If you progress into stage 5, that means your breathing didn’t get better. Your lungs need assistance, a machine called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). This machine bypasses the lungs and delivers oxygen directly to your blood.
Of course, not all hospitals have ECMO machines. If you’re stable, you might get transferred to a facility that has one. If a transfer is not possible, you’ll continue to receive the same treatment you’ve been receiving.
The severe stages of COVID continue to be unforgiving.
Your lungs now require too much pressure to receive oxygen that fluid leaks to your chest. The nurses and doctors have to remove that fluid.
Stage 6 might mean your kidneys are failing that your body swells from fluid retention. At this point, you might need to undergo dialysis.
The prolonged hospital stay makes you vulnerable to infection, your lungs may have accumulated fluids, and a blood clot might show up.
If your blood pressure drops, doctors can give you medicines, but your heart may stop beating anyway, so several rounds of CPR might be necessary to get a pulse back.
Stage 6 means your family might need to make a difficult decision.
Your family decides to withdraw care altogether. The doctors and nurses remove the tube and arrange a way for your family to see you, at least virtually. They hear goodbyes and lots of crying.
They hold your hand as you take your last breath.
Karen says her pandemic stories rarely end well, and they don’t get any easier. But there’s hope. If you’re vaccinated, COVID infection often ends at stage 1.
Learn more about Coronavirus here.