Western New York COVID survivor reflects on her road to recovery


(WIVB) — A Western New York COVID survivor is reflecting on her road to recovery almost a year after she contracted the virus.

Sixty-six-year-old Rose Wiltberger was on a ventilator for 87 days last spring and summer.

Doctors thought she wouldn’t survive and now almost a year later, Rose is still recovering.

Wiltberger is finally able to walk on her own again almost a year after she first tested positive for COVID-19.

“It’s little steps, but I’m doing it.”

Rose is still on oxygen to help her breathe, but this is progress that she and her family weren’t sure she’d ever make.

“My family, like I said, talked to me. I was in a coma. I didn’t hear them or nothing, but they said, ‘hang on you can do it. You’re strong. You can do it. You’re going to wake up.’ The next morning, I opened my eyes and I started talking.”

Rose and her husband Albert, got sick with COVID last April, at the height of the pandemic. Rose spent 87 days on a ventilator at the hospital.

She returned home finally in August with oxygen and a walker.

But only a month later, she hit a road block and was having trouble breathing.

Doctors diagnosed her with pneumonia and sent her back to the hospital for another two weeks.

“I thought it was never going to end. I thought that was going to be my home forever,” Wiltberger said.

Since then Rose has made steady progress.

She was able to celebrate the holidays with her family which her daughter Amy says was a special time.

“I’m just glad that she’s here and we’ve grown stronger as a family,” Amy said.

Rose says a recent x-ray showed her lung health is improving. Still, she says, she doesn’t feel nearly the same as she did before COVID.

Doctors recently diagnosed her with PTSD stemming from her struggle with the virus.

“It’s like I’m leading another life right now. I’m not the same person that I was before COVID,” Wiltberger said.

Rose says she still has a ways to go before she feels back to normal. She’s grateful for her family who has helped her get through the last year.

And she says, she’s especially grateful for her life.

“They said most people, in fact, 99% of the people who come in here as bad as you were, don’t leave the ICU. They pass away,” Wiltberger said. “If that’s not an answer to prayers, from everyone. It’s just unbelievable.”

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