Published on June 15, 2022

Elsa Martinez - A Walking Miracle

Elsa Martinez started the New Year with high hopes and celebrations, but soon something was wrong.

“I had chest pain and was having a hard time breathing. Something just felt off,” she said.

Once first responders transported Elsa to Henry Mayo, that’s when she learned she tested positive for COVID-19 and had a stroke. She was admitted to the hospital shortly after with an inflamed heart, and suffered from a heart attack the next day.

“I never had any prior medical issues, I thought it was so odd I was being affected by COVID so severely,” Elsa said. “Everything was a blur, and I ended up in a coma for five weeks.”

While Elsa was in a coma, the Henry Mayo medical team worked tirelessly to save her while advising her family that her recovery could not be guaranteed.  Eventually, Elsa woke up and started breathing on her own.

After spending the next few weeks in the hospital’s intensive care unit, then the direct observation unit, Elsa was moved to Henry Mayo’s Acute Rehabilitation Unit, where her journey to recovery would start.

“It was such an emotional time. I has no muscle, I lost 23 pounds, wasn’t able to eat or drink on my own, I just has no strength,” Elsa said. “I felt so grumpy. I was a person who was more than capable of taking care of myself, and suddenly I wasn’t able to even feed myself.”

Despite her “grumpiness,” Elsa said the nurses in the ARU continued to work with her, and eventually got her to sit up, then stand up, and finally walk after three weeks on physical therapy.

“They were so patient with me. They always kept coming in to check on me and support me in spite of me wanting to be left alone,” she said. “After a while I thought that I had to try. These people were here to help me. Every day they made me feel safe and cared for.”

Elsa said the main points of her physical therapy sessions focused on her legs, back, and arms, since these are the areas she lost the most muscle mass. And after three weeks, Elsa was able to return home while continuing outpatient therapy sessions.

Now, Elsa is back to walking on her own without the use of a cane or walker.

“Everyone in the ARU was so patient and wonderful to me. They taught me how to do everything again in the easiest way possible. They’re so knowledgeable and know how to work your brain to get coordinated again. Now I finally have all my strength back

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