The mindfulness of coronavirus survivors, reports from 20 face-to-face experiences with death – La Stampa

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The mindfulness of coronavirus survivors, chronicles of 20 face-to-face experiences with death

They experienced the frightening symptoms of Covid-19 on their skin. They have been in intensive care, intubated or under the helmet of high pressure oxygen where the sensation is that of dying suffocated. Often, in fact, they have been one step away from death and aware of it, in a situation of heartbreaking isolation from loved ones, and not infrequently forced to witness the death of their bed neighbors. Some, due to sedation, remember almost nothing. Others have very vivid memories, but which sometimes look more like incongruent hallucinations. Most coronavirus survivors describe the experience of the disease as a descent into hell. A traumatic path from which, like Dante, you come out tested, but also more aware of yourself and perhaps better. There are those who wrote the will on the pages of a book. Those who have promised themselves to radically change their existence, those who have discovered faith in a different god and those who, at 102 years of age, have understood that they still want to live. Many feel that they have returned to a new life, but there are those who are convinced that once the emergency has passed, the world will force them to live it exactly as before.

Sergio Ramazzotti – https://parallelozero.com


© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Igor Prussiani, 48, entrepreneur, Curno (BG)
«I remember terrible images. People around me who couldn’t breathe. You saw them raise their hands for help, because they were suffocating, and the nurse nearby could not do anything. People kept dying. It was like a nightmare, at one point I thought: what the hell am I doing in here?
They told me not to worry, but how can you not worry when you keep seeing people around you die? At a certain moment, when I started to feel better, they told me to sit down to eat something, but I replied that I was referring to lying down, so I wouldn’t have to look around again. And in all this, I don’t know why, I continued to have the spasmodic desire to drink an orange drink “

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Italica Grondona, 102, Genoa

«I never imagined I would be in this condition at 102 years old. This disease still seems to me almost a dream, it does not seem real to me. And it seems so strange that it happened to me. I had already made the Spanish influence, which broke out at the end of the world war, and I remember that I felt more or less like now. But the pain I felt this time, I had never experienced it before in my life. They did so many tests, one after the other, entering with the needle. At times I thought that if I died it would be my release. It was extremely painful: an image that I associate with that pain is the fireworks. I don’t have the courage to throw myself out the window: if I had, I probably would have. Who knows, maybe I still want to live »

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Carlo Giussani, 60, radiologist technician, Cremona
«We don’t realize we are breathing. You understand it only when you lack air, as I missed when I was under the oxygen helmet. There you understand that you could die, and every time you try to breathe in you feel like a clock beating inside you. And just when you would like the comfort of your partner, to be able to talk to her, you lack the strength to do it: I listened to her voice messages, but I could not answer. There was a time when I thought I wasn’t going to make it. I reviewed my life, I wondered if I had done everything right, if I had loved how I should have loved. And with difficulty I also wrote a testament: unfortunately the only book I had brought was a comic volume by Cochi and Renato. It is there that I wrote my last wishes. I have thought about many things, and many have promised myself. I will try to put them into practice. But if I have to think about the community, I don’t think that this experience in general will make us better: if we were assholes before, we will remain even after “

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Giorgio Seminati, 78, Gorle (BG)
«I was hospitalized in Ponte San Pietro for 20 days, under oxygen, it was an unspeakable suffering. I witnessed the death of three of my roommates. And in that same period my brother also passed away, who was not a simple relative but a friend and a life partner: we were orphans at an early age, I was two years old and he was five, and from the orphanage to college and all adulthood we had always been together. And I feel guilty because I did it and he didn’t. The experience marked me deeply and made me fragile. My salvation was my daughter, who works as a nurse in that same hospital. Whenever the shift ended, he came to me to assist and heal me. All the nurses were extraordinary, in those astronauts’ suits where they suffered, they had the strength to call me puppy, boy, love, and I am a grandfather. I was afraid of losing my life, my family affections, the only thing that gives meaning to our existence. And today I am aware that I had a new one as a gift. During this experience I rediscovered the faith: we are all Catholics in rose water, but in those hard moments I found myself praying with a new fervor. Now that I have been hosted for a month in a Covid hotel in Bergamo, I always attend the Pope’s mass on television. I know that my scale of values ​​has changed: before this happened I wanted to replace the machine, now I don’t care anymore. I must enjoy my affections ».

