Faith, a Vacaville family says, can bring miracles.
When Juanita Ramirez, the family’s matriarch, contracted COVID-19 in December and was rushed to the hospital, doctors immediately told her loved ones that there was no hope.
But five months later, following hospitalizations and being put on a ventilator, Juanita miraculously recovered. She’s now back at home and continuing to heal. Her family attributes her wellness to God.
“We believe in the power of prayer,” shared Wally Ramirez, Juanita’s son, from his perch outside his mom’s home.
Juanita was struck down suddenly and her illness rapidly advanced. She had been at work and fell asleep upon her return home.
“I didn’t feel nothing,” she said from her porch on a recent weekend, though others believed there were symptoms.
“A friend said she was coughing a lot,” recalled her daughter, Antonette Ramirez-Rhode. “Finally it got to the point were she couldn’t breathe.”
Juanita went to the emergency room at a local hospital. Almost immediately after she was diagnosed with COVID-19, her family said, they were given bad news.
“They said she wasn’t going to make it,” Antonette remembered.
It was a grueling night as family from throughout the state gathered at the hospital, heartbroken that they would have to say goodbye. But they didn’t really believe the prognosis and let her know when they were finally able to see her.
“(We) were telling her to fight,” Antonette said.
“I don’t remember anything,” Juanita chimed in.
She would miss Christmas, then New Year’s, and several birthdays including her own.
She was transferred to a Folsom facility in February to wean her from the ventilator. She got an infection, her kidneys failed and she was put on dialysis.
Despite the grim situation, the family held out hope.
“Every Sunday, family would visit the hospital to pray. Every day I would call, I had her on video,” Antonette said. Later, she said, “I got to see her. I got to touch her, hold her hand.”
Still, negativity on the part of doctors apparently remained three months in and it was hard not to be angry.
“I asked them to do what they were trained to do and God’s gonna handle the rest,” Antonette said.
Juanita was set to be transferred to a facility in San Diego, but the family said no. It was too far for them to travel to and they knew no one there. So they decided to get trained on how to treat her themselves so they could bring her home.
It was a tough process, Antonette said, and she, a friend and her eldest son all learned the skills needed to help Juanita with her ventilator and anything else she needed.
“She couldn’t walk or talk,” Antonette pointed out.
Soon, a bored Juanita was moving around.
“I wanted to get up and walk but they wouldn’t let me so I just sat up,” she said.
After that day, she received physical therapy twice a day.
“She told the doctors, ‘I’m gonna walk out of here,’” Antonette noted.
Meanwhile, her residence was readied for her May homecoming. An independent power system was put in to handle all of her medical devices, Wally said.
“It’s great being home,” Juanita exclaimed. “My daughter’s been here day and night, my kids, my grandkids.”
Still, faith remains a strong element almost every moment of every day.
“The power of prayer is powerful,” Wally emphasized. “Through prayer, she’s still here.”
Juanita now goes for short walks and can breathe for short periods without her ventilator.
She’s eating, said her grandson, James Lara, though the food is a bit different.
“She had Chinese food for the first time,” he shared, “Pureed.”
A favorite puree — Kentucky Fried Chicken pot pie and mashed potatoes.
Since she’s been home, she celebrated a belated Christmas, her birthday, and her homecoming. It was a blessing, Juanita said.
There was also a prayer circle, Antonette added.
“All the time we got to pray for her and this time we got to pray with her,” Antonette mused.
Some friends were lost during this time, Antonette continued, and some were gained.
“The little reminders of God being there for us have been amazing,” she said.
“God has been good. He gave us a second chance,” she said. “He gave me a chance at life.”
She shared a message she hopes will help others.
“Wear your mask. It’s very serious, especially with the new variant,” she said, of COVID-19. “You can’t take any chances.”
Wally, too, had a message.
“Let people know, don’t give up,” he said.