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'I stopped breathing': Nampa woman describes her COVID-19 near-death experience

Olivia Estrada, a 36-year-old mother of four, said she collapsed after driving herself to the hospital.

NAMPA, Idaho — As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise daily across Idaho, Idaho healthcare leaders on Tuesday voiced their concerns that the growing caseload and could soon overwhelm the local hospital system.

A Nampa woman knows exactly what it's like to be hospitalized and fighting for her life due to coronavirus and she has a message for those who are not taking the pandemic seriously. 

Olivia Estrada described the near-death experience as a terrifying ordeal.

The 36-year-old mother of four said she started to feel feverish on June 20, the day before Father's Day. She went and got tested, and got confirmation that she had COVID-19 three days later.

One week after her initial symptoms started, Estrada couldn't catch her breath. So she called her mom, then drove herself to the hospital.

"I got to the hospital and by that time I'm cold and I'm hot and, and I told the lady 'help, I need help, I feel like I'm dying,'" Estrada said.

She collapsed and when she woke up several hours later she was in an ambulance being taken to an ICU In Boise.

"I stopped breathing and I remember they were giving me oxygen," she said.

Estrada spent nearly a week in the hospital, but due to the highly contagious nature of the coronavirus she was unable to have visitors.

"I was scared, honestly," she said. "I was scared because usually my mom comforts me. My family couldn't go up, nobody could go up. I was by myself, I was crying, just like what am I doing here? I couldn't believe it."

After six days in the ICU, Estrada is now back home recovering. Some symptoms, like headaches, continued for about a week and a half after being released from the hospital.

She told KTVB the experience with COVID-19 taught her an important lesson.

"If I'd known it would have hit me like this I probably wouldn't have been so careless," she said. "But then again as deadly as coronavirus is, it saved my life honestly because I was in a bad spot."

Estrada said before she was hospitalized, she used methamphetamine. She stopped the day before she was diagnosed, and actually credits the virus with saving her life.

"I'm not going to lie, I was in a bad spot and it saved my life, the virus saved my life," she said.

"You know just talking like this, feeling a little out of breath, but to be able to tell my story to tell people how important it is....just so people can hear that it is important, it is important," she added. "Now I'm telling people [to] wear a mask, like wear a mask."

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