was the youngest person in the hospital at the time to have it,” she added.
“I will never know where I got it, but I am here, I am alive, and I will be forever grateful.”
After being discharged from hospital, an emotional video, showing her making her way slowly to her homer and hugging her children on the sofa attracted hundreds of comments online.
Natasha said she hoped the video would make people stay home and take the virus more seriously.
“I was lucky and fortunate enough, by some miracle, to make it out alive, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.”
Natasha said started to have severe headaches a few days before Mother’s Day after painting her bedroom – she initially thought she had “poisoned herself” with the fumes.
After feeling worse, Natasha had lumbar puncture to try and ease pressure as she has Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH), a condition which causes fluid on the brain, and was sent home.
When the symptoms got worse, her daughter had to call for help in the middle of the night.
Doctors found she had developed pneumonia, so she was put on a ventilator in an intensive care unit.
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Natasha said even as a student nurse she did not realise the long-term impact coronavirus could have.
“I am trying to build my strength a little bit at a time every day,” she said, “the fatigue is terrible”.
She warned people not to ignore advice and start taking the virus more seriously.
“It is not just the flu, it is the fatigue, the confusion, the hallucinations, it literally feels like you are drowning, your lungs feel like they are being crushed, to think literally a few days before I was painting the bedroom,” she added.
“Unless it’s happened to them or their family I don’t think people understand the severity of it.”