MADISON, Ill. - A southern Illinois high school teacher has a lesson she wants to share about COVID.
She nearly died and her case is being called a miracle.
Suzi Fraticelli was excited to be back in person, teaching special education in downstate Madison. Two weeks into the school year, she contracted a serious case of COVID-19.
Coincidentally, Suzi had made an appointment at her local Walgreens to get vaccinated.
On the very same day, the symptoms of COVID took hold.
"About an hour later, a mack truck hits me, it’s the only way I know how to describe it," Suzi said. "And my oldest son laid on the bed and cried, he said, ‘Mom!’ I said ‘ok.’ And he practically carried me downstairs."
Suzi could not breathe. She went to Anderson Hospital in Madison suffering from respiratory failure.
She signed a do not resuscitate form and prepared for the worst, alone.
Suzi said that was the hardest, not being able to say goodbye to her family. She thought to herself, "Lord, is this it? Am I done on this earth?"
The medical team at Anderson Hospital tried to be present for her and all of their patients.
Brenda Karateew, one of her nurses, said that the isolation takes a mental toll.
"They're alone. We are their family, the doctors and nurses we're in there," said Karateew.
Dr. Taha Jabbar, who oversaw Suzi’s care throughout her admission, gave Suzi a 40 percent chance of recovery.
The medical team would not give up, they tried every treatment.
Friends and family could not visit due to COVID-19 restrictions so they followed her case on Facebook, fearing the worst and offering prayers and sympathy.
"It's a very real disease and on this earth, we don't know when our last days are," Suzi said.
Nurse Kerri Cox said the staff has been working hard to manage coronavirus cases.
"This has taught us all a deeper level of teamwork than we thought was possible," Cox said.
Suzi calls the healthcare workers angels of mercy and says she has plans to tell her story.
"I want to talk to my students at school. they're very hesitant about the vaccine. I want to tell them go for it. We don't know how much time we have on this earth. If you have the chance to get the vaccine please do it. Take the chance, please do it," Suzi said.
Suzi believes plasma donated by COVID survivors saved her life. She encourages others to give blood.