‘I’m Begging People To Listen’: Newton COVID-19 Survivor Shares Story
Ann Langenfeld of Newton has been home for less than a week, after spending six weeks in a near-death fight with COVID-19.
NEWTON (CBS) – Ann Langenfeld of Newton has been home for less than a week, after spending six weeks in a near-death fight with COVID-19.
“I’m grateful to be alive, and to have a second lease on life,” she told WBZ.
The 56-year-old wife and mother of two girls has fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, but is otherwise healthy. She believes she contracted the virus airborne while riding a train to and from New York City on March 4. She became sick the next day, and by March 15, she was in the Mass General Emergency Room. Soon after she was hooked up to a ventilator, in a medically induced coma for 16 days.
“It was surreal to find out that’s what happened to me,” she explained. “I don’t remember much.” She does remember what went through her mind while in a coma. “Vivid, terrifying dreams,” she said. “It’s very scary. You think it’s real. And you can’t move.”
At one point, doctors thought she might not survive. “It was very traumatic for family and friends,” she said. Of course, Ann didn’t know that at the time. When doctors woke her up from the coma on March 31, she couldn’t move a finger physically, she said, and mentally, she experienced delusions. “You think you have Dementia or Alzheimer’s,” she said.
She told doctors in her delirious state that she had traveled to China and Korea, which she had not. “Things that were just not true I believed to be true,” she said.
Nine days after she woke from her coma, and in her second day at Spaulding Rehab in Cambridge, Ann says her mind cleared in an “aha moment” when she woke up. “I started making phrases and thinking, ‘Oh, I’m myself again,’” she said.
What was difficult for Ann mentally was the isolation of not allowing visitors to rehab, the stress of piecing together the anxiety her family went through while she was unconscious, and the constant COVID-19 tests and setbacks. She wasn’t tested once, or twice – but six times. Five times, she tested positive. “That was probably the first time…that I cried,” she said. “I didn’t think [the virus] was ever going to leave me and I didn’t think I was ever going to go home.”
The other realization for Ann was how much the world had changed since she first went to the hospital and went under, as an early COVID-19 patient prior to the surge in Massachusetts. “You almost start to believe, ‘Is it ever going to be back to normal?’” she said. “I left and [the world] was hustling and bustling and everything was fine.”
Ann returned home on Friday, April 17, after a warm goodbye from the nurses at Spaulding. She credits them, and the health care workers at Mass General, for saving her life. Her recovery is slow but steady. She can now walk on her own a short distance on the first floor of her home. Her small goal is to get to the shower to be able to shower on her own again.
Ann told WBZ she wanted to share her story so people start taking staying home seriously. “I just want people to know this can happen to their family,” she said. “It’s real, and it’s scary.”
She’s growing frustrated by seeing the protests to reopen the economy nationwide. “I’m begging people to listen” to the CDC and officials, she said. “Because I never – I don’t think I could go through this again.”