Aleixandrea Macias Texas ICU nurse recounts COVID-19 patients in Facebook post living last days alive as many end up dying and the horrors of treating them.
A Texas ICU nurse working on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19 has shared a post discussing the realities of the illness and its impact – in which she warns ‘nobody has left her unit yet except in a body bag’.
Aleixandrea Macias, 24, of Brownsville, shared the post Monday night after her eleventh day working in a makeshift ICU set up specifically to treat coronavirus patients.
While sharing an image of herself in tears, and with sores from wearing a face mask, the mother-of-four confessed that she has ‘never seen anything like this before’ and that she feels as though her fight against the illness has been ‘a game of seeing how long we can keep patients half alive’.
Aleixandrea, who is not normally an ICU nurse, described the reality of working day in and day out to save patients, only for so many of them to die – admitting that her efforts feel increasingly ‘futile’.
‘I have never seen anything like this before, never taken care of someone that is so healthy but at the same time so deathly sick,’ she wrote.
‘Being in an ICU setting I am keeping my same patients day after day until they die. No one has left our unit yet except in a body bag.’
The healthcare worker also expressed her anger at the lack of staff and supplies – warning that she and her colleagues are not able to do everything in their power to try and save people, because they don’t have the necessary resources.
‘I can’t count the times I have heard, “Well we could try and do this but we don’t have this,” she said. ‘I’m not an ICU nurse at all, but neither is hardly anyone else working these units now.’
But for Aleixandrea, the most devastating thing has been watching patients come in to the ICU, frightened and alone, and shared her account of listening to them speak to their families for a final time before being sedated and put on a ventilator.
‘I’ve seen patients arrive on our unit not yet sedated or vented but in extreme respiratory distress and beyond frightened,’ she wrote. ‘I have explained what COVID is doing to their body, what the risks are of being intubated vs not, and I have listened as these people have called their family members for the very last time prior to being intubated.
‘If I can leave here with anything at all, I can know that I helped give them those last moments with their family.’
Many of Aleixadrea’s patients are Spanish speaking, and she said she has been trying her best to translate for them in her own broken Spanish so that they can at least have some peace of mind before being put on a ventilator – crediting her husband Julio with teaching her the language the dailymail reports.
But even after her patients are unconscious and intubated, Aleixandrea is haunted by the sound of their phones, which continue to ring as their families try and reach them for an update.
‘After they are sedated, their personal belongings are still there. Their phones still ring,’ she said. ‘That’s the worst is listening to the phones ring knowing someone is calling and praying they will answer just one more time.’
‘Anyone can fall victim: take this seriously.’
And to those who still believe that COVID-19 is an illness that only the elderly or the immunocompromised need to worry about, Aleixandrea had a stark warning – insisting that many of patients she sees are in perfect health before being struck down by the disease.
‘These people are not old. They are young. Many with no medical problems. Strong people, physically fit. One who even worked five jobs at a time until Covid ravaged his body,’ she warned.
‘This virus kills people.’
But despite feeling like she is fighting a losing battle, Aleixandrea vowed to keep trying to save patients, and to do everything in her power to provide as much comfort as possible for those in her unit, explaining that she would want someone else to do the same for her own family.
Still, she admits her efforts feel incredibly ‘futile’.
‘They all die at some point, it’s just been a game of seeing how long we can keep them half alive,’ she said.
‘I feel like our efforts are futile, but I still try so hard and get so upset because I know that if it were Julio or anyone in my family laying there I would want the same done. When their bodies finally give up fighting, we place them in a body bag.’
Her patients, Aleixandrea said, are dying alone, without their loved ones to comfort them, or say a final farewell – and that, for her, is one of the most painful parts of COVID-19: ‘There is no closure for anyone in this.
‘I can’t explain to you how bad this hurts, how real this is, and how afraid I am knowing that it could get like this in my own hometowns.
The nurse ended her Facebook post with a plea to members of the public, begging them to listen to healthcare workers and ‘take this seriously’ – while warning that so many medical staff will likely be left with PTSD.
‘My heart hurts so bad tonight for these families who have lost people entirely too soon, for those who are sick and absolutely terrified, and for all of us who will surely have some form of PTSD after this is over,’ she wrote.