Covid: Unvaccinated 22-year-old had to relearn to walk and lost all her hair after coma

050122 Ffion Barnett
Ffion Barnett spent 5 days in a coma after catching coronavirus.

An unvaccinated 22-year-old woman had to relearn how to walk and talk after catching Covid-19 and being put in an induced coma for five days.

Ffion Barnett found out she had Covid-19 just two days after her 22nd birthday.Soon after testing positive she began struggling to breathe and needed an urgent admission to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant.It was the start of a traumatic health scare for the student who would be put in an induced coma for five days and would need to relearn how to walk, talk, eat and even sleep."I wasn't vaccinated because I thought, being young with no health conditions, I was safe. Obviously I was wrong," she admitted."I now want to raise awareness of the importance of the vaccine and how Covid isn't just dangerous for the elderly; it can affect anyone."

Ffion, who works in a cafe and lived in Tonypandy, Rhondda, at the time she became unwell, said she first suspected she had coronavirus when she lost her sense of taste."I felt a bit rough before that, but I wasn't displaying any of the telltale symptoms," she recalled."But when I realised I couldn't taste that's when things got real."

The day after her 22nd birthday, Ffion went for a PCR test which came back as positive 24 hours later."I wasn't particularly worried at the time. I was just too focused on being in isolation and getting better," she added.

When her breathing became increasingly laboured, Ffion was admitted to the Royal Glamorgan Hospital on August 12, 2021 - a week after testing positive.She added: "I spoke to my mother who works at the hospital as a bank nurse. She knew that my breathing was very heavy and told me to go straight to hospital."My partner wheeled me into the hospital and I was taken straight into a room by resus. They did all my observations and stats and put me straight on oxygen. I then remember being taken to ward three where I spent the night. I had a funny turn there where I couldn't get up or walk."I was then admitted to ICU on Friday, August 13 - what a great day to be admitted."

Ffion was then put in an induced coma as doctors grew increasingly concerned about her high heart rate which they thought could result in her going into cardiac arrest. She was also struck down with Covid-induced pneumonia.She added that the medication she was being given - as doctors tried to bring her round from her coma - caused her to hallucinate."They tried getting me out of the coma after two or three days, but as I was so agitated they put me back under. I didn't know what was reality and what wasn't," she said."It must have been terrifying for my family, but in truth I was in no state to be frightened as I was so out of it."

Ffion said she was given "every machine going" to try and improve her oxygen levels, but they wouldn't work. Eventually she turned a corner after a 12-day spell in intensive care and was put back on ward three."Staff in the hospital were amazing. They literally do not stop. I don't know when they take breaks," she added."In ICU, even though I was out of it, there was always someone at my side."In total Ffion spent two weeks and five days at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital. Towards the end of her stay she had to learn how to talk, walk and eat properly again."When I did manage to talk it just wasn't my voice. Then when I got home I needed looking after. I needed help bathing, people had to make my food for me," she added.One unusual side-effect from the trauma of being in ICU was Ffion losing all her hair.

"I had really long, thick hair. I didn't start losing it until I came out of hospital," she explained."It was hard at first but it got to the point where I woke up one morning and decide to shave it off. I took it in my stride really."Ffion, who has now had her Covid vaccinations, said she has almost fully recovered from Covid-19 but remains lethargic all the time.