Monday, January 24

«You have to fear the Covid and not the vaccine; the bug is there, it’s not a lie »


About twenty young people walk clustered down the main corridor of the Isabel Zendal Hospital in Madrid. They are looking at everything, with inexhaustible curiosity. A couple lingers and sticks their head in the ICU area. They are the new group of health workers, newcomers from other centers to join the staff of the emergency center. He lacks hands: in a month, he has gone from 40 patients to 150. Among them are Ronaldo and Nelson, two young men who have just come out of Intensive Care and are still fighting to regain their health. None are vaccinated. They both regret it.

“I didn’t even realize I had Covid,” explains Ronaldo, 38, sitting in his pajamas next to his bed in

the Zendal. In fact, the disease came as such a surprise that even today he does not know where it could be infected. “Suddenly, I felt a little bit bad, like I was short of breath,” and his family convinced him to go to the hospital. “I was just going to get checked, but I didn’t get out of there anymore: they told me I was bad, that they had to give me oxygen, and that I had to be admitted. I didn’t realize how bad it was.

Many bad nights

From his hospital, that of Puerta de Hierro-Majadahonda, they transferred him to Zendal. “I didn’t even know the seriousness of the matter, because it was fine,” he repeats, with his lilting accent. When he arrived, he began to perceive the seriousness of the situation. “The nurses treated me, they helped me … I have given them many bad nights.” Nothing compared to what he had to suffer himself: the evolution of the ailment forced him to be taken to the ICU area, where he stayed for several days.

Of that long week spent in black, he hardly remembers anything: «No, I was not aware of anything, neither where I was nor who I was with. In fact, I’m just realizing now, I already feel more centered, more balanced.

With his recovery well advanced, Ronaldo hopes that he can be discharged “and next week” so that he can “spend Christmas at home, where many measures will have to be taken, of course.” And also “get vaccinated immediately, because I’m not going to go back to this.”

Another patient, Nelson, convalescing in Zendal, also hopes to be vaccinated
Another patient, Nelson, convalescing in Zendal, also hopes to be vaccinated – JOSÉ RAMÓN LADRA

In his case, the Covid contagion caught him without vaccinating. Not because of denial, he says, but because of “lack of time: I called one day from home and they gave me an appointment, but since I was working early, I was going to work the next day, and the next day …”. The pandemic caught up with him and “the truth is that I haven’t even found out why it happened; and the consequences have been very serious.

The lesson he has learned in his own flesh: «Nobody knows when or how it will be. I was fine, at home, calm, only that I was short of air, I went to the hospital and everything started. For surprise”. He keeps repeating to everyone who wants to hear him “get vaccinated as soon as possible, take care of your family and children, and take good care of yourself.”

«I don’t even know where I got it»

Very close, connected to oxygen and to the monitor that records his vital signs, Nelson (50 years old) has looked at the world with different eyes since he faced Covid-19. Nor was he vaccinated when he was infected with the coronavirus: “I don’t even know where I got it. I was admitted for diverticulitis, then I got gastroenteritis, then angina, and then this. Above, being under defense, the bug arrived and finished. And on top of that I have caught the Delta, which I think is the most lethal, “he says, in a chain of misfortunes that have been concatenated in his life.

«He had had a fever for two or three days; I couldn’t take it anymore, it wasn’t normal ». He went to the ER: “They tested me and they detected the Covid.” It happened at the local health center, and “from there they already took me to the Hospital del Tajo, and then they brought me to the Zendal.”

His situation was not good when he arrived: “I was screwed. They transferred me to the ICU, I don’t remember how many days; I was feeling fatal, I was intubated … I think that in the last two days I was already feeling things a bit ». Now he is more recovered, “although the bug has not yet come out, there are still signs that we have the visitor inside,” he acknowledges. He describes as “spectacular” the care he received at the Emergency Hospital, where “they are waiting 24 hours for us, that we do not lack anything, but nothing, from the smallest to the most exquisite.”

A long stay in the hospital gives him a lot of thought: «And so much; I believe that you regenerate; you reset yourself, and I think you come out in another way from something like that. It teaches you a lot; unfortunately, we have to go to extremes to realize the things we do wrong, including not getting vaccinated.

In his case, it was a mixture of circumstances that served as an excuse: «I was among the first to get vaccinated, but since I am allergic to Ibuprofen, the doctors at first said no; There was a lot of misinformation, it was all very crazy, with a lot of fear, people were not clear about it. And you cling to a burning nail, you fool yourself ». After passing through the ICU, his doubts have been completely dispelled: «It is preferable to be vaccinated, even if you have kidney pain, than to be intubated for five, ten, twenty days, two months, as people are. What you have to be afraid of is the Covid, and not the vaccine, “he concludes.

He has been at the Zendal for almost a month “and I have no idea when I will be able to leave; the thing is going slowly ». His message to whoever listens to him is clear: «Get vaccinated, please, don’t leave it. The boys, of whatever age they are allowed, must be the first, because a child does not have to go through what we have gone through. Nor nobody; I do not wish this to the worst enemy. To those who reject immunization, he insists: «You have to be aware that the bug is there, that it is true, that it is not a lie. Because pneumonia does not appear overnight, and it appeared that way to me ».

Ronaldo and Nelson stay in their chairs, face to face. Around him, a score of companions of fatigue. And in the adjoining room, many others. And others. The battle is far from being won.


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