Welcome to Berit's site! This is a place where you can not only stay updated on Berit's COVID-19 journey but get to know a little more about her and our family.
On February 19th Berit and Tony took a trip to San Diego to attend one of their Jazz festivals. They frequently take trips across the country and world to enjoy jazz music with their close friends and one another. This trip was no different and was something they had been looking forward too for months. From Feb. 19th-24th they enjoyed jazz music, warm weather, and catching up with old friends. They took videos of their favorite artists as mementos of another wonderful trip. Upon returning from their trip Berit was scheduled to have a hysterectomy due to complications she was having from her long term chemotherapy drugs. For those of you who don't know, Berit has beat breast cancers butt three times! She is currently in remission but is on long term chemotherapy drugs per her doctor's request. Before her hysterectomy, she was to have a cardiac stress test done as she has a history of atrial fibrillation and CAD. Obtaining cardiac clearance is something commonly done prior to operations for individuals suffering from cardiac issues. Berit went in for her cardiac clearance stress test, run by her favorite PA Josh, expecting no issues as she had been feeling fine. Unfortunately, a couple of days after her stress test Josh called to inform her that some abnormalities were noted on her test and that prior to her hysterectomy she would need to undergo a cardiac angiogram procedure. A cardiac angiogram is an exploratory surgery cardiologist use to look for any blockages or abnormalities in the heart plumbing (arteries and veins). They insert a small wire through the radial artery and follow it to the heart. If any blockages are found they are often corrected then and there. If no abnormalities are noted the procedure is quite quick and no intervention required. Berit reported to Rose Medical Center on Friday, March 6th with her husband Tony and granddaughter Katie for her cardiac angiogram. Katie had previously worked at Rose Medical Center with the cardiologist who would be performing the procedure and both Berit and Tony were happy to have her there to act as a liaison. While waiting to go back for her procedure Berit complained of fatigue and just wanting to take a nap. That morning she had woke up with a slight sore throat but with no fever or other symptoms, the hospital gave the OK to proceed with her procedure. As a precaution they had her wear a mask. In the hours leading to her procedure, the machine did its due diligence in beeping every time Berit's oxygens levels dropped below 90. With her history of smoking, as well as the fact that the oxygen returned to 90+ when she took a couple of deep breaths, no red flags were drawn. A couple of hours later during her angiogram, a 95% blockage of her Posterior Artery was discovered and a stent was placed. Halleluiah! If the blockage would have gone unnoticed Berit would have likely suffered a major heart attack. Upon waking up from her procedure Berit reported being extremely fatigued and requesting no visitors or phone calls. Something rare from her as she loves hearing from friends and family. Saturday, March 7Th, morning Berit experienced the same fatigue as well as some shortness of breath (SOB). She was placed on oxygen. Toward the end of the day, she did feel well enough to skype with her brother Sture, an ICU physician in Sweden. Saturday evening her oxygen needs were increasing. She developed a progressive cough and blood work results came back with a high white blood cell count, indicative of an infection in her body. A chest X-ray was obtained showing signs of pneumonia. She was started on antibiotics and the Colorado Health Department was contacted out of fear of COVID-19 due to her recent San Diego trip. The state department said San Diego was not an area of worry and that no COVID-19 testing was necessary. Sunday brought more of the same and frustration began to raise. With a fixed blocked artery she should be feeling better, not worse, right? With oxygen and antibiotics in her system we should be seeing improvement, right? Wrong. From here things happened quite rapidly. By Monday (March 9th) afternoon Berit was being transported to the ICU at Rose Medical as her oxygen requirements were at 100% and her chest X-ray was getting worse. A COVID-19 test obtained and sent off. By Tuesday morning Berit was being sedated and incubated with a ventilator. No visitors were allowed in her room per COVID-19 protocols. She was immediately requiring 100% oxygen and high PEEP from the ventilator. New blood work showed high liver enzymes, something indictive of COVID-19. Her oxygen requirements remained high. By Wednesday (March 10th) her COVID-19 results were in and positive. With the positive result, anyone who had been in close contact with Berit was sent into a 14-day self-quarantine. This included Tony, Annika (Berit's daughter), Preston, Julian, and Katie (Berit's grandchildren). Marie (Berit's eldest daughter) now took over the role of going to the hospital to listen to morning rounds and get daily updates on her mom. This was short-lived because by Friday, March 13th, Berit's birthday, visitors were no longer allowed in the hospital. Marie was allowed to drop off a birthday card to her mom and then asked to leave. The next two weeks consisted of a lot of ups and downs. Berit was placed on a central line and paralytic so that she could be flipped between prone and supine positioning to help her oxygen levels. Whenever in the prone position her oxygen needs often dropped to 50-60% and PEEP 10-14. However, when she returned to supine (her back) her levels went right back up to 90-100% and 16-18 PEEP. During this time several phone calls were made overseas to Berit and Tony's family, who all still live in Europe. Sture, Berit's brother, was consulted frequently and his medical background brought many questions and requests for Berit's doctors. The highest in priority being 25,000mg of IV Vitamin C twice a day. Something he frequently did with his patients in Sweden and saw tremendous results with. Getting doctors here in the states to get on board with this was like pulling teeth. With doctors changing every couple of days it constantly felt like starting at square 1 when advocating for Berit. We finally got them to agree to start her on 1,500mg four times a day, nowhere near Sture's request but a start. We also asked that they play Jazz music in her room and dropped off a CD player with some of her favorite CD's. With a couple of doses of Vitamin C and jazz music playing Berit started to improve. Dr. Schwartz. the physician who had seen Berit on her first day in the ICU, was impressed with her progress and agreed to give her the full 25,000mg dose twice a day of Vitamin C. Huge progress was made on this full dose and Berit was taken off her paralytic and sedation was lightened. Plans to take Berit off the ventilator were made for Saturday, March 28th. Saturday morning came and Berit's oxygens and PEEP needs increased. She was increasingly agitated and more sedation was required. Later that day Marie found out she had not been getting her Vitamin C the last couple days as the hospital was running low. Furious Berit's family called around to several pharmaceutical companies and found some willing to sell IV Vitamin C to Rose Medical for Berit. Monday, March 30th Berit's full Vitamin C was restarted and will be continued through Friday, April 3rd. Her oxygen needs are still too high to take her off the ventilator and after 4 weeks, 29 days on the ventilator doctors are now worried about the risks that come with being incubated on a ventilator for that long. The new plan of action is to do a tracheotomy that will allow Berit more freedom and less sedation. This will allow her to move more independently and use her muscles that haven't moved in a month. A second COVID-19 test was sent off this week to see if Berit still has the virus in her system as her chest X-rays are still not improving. This information will also tell doctors and nurses how many precautions they need to take when placing her trach. We are hoping to get those test results by the end of this week and get moving on the tracheotomy.