What It Actually Means to Be on a Ventilator

In the age of COVID-19, you’ve probably heard the term “ventilator” being thrown around quite a bit. That’s typically where people who get hit with the virus worse than others end up. But do you actually know what it means to be on a ventilator?

You might know it’s, well, not good to be on one, but one patient named Chris Gallo opened up about exactly what it was like. In his now-viral Facebook post, Chris talks in-depth about the entire process from start to finish.

He first addresses the common misconception that it’s just an oxygen mask. “It’s NOT an oxygen mask put over the mouth while the patient is comfortably lying down and reading magazines,” he said. “Ventilation for Covid-19 is a painful intubation that goes down your throat and stays there until you live or you die.”

He goes on to explain that it’s done under anesthesia for 2 r even 3 weeks “without moving, often upside down, with a tube inserted from the mouth up to the trachea and allows you to breathe to the rhythm of the lung machine,” he says. “The patient can’t talk or eat, or do anything naturally—the machine keeps you alive.”

“It’s like being in an artificial coma,” he concludes.

As for side effects from being on a ventilator, Chris says that after 20 days, even a young person can lose up to 40% of their muscle mass. There’s also the risk of trauma to your mouth or vocal cords and even pulmonary or heart problems later on.

Additionally, Chris adds that the patient is able to hear everything going on. And that’s no good because, “if the staff carelessly talks about death, the patient panics, “Chris explains. “If the sedatives are lessened, the patient panics because he can’t breathe or talk or, in his case, move. When they begin to lower the pain medications, the patient screams in his head but can’t make a sound.”

This all sounds pretty terrible, and perhaps much worse than one could have imagined if they didn’t truly know what it meant to be on a ventilator.

“It is for this reason that old or already weak people can’t withstand the treatment and die,” Chris goes on to explain. “Many of us are in this boat … so stay safe unless you want to take the chance of ending up here. This is NOT the flu.”

Check out his entire post about what it’s like to be on a ventilator here.

Did you know what being on a ventilator was like before this in-depth explanation? Do you know anyone who was put on a ventilator as a result of COVID-19?