Rachele Llamas

Experiencing progressively worsening shortness of breath, Rachele Llamas realized something was seriously wrong. Rachele went to the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with COVID pneumonia. Thus began Rachele’s long and arduous journey back to better.

Because of her pneumonia, Rachele required percutaneous trach placement with ventilator support and a prolonged ICU stay. After spending over a month in the ICU, Rachele finally stabilized enough to transfer to Vibra Hospital of Sacramento for ongoing ventilator management and physical recovery.

Upon arrival at Vibra, Rachele immediately began receiving extensive treatment from multiple disciplines, each focused on improving her overall health and function. Initially, Rachele was only able to mouth words to the staff. She also required an artificial feeding tube for nutrition and hydration. Collaboration between disciplines proved critical, as speech and respiratory therapies worked in tandem using an inline speaking valve to restore Rachele’s ability to speak, cough, and swallow.

After months of being unable to eat, all Rachele wanted was a strawberry spinach salad from Panera. Thanks to the diligent assistance of both respiratory and speech therapy, Rachele begin eating those elusive strawberry salads while still on mechanical ventilation. Using an inline Passy Muir Valve was a key component of this change.

Severely deconditioned and dependent on a ventilator for breathing, Rachele stared down the long road ahead, determined to work hard and move forward. Rachele continued to train indefatigably with physical and occupational therapies throughout her stay. By the end of her stay, Rachele persevered and could walk the halls with the assistance of a walker. Finally, after nearly a year of extensive treatment and therapy, Rachele was, at long last, liberated from the ventilator.

Rachele returned home triumphant on Christmas Day, thanks to her Vibra team and her desire to overcome all barriers. Once again, Rachele was able to celebrate with her family. Her breathing now requires only the assistance of a simple nasal cannula. She also relished her reclaimed ability to walk with her new walker. Rachele is a true warrior and continues to thrive in the hard-won comfort of her home surrounded by family and friends. We will never forget the pleasure and privilege it was to guide her on her healthcare journey.