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COVID-19 patient recovers after nearly two months in intensive care

Sarah Ayala went to Mission Regional Medical Center in Hidalgo County, Texas, on July 3.

AUSTIN, Texas — A woman who spent nearly two months in intensive care with COVID-19 is finally out.

Sarah Ayala went to Mission Regional Medical Center in Hidalgo County, Texas, July 3. She fought the virus from the intensive care unit most of that time.

While she is out now, the fight isn’t over.

“My foot is still asleep,” Ayala said.

She said blood flow to her feet was limited while she was in a coma, battling infections for weeks. It’s hard for her to walk. She said it’s painful, even at rest.

Credit: TEGNA

However, the most difficult part of waking up in ICU was the guilt, she said. She never wanted her family to suffer.

“I don't remember if I told them, ‘I love you,’ before I left. I don't remember it. … If something would have happened, I wouldn't want them to feel like, ‘I didn't hear the last words from my mother.’” Ayala said.

The Rio Grande Valley is one of the hardest-hit areas for COVID-19. There have been 1,311 deaths in Hidalgo County as of Sept. 9.

Ayala’s husband, Robert Elizondo, slept most nights in the hospital parking lot. He said it was to be near his wife

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“He's a big teddy bear,” Ayala said.

“You don't realize how much you really love somebody whenever you stop hearing their voice for one day to the next,” Elizondo said.

Hundreds of more families in their area hope for a success story like this.

As of Sept. 9, 257 people are in a hospital with COVID-19 in Hidalgo County. Ninety-nine people are in intensive care across the five hospitals.

“I understand how grateful we are for the smallest things,” Elizondo said.

Ayala said she is more cautious now and tries to warn others about the dangers of COVID-19.

“We say, ‘Love your loved ones, hug them, and tell them you love them,’ you know? Because you never know. You just never know. Love them like there is no tomorrow,” Ayala said.

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