ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Back in October, Peggy Kuehl, a home health nurse, became one of the now hundreds of thousands of Virginians to test positive for the coronavirus.
She was brought to Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital, but what came next was the most frightening experience.
“I was taken into the hospital on October 30 and I woke up the week before Christmas,” Kuehl said.
For seven weeks, Peggy Kuehl was in the ICU battling and holding on for life against COVID-19 and pneumonia.
“My family spent more than several days going hour to hour whether knowing if I was going to survive,” she said.
When she finally did wake up and restore consciousness, the long road to recovery was underway. She had a trach and couldn’t talk or eat. But through her faith, and Sentara’s staff, she slowly started to recover.
“The nurses and assistants worked very hard,” she said. “They learned how to lip read and we communicated with pointing and lip-reading.”
Ashley Easter, a respiratory therapist, was by Peggy’s side the whole way.
“I got to be with her she took her first bite of mashed potatoes since October and we both cried,” Easter said. “It was an amazing moment she said they were the best mashed potatoes she’s ever had.”
And then, after 82 long, arduous days of fighting for her life, a moment of a lifetime.
Peggy was greeted by clapping and cheering nurses, ICU staff, and therapists.
“I got hugs and high fives and it was just the most amazing thing,” she said through tears. “I cannot tell you how emotional that is. It’s just a wonderful experience. It made me know that I wasn’t alone in my journey.”
A journey of a healthcare hero, saved by healthcare heroes. Now telling others, even during our darkest hours: keep going.
“Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Have faith,” she said. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. You can survive and you can come out.”
Peggy Kuehl is currently at home with family and says she is feeling wonderful. She says she still receives some home services, including a therapist who helps her work to exercise and increase stamina.