Unvaxxed mum shares horrific photo from hospital bed: 'Thought I was better'

·4-min read

An unvaxxed mum with Covid has shared a photo of herself fighting for life in hospital with the hope it will encourage others to get vaccinated.

The haunting photo shows Michelle Fluegge, 56, unconscious on a ventilator with tubes in her nose.

The school lunch lady from New Ulm, a small town in Minnesota in the US, and her husband Greg — both unvaccinated — caught Covid in late September, forcing them to miss his mother’s funeral.

She told The Daily Beast she became so ill she was barely able to get up and move around.

After a few days, the 56-year-old said she felt like she was improving.

“I thought I was getting better,” she said.

Then, on the sixth day of her infection, the diabetic mum of two’s blood-oxygen level plummeted.

Unvaxxed Michelle Fluegge, 56, laying unconscious on a ventilator with tubes in her nose.
The haunting photo shows unvaxxed Michelle Fluegge, 56, unconscious on a ventilator with tubes in her nose. Source: GoFundMe

'Thought she was going to die'

Greg found her in the bathroom and rushed her to their local hospital, where doctors told her she had pneumonia in her lungs and needed a ventilator.

It took three hours for doctors to find a ventilator at another hospital in Minneapolis, but there was also another patient, an elderly man with Covid, who needed it.

Her son Scott told the publication “they thought she was going to die”.

“There was an older gentleman that was supposed to take the helicopter up to Minneapolis for that ventilator,” Scott said.

“And my mom was younger. He said, ‘If anybody’s going to survive, it’s going to be her…don’t take me, take her’.”

Ms Fluegge was placed on the lone ventilator, but after several days her family was warned that she was probably not going to make it.

Ms Fluegge and her husband Greg.
The school lunch lady and her husband Greg — both unvaccinated — caught Covid in late September. Source: Facebook

“Her lungs were severely damaged. So we essentially said our goodbyes,” Scott told The Daily Beast.

With no visitation allowed, family members continued to chat to the mum on an iPad.

After 18 days on the ventilator, Scott said he received the best call he’s ever got.

Doctors told him his mum was going to make it and that they were going to remove the ventilator.

The 56-year-old spent the following weeks learning how to regain her voice and walk again during daily physical therapy sessions.

On November 20, she was able to return home to her family, who greeted her while wearing T-shirts with a simple, yet important message: ‘Get vaccinated’.

Covid long hauler urges people to get vaccinated

Ms Fluegge’s children say they posted the photo of her almost dying in hospital to a GoFundMe at her request.

“Mom wanted us to share this picture of her to show what it looks like to be on a ventilator,” they said.

“None of us knew what it was like beforehand and she wants the message to be heard that getting vaccinated is important not only to you as an individual, but to the loved ones around you.”

Ms Fluegge told The Daily Beast she and her husband didn’t avoid the Covid vaccine because they are antivaxxers, but hadn’t been that exposed in their small town of 10,000 people and simply didn’t see the immediate need.

“We didn’t know enough about it,” she said.

“We were scared. A lot of people in our small town just weren’t getting vaccinated and my kids were wanting us to, but they live out of state. And, I don’t know, we just weren’t secure yet. But I really wish we would’ve. I wouldn’t have had ended up how I was.”

Nurse Anila Shameti prepares a syringe with Covid vaccine. Source: AAP
Ms Fluegge said she and her husband didn’t avoid the Covid vaccine because they are anti-vaxxers. Source: AAP

She received her second vaccination in December.

Her children are now helping raise money for their mum, who is now a Covid long-hauler and is losing her hair, to cover her medical bills.

Ms Fluegge’s son says she has been told by the school district she has worked for the past 26 years that she will have used all of her allotted sick days as of January 25.

She will lose her job if she doesn’t return by the set date, however she continues to struggle to breathe if she’s standing for longer than 10 minutes.

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