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Daniela “Dani” Diaz

Just the beginning

Daniela "Dani" DiazOn July 4, 2022, I was barely able to move, heavy chested, fatigued, sweating, heart was racing, and my body felt swollen. I was taken to the hospital. After getting things checked out, they told me I was positive for COVID-19. I had told them about my previous history of pericarditis and myocarditis, and they just said that my heart rate was most likely elevated due to the virus and had me go home that day.

On July 6, I was taken back to the hospital because I had significantly gotten worse. This time I felt like my legs were double in size and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My legs had a veiny, blotchy look, and my lips were grayish and purple. I was dripping with sweat. My heart felt like it was going to explode, and my body was cold to the touch.

I knew something was very wrong, and I was screaming for help. They took me back again and tested me for all sorts of things and hooked me up to multiple machines. I was then transferred to the ICU when my health began to decline fast. Before I knew it, I was being airlifted to Anschutz Hospital. That flight was something I will never forget. I didn’t understand what was happening, and next thing I knew I couldn’t see the people in the helicopter and all the noises were gone. I felt extremely calm. My heart had stopped.

They quickly got me to Anschutz Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, where I was admitted (July 7) to the ICU. I was immediately put into a medically induced coma.

I had systolic heart failure. I went into cardiogenic shock, then septic and hemorrhagic shock. I was unresponsive to fluids. I was intubated for progressive hypoxemic respiratory failure and started on dialysis for worsening kidney failure and volume overload. My lungs had collapsed. I also developed rhabdomyolysis. I was internally bleeding on top of all that. The shock finally improved, and I was finally extubated July 19.

Throughout this phase of my illness, I developed extensive digital ischemia, limb necrosis, and purpura. From July 22 to Aug. 6, I had a total of three EGDs and five IR embolizations. I had gotten multiple blood transfusions during all of this. Due to the extensive tissue damage from purpura fulminans and DIC resulting in necrosis in the setting of high pressor requirements, I required bilateral BKAs with orthotrauma and amputation of bilateral digits with plastic surgery. I underwent the following procedures:
– L BKA (below knee amputation) 8/12/22
– Left wrist disarticulation (left hand amputation), right hand partial amputation 8/13/22
– R BKA (below knee amputation) 8/16/22
– BUE split thickness skin grafts from left thigh

I had a number of other issues during my hospitalization.

After all of the procedures and surgeries, I started to progress. I started doing multiple treatments, along with physical and occupational therapy. After fighting for my life. I was so relieved when they told me I could go back to California.

On Sept. 15, I was stable and on a medical flight back to California. I was admitted to a rehab center in Watsonville for a few weeks, then transferred to Dominican Acute Rehab Unit on Oct. 2. I was then able to meet with doctors, nurses, PT, and OT and come up with a game plan to get strong enough to work with prostheses. After a long 3-1/2 months staying in a hospital, I FINALLY got discharged to go home on Oct. 12.

On Nov. 1 I was fitted for my prostheses, and on Dec. 2 I got my first pair of legs!! On that same day that I got my legs, I took my very first steps in five months!! They didn’t think I would walk across the office that day, but if you know me you know how determined I am to push myself.

I am now using tools to help me walk and currently in the process of getting a myoelectric left hand to help me be more independent. I am continuing to work with PT and OT to gain strength. I still have a very long way to go, but I am trying to stay as strong and positive as I can. I cannot thank you all enough for the ongoing love and support through this. This is the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through, and I will keep fighting to better myself.

This is just the beginning of my story.