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Franco Pugliese, 67, doctor, San Polo di Podenzano (PC)
«In the hospital they put on my oxygen helmet almost immediately, my colleagues told me in no uncertain terms that otherwise I ran the risk of being intubated. I had a panic crisis after an hour. I tried to calm down to endure what was truly torture. I didn’t know I was supposed to do this for 18 days. At one point I felt the clear feeling that my head had separated from the body, which I no longer felt. I convinced myself that I had become just a head. I no longer had the knowledge of the time, and I felt in another dimension. My fixed thought was the terror of dying, and I was very aware of being on a ridge from which I could slide down to death at any moment. The moments of my life passed in front of me in a disorderly way, floating like pieces of cork. The sunrises gave me courage, which I saw from the window near my bed: every time I saw the sun come up, I felt I had won a little battle. The most terrible moment of despair was when I saw my son, also a doctor, enter wearing his overalls. He shook my hand and he couldn’t speak. We both had tears in our eyes, and finally he said to me: ‘You know I’ve always loved you.’ In those moments I took stock of my life, saying to myself that it was unfair that I had to die, after having dedicated a life to helping others, but I also made a long list of regrets and remorse. An experience of incredible power: it makes you understand the meaning of the word life like nothing else. I imagined that I felt what those who are told that their death sentence will be carried out the following day “

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Ida Cappa, 56, artisan, San Vittore Olona (MI)
«I was hospitalized in Castellanza. The symptoms worsened rapidly, until the day they announced that they should urgently intubate me. It was night, they told me that there was not much time left and I should quickly call a family member. I phoned my sister, telling her in tears that maybe we would never see each other again. At that moment I was sure I was going to die. Down in ICU the doctors surrounded me and told me they would fall asleep, but don’t worry because I was in good hands. I woke up after two weeks. While I was sleeping I dreamed of being in a green meadow full of light and animals, and I heard everything that the doctors said: they feared that they would not be able to save me. I was unconscious, but I realized perfectly well that all of a sudden, desperate, the doctors decided to put me in a prone position. I remember I wanted to protest, but I couldn’t speak. I later learned that one of them had telephoned my sister, telling her that there was almost no hope for me. I felt beside me the presence of my father, long dead: he kept my hand on his leg and kept saying to me: ‘You have to fight, you have to do it’, while I replied that I couldn’t take it anymore and I wanted to die. Then I woke up. The next two weeks I spent on oxygen, and I continued with hallucinations, I was sure I had my whole family around me. People died around me, they closed the bodies in the bags. I asked the nurses to put a screen so that I wasn’t forced to see, they apologized saying there were none. I remember a doctor returning from two consecutive days on duty in the hospital: he came to get me a sample, and collapsed at the foot of my bed with fatigue. Before this disease I no longer believed in love or friendship, I had isolated myself: I was amazed to find out how many of those people I thought were lost cried and prayed for me. “

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Angelo Cortinovis, 48, priest, Bergamo
«I spent a week in resuscitation in a pharmacological coma, in a prone position. According to the doctors, my recovery was a miracle, since I was literally one step away from death. I remember almost nothing of that week. The only thing I remember is that all of a sudden I convinced myself that I ended up in a video game, a stupid game, in which I was the player. A completely incongruent image, since I have never played a video game in my life. And I had a recurring thought: since I was terribly thirsty, I obsessively wanted to drink a Pepsi. Even that I don’t know what sense it makes, since I don’t like Pepsi: yet it’s the first thing I did after returning home »

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Yaoling Zhu, 43, entrepreneur, Milan
«While I was hospitalized, my thoughts were concentrated on my brother, who was also in the hospital in
Bergamo, waiting for an ICU bed, which they could not find. I woke up at night full of anguish and thought about him, I thought he would die away from me, or that I would die away from him, and that I would never see him again. Then one day I saw on my cell phone that terrible image of the army trucks carrying the coffins from Bergamo, and I cried all my tears. In those moments, my Buddhist belief helped me to reconcile myself with the idea of ​​death, but I was desperate because I thought I would leave my children alone. While I was in the hospital, I promised myself that if I got out alive I would do many things, but I realize that I am not keeping those promises. I am an ugly Milanese, and I returned to the usual frenzy of my previous life, where you are not an individual, you are just a gear »

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Marco Cavalli, 52, craftsman, Curno (BG)
«I arrived at the hospital on 12 March, at Giovanni XXIII in Bergamo. In the days of hospitalization, under oxygen, I saw many stretchers parading in front of me with those who had not made it. I am lucky, I have been here for a month in the Covid hotel in Bergamo. Even if I am in the fourth consecutive positive buffer. In the early days, I feared that I wouldn’t make it, especially because I watched the news on television, it seemed that we patients were destined to die all, and the hospitals were not in a position to save us. I was thinking of my family, unfortunately I had plenty of time to think about them and to imagine how they could have gone on without me, if I had died. Now that I’m almost out of it I think about my job, I’m afraid of what the future will be like, how I will be able to start again, as long as the conditions for doing it are there. In the darkest moments I thought I had to fix my life, above all to find suitable accommodation for my family. The current one is too small for five people, we only have one bathroom, which is why I can’t go home. And then I want to forget everything: starting from scratch ».

