Coverage from our partners COVID Firsthand

‘It almost feels like I’m drowning’: COVID-19 patient shares battle

By Krystle Sherrell, KSN, Original article link

Angel Martinez, 36, is known for his devout work helping kids and teens in Wichita and is battling COVID-19 in the hospital.

Local hospitals and health officials say the number of patients under the age of 50 who are testing positive or being hospitalized with COVID-19 is increasing.

Martinez’s diagnosis came just a short time after both his mother and father recovered from COVID-19.

“I started having an itchy throat, fever out of nowhere, hot flashes, cold chills, body aches,” said Martinez. “About five days into it, I got extremely worse. I wasn’t able to breathe, body aches were getting worse, headaches just wouldn’t stop.”

For the last seven days, he’s been battling the virus in his hospital bed. He said one of the toughest parts aside from the pain is not having his family there to help him fight.

“Breathing has been difficult,” said Martinez. “My oxygen levels have been fine. It’s just the act of once you start coughing, there’s no getting it back. It almost feels like I’m drowning trying to catch my breath.”

Martinez said his preexisting conditions, diabetes, and high blood pressure have slowed his recovery.

Martinez snaps a photo for his loved ones while recovering in the hospital.
COURTESY: ANGEL MARTINEZ

“Because of the steroids and the sickness and the stress, it makes my blood sugar jump way up,” said Martinez. “On top of not only COVID-19, now we’re battling COVID and diabetes, and with all that stuff going on, I also have high blood pressure.”

Until now, Martinez has not been able to talk and has been hooked up to an oxygen machine among other technologies to monitor his heart.

“Not being able to get up, walk around,” said Martinez. “I’ve been doing some breathing exercises, and then, I’m spent for a couple of hours. I’m hurting.”

Martinez is right in the middle of the age range that doctors and county health officials said they’re seeing an increase in positive cases and hospitalizations.

As part of treatment, doctors gave Martinez a plasma transfusion. The plasma is donated by recovered COVID-19 patients and used in hopes of helping patients who are hospitalized.

“Three to four hours after that, I started doing really bad again; breaking out with fever,” said Martinez.

Hours later, Martinez said he started feeling stronger and thinks the plasma helped him greatly.

A spokesperson for Wesley Medical Center said it is seeing a greater frequency of patients between the ages of 30 and 50. Officials at Ascension Via Christi said there are currently three patients between the ages of 20 and 50 hospitalized with COVID-19. Since April 1, the hospital has admitted 25 patients in that age range. One of them died.

“The thing that I’m concerned about in terms of young patients is what they’re doing to the general population of older adults,” said Dr. Dennis Oyiengo, a pulmonologist at Ascension Via Christi. “A lot of people will be feeling well, and they might not notice they’re sick and give the disease to their older family members.”

This has been a concern for Martinez too. He said he fears for kids who might be heading back to school in the coming months and urges younger generations to take coronavirus seriously.

Martinez said before he was hospitalized, he didn’t take COVID-19 as seriously as he should have.

“I took it lightly in the sense of it only affects the older generation,” said Martinez. “I’m younger, I’m okay, but it’s been a challenge for sure. Think of your kids, think of your parents, think of somebody you love before you think about how big of an inconvenience it is.”

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