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'I couldn't believe it would happen to me': Nurse gets chilling insight as COVID-19 patient

CALGARY (CityNews) – Code 66, a call one nurse is used to responding to, but Katrina Bringas was the one lying in a hospital bed with COVID-19, about to be transferred to the ICU.

She’s sharing her story of fighting on the frontlines to fighting for her life, at the same hospital she works at.

“I sent a lot of patients to ICU, and you know it’s 50/50,” said Bringas. “You can’t really tell if you survive or you die. So, I’m at that point where I’m realizing this is happening to me. I actually called my parents and my younger sisters in California, they live there. It’s hard. I literally said goodbye to everybody. ”

The 41-year-old, along with her sister and her sister’s family, tested positive in early January. Still, on holidays from Foothills Medical Centre, Bringas used a vital signs kit to check on her sister while isolating at home.

But their conditions worsened and they were admitted to Foothills Jan. 10, staying in the same COVID unit room before staff called Code 66, a critical warning as Bringas’ blood pressure began rising. It was time to go to Intensive Care

“My lungs got really inflamed by the COVID pneumonia, basically my lungs started failing. The only way for me to breath was through a ventilator.”

Intubated and ventilated, she said the next few days were a blur. Unsure if she really heard nurses she knew trying to wake her up or if she was having vivid dreams or experiencing delirium.

Bringas was transferred back to the COVID Unit Jan. 26, where she was treated for an infection and second case of pneumonia, before being discharged three days later.

The University of Calgary graduate normally works on an acute pulmonary and thoracic surgery unit at Foothills, but Bringas was on days off and isn’t sure where she contracted the virus.

After almost a year carefully putting on PPE during a pandemic, she has another reason to thank her fellow frontline workers, after gaining the unfortunate insight of being on the other side.

“Even if you’re young, this can happen to you. It’s emotional. Am I traumatized? Yes, of course, I’m traumatized, I almost died. It’s really hard because now I’m the patient, I couldn’t believe it would happen to me.”