Sigurlína Rósa Kristmundsdóttir, a mother of five who is in her forties, was infected with the swine flu A(H1N1) virus in October 2009. Her condition became critical and she was in a coma for two weeks. Meanwhile she dreamt of aliens.
The Landspítali national hospital in Reykjavík is to the left on the picture. By Dagbjört Oddný Matthíasdóttir.
“I was going to shake it off over the weekend,” Kristmundsdóttir told visir.is of her first reaction to the flu, which she didn’t think was serious. One week later her 16-year-old son refused to go to school until she sought medical help.
“I lugged myself into the bathroom but when I came out I could hardly stand up straight. I felt so weak and I was incredibly warm. I always had the door open because I thought the apartment lacked oxygen,” Kristmundsdóttir said in description of her condition.
She called her GP who wanted to see her immediately. Her friend drove her. After examining her, the GP concluded her shortness of breath was strange and sent her to the hospital. “They asked me this and that but I kept passing out.”
Kristmundsdóttir had a fever of 42°C (107°F) and then it turned out that her organs were failing. She was quickly anaesthetized and connected to various machines which kept her alive during a two-week coma.
“I dreamt of aliens during the coma,” Kristmundsdóttir said, adding that the two weeks were eventful despite her bedridden condition. “It is a very clear memory. I was on this amazing journey. I traveled the world for many months and eventually under the sea. There I fought aliens who ended up kidnapping my daughter.”
After waking up, Kristmundsdóttir was very weak. She had to relearn how to walk and couldn’t drink from a glass. She was in rehabilitation for two months.
Now, 15 months later, she still has trouble with the simplest things. She is uncertain whether she will ever fully recover, although that is her goal.
“The doctors can’t tell me anything,” Kristmundsdóttir said, encouraging people to get vaccinated for the swine flu. When asked what she learned from her illness, she replied, “It has changed my attitude towards life. I live for today.”
Kristmundsdóttir added that she is grateful for a good healthcare system. “And of course all the wonderful staff who don’t always get complimented the way they deserve.”
Click here to read more the swine flu in Iceland.