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Gian Luca Rota, 88, priest, Bergamo
“I was in the emergency room a whole day before they found me a bed at the Gavazzeni. Then they immediately put me under high pressure oxygen. I felt short of air, it was a terrible feeling. Two of my neighbors in bed have died, one after the other. One day they told me that my brother, four years younger than me, who was hospitalized in another hospital in Como, also died of Covid-19. There was a moment when I handed myself over to the Lord and said to him: do what you want with me. From that moment I started to feel better. Then I dreamed of a room of mine, a small room with a bed, a bathroom, only mine. I dreamed of intimacy. Sometimes at night I wake up and still hear the sound of stretchers carrying the dead away ».

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Sergio Picchio, 75, building designer, Genoa
«I entered the hospital on March 12th. After a few days they put me under the helmet with oxygen a
pressure. But it didn’t work, so they induced me the drug coma and intubated me. In those conditions I spent a week, before waking up and realizing the situation: they told me that I was so scared that I got to tear the tube myself. In my nightmares, I remember developing the most lucid and total certainty of being seized by a private clinic that wanted to extort 200 thousand euros from me for the treatments, while the carabinieri were also in league with the clinic. And this certainty continued to haunt me even after I left the coma. So much so that as soon as I was able to make the first call to my wife, I told her this story and asked her to call the finance guard to come and rescue me. At a certain point I also convinced myself that the doctors wanted to kill me by injecting me with drugs: in fact I had tried to pack defense weapons by changing the cutlery that they brought me to eat. They told me that even once I attacked a doctor. And I’m sorry, because the healthcare staff was absolutely
extraordinary and I have infinite gratitude towards them ».

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Silvio Caligaris, 65, infectious disease specialist, Brescia
“During the first three weeks of the epidemic, I worked tirelessly in hospital shifts to deal with the huge number of patients. Many of these died, some also because we had to make very tough choices, since the places were limited, and I think all this caused me a stress that weakened my immune defenses, causing me to contract the COVID-19. In intensive care I was afraid, I feared I was going to die, and I cried a lot seeing patients who died around me. The thing that frightened me most were the eyes of my colleagues, the ones I work with every day: above the mask I saw them more and more worried about me, and as a doctor I realized that my situation was precipitating. My wife works as a nurse in the same hospital, every now and then she came to look at me beyond the glass, and I saw her cry. It was devastating. “

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Gianmario Della Giovanna, 51, priest, Bergamo
“As soon as I was hospitalized, they immediately put on my helmet, and left me in the emergency room at the Seriate hospital. The next morning they took me to the ward. The most intense memory is that of pain: I had never suffered from such a terrible disease in my whole life. Especially the one caused by arterial blood samples, which was frightening. To bear it helped me the thought that if a needle was able to cause me such pain, what did it mean to have had a nail hammered in the wrist, and left there for hours, until the end of the agony of the cross. This helped me to join in a powerful way, previously unthinkable, with my faith, to feel its incarnation on me. I entered the hospital with a God, and I came out with a completely different one. I still need to develop this experience “

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Cristina Marenzi, 56, Cremona
«My husband was hospitalized for Covid-19, and was on sub-intensive care. At the same time, my daughter and I also tested positive, and the experience of having a loved one in the hospital, far away, while I was in those conditions and in isolation at home, was psychologically devastating, in a situation of war. When my husband started to feel very bad and not breathing, we called 118, but the ambulance never came. My daughter and I took it to the hospital. I remember this intense, white light that illuminated the parking lot of the deserted hospital, a ghostly vision. And the silence between us. That was the last time I saw my husband before he came home “

