Saskatchewan

Regina entertainer recounts 'nightmare' ICU experience with COVID to show it can happen to anyone

Rey Capariño was in hospital for three weeks, two of them sedated in the ICU.

Rey Capariño was in hospital for 3 weeks, 2 of them sedated in the ICU

Rey Capariño was in the ICU intubated and sedated for two weeks after contracting COVID-19. (Submitted by Rey Capariño)

When Regina entertainer Rey Capariño woke up from his sedative-induced coma in the ICU, he asked the doctors why they were doing this to him. In the moment, he had forgotten his battle with COVID-19. 

"I feel like I am dead. That is really the feeling," Capariño said. "I can hear voices, I see lights. Lights as if I am in my own burial. It's really that morbid."

The entertainer was in a coma for two weeks so his body could recover from COVID-19. It's going to be a long path forward.

Capariño said he most likely contracted COVID-19 from his husband's gym. Capariño's husband tested positive first. 

"Mine got worse than his," he said. "I started coughing and then I cannot breathe anymore, and so I told him to call 911, so they immediately brought me to the ICU."

In a screenshot from a video call, Rey Capariño's husband speaks to him while Capariño was intubated in the Regina ICU. (Submitted by Rey Capariño)

The two were separated for the first time, as Capariño had never been hospitalized before, and his husband couldn't visit. Capariño had pneumonia along with COVID-19 and had to be intubated. He was told he'd be put into a coma for six weeks. 

"It was really so devastating," Caprino said. "Before I got sedated, I told the doctor, 'Bring me home safely, please. Because my husband is waiting for me.' Then after that, I fell asleep."

Two weeks later, Capariño was woken up by a doctor who was suctioning his lungs. 

"When I woke up, immediately woke up, I yelled at the doctor and others, why are you doing this to me? Because I don't know. Like, I forgot everything already," he said. "The ordeal, the COVID that I went through, is just really a nightmare." 

Rey Capariño (right) and his husband are now recovering at home after Capariño's ICU experience. (Submitted by Rey Capariño)

Capariño was observed in the ICU for two days before being moved to make space for another patient. He remained in hospital for a week before being sent home. Capariño said he's still having memory lapses, but it's comfortable to be at home. 

"This can also happen to the children who will go to school, to those who are going to offices, to those who are delivering meals, to everybody. Any walks of life," he said. "I wouldn't want to wish this to happen to anybody."

Rey Capariño and his husband show off their wedding rings. The two are now recovering at home from COVID-19. (Submitted by Rey Capariño)

Capariño said the health-care workers helping him went above and beyond what was asked of them. 

"People don't know what the virus is like until they experience 'the nightmare,'" Capariño said.

He said people should be careful of their decisions and keep safe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heidi Atter

AP/Journalist

Heidi Atter is a journalist working in Regina. She started with CBC Saskatchewan after a successful internship and has a passion for character-driven stories. Heidi has worked as a reporter, web writer, associate producer and show director so far, and has worked in Edmonton, at the Wainwright military base, and in Adazi, Latvia. Story ideas? Email heidi.atter@cbc.ca.

now