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

«Alberto Matteelli, 60, infectious disease specialist, Passirano (BS)
«Once in the hospital, the progress was rapid, in a few days they took me to intensive care. It’s a
period of which I have few memories, when they got to the point of having to intubate I no longer have any memory. I had the opportunity to read my clinical diary, which shows that my condition was extremely serious. That reading caused me a shock. Only then did I realize that I risked dying. The solitude in the room where they brought me once I came out of the resuscitation, and where I spent 12 days, was very hard. But those days were useful for understanding the enormous value of the small things in life: what we consider nonsense, and which instead are able to give you true happiness “

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Roberto Timpano, 50, postal employee, Lecco
“On March 5, after many days at home with a high fever, I had a sudden and noticeable drop in oxygenation and I was hospitalized in intensive care. I spent several days under the helmet
oxygen. When it wasn’t tarnished, I could look out the window in front of me, and I could see ambulances arriving all the time. One evening I took off my helmet, I couldn’t take it anymore, and a nurse rushed, and I even had the feeling that she had taken off her mask to shout at me: ‘If you want to live, you must put it back on immediately’. He told me with such emphasis that I got scared. I’ve never had a real terror of dying, but today I wonder how my social relationships will change: people will be afraid of me, why could I still be infected? Or will I be afraid of others, because I fear that they can infect me again and make me fall again into that hell? Today I consider myself lucky to have not seen anyone die next to me. What is certain is that in my company, where there are around 300 in the whole province, three of us fell ill. One colleague died, and another – with whom I have worked side by side for 15 years – is still hospitalized in very critical conditions. And I feel guilty towards them, for doing it »

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Angelo Vavassori, 53, resuscitator, Treviolo (BG)
«When they put my helmet on, I was afraid of suffocating. It’s a horrible feeling. As a doctor, I knew that the opposite happened physiologically, that forced pressure was opening up my lung alveoli more. But my body and my mind told me I was dying suffocated. Only then did I really understand what my patients felt, which I had often seen panic and tear off the helmet. I would have done it too. When they took me to the hospital, the same where I work, I said goodbye to my children as if it were the last time. Under the helmet I realized that I was not improving, and I was already thinking about what awaited me later: intubation, pulmonary ventilator. I was sure I wouldn’t be
I went out and I prayed to God to give me at least the chance to see my children grow up. One day, a colleague of mine came to shake me hard and shouted at me: Angelo, you have to do it. That jolt is the thing that gave me the most courage, just what I needed at the time. Another image that helped me was that of the Telgate crucifix: my mother sent it to me on the phone. I don’t know how she did it, she never knew how to use a smartphone »

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Fabio Chiodelli, 56, teacher, Cremona
“They admitted me to an orthopedics department converted to a Covid department. I have seen many patients spend more than one night sleeping on chairs, because stretchers were missing. I was among the first hospitalized, when there was still no perception of the strong lethality of the virus. I started to worry when I saw the staff in the overalls, and the infectious disease chief who trained the nurses, who came from wards that had nothing to do with it, about the safety provisions typical of a department with a high risk of contagion “

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

Daniele Silvani, 65, municipal employee, Crema
«The blood gases, the arterial withdrawals, were very painful. The most vivid image I have of that period are the
eyes of the nurse, who several times a day came to collect me. They were eyes that said sorry, I’m forced to do it. I do not understand that a person who cared for me, and who was doing so was risking his own life, found the strength to apologize. Just as I struggle to accept that someone, among my neighbors in bed, did not survive, while I did it. You saw those steel stretchers leave with a body on them, and you could hear the squeaking of the wheels, and you thought: here is another one who did not succeed. When I seriously feared dying, I clung to the thought of my family at home. I desperately wanted to go home. Now that I am there, I feel I have been reborn. My new life began on April 7, 2020. There are many people to whom I must apologize: it is one of the purposes that I made on my deathbed. And I have to review the relationship with my daughter: talk, talk, tell us everything. “

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

© Sergio Ramazzotti / Parallelozero

ISerajul Islam, 47, worker, Gallarate (VA)
“When they told me I had coronavirus, I almost went crazy. I had to leave my son at home in Gallarate while my wife and the rest of my family are in Bangladesh. I was afraid of dying, and on the phone we cried a lot together. I was afraid that I could never see them again. Since I healed, this is a new life for me. And I want to live it by helping others, as the Koran prescribes. This was the purpose I gave myself while I was afraid of dying: to live according to the principles of the Koran »



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https://www.lastampa.it/cronaca/2020/05/28/news/la-mindfulness-dei-sopravvissuti-al-coronavirus-cronache-da-20-esperienze-faccia-a-faccia-con-la-morte-1.38897383

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