“Beautiful torture:” the return of Doctor Cecilio Eck after his brush with death linked to COVID

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Posted: Friday, May 27, 2022. 10:02 a.m. CST.

By Aaron Humes: Joining the Department of Health’s Dr Natalia Largaespada Beer this morning for the launch of her campaign to vaccinate children aged 5 to 11 was someone many didn’t expect to get this far – if at all.

Pediatrician Doctor Cecilio Eck was confined to a wheelchair after contracting COVID-19 and now moves around with a pair of crutches.

But he was eloquent and humble in describing his journey home from near-death and therapy – and relentless in his declaration that vaccinations and careful living will spare Belizeans the worst effects of the virus.

Dr Eck observed: “A good friend of mine calls me Lazarus Squared because I’ve been intubated twice, I’ve had bleeding inside and I had to do surgery and I spent a month in the hospital… But going home after a month was not the end; it was the beginning of the therapy and I still applaud my beautiful torturer, I call her; Miss Trejo, my physical therapist. She was there when I was extubated, she was there when I was intubated, and she was there throughout my progress and recovery.

Dr Eck explained that in his case the “unpredictable” virus attacked his nerves and left him unable to move. After a few weeks of home care, it took him a while to get into a sitting position and then, in what he described as “one of the cruel ironies”, “I had to relearn how to walk like a baby. So [sitting] standing, then standing, during this time I was in a wheelchair at home, so I had to remodel my house with ramps. So from the wheelchair to the walker to my crutches now. Pool therapy works. I was in the pool every day. Miss Trejo comes with me and tortures me in a beautiful way. On his hospital bed, he was to be administered the Prayer for the Dying (in the Catholic tradition, also known as the Last Rites).

Dr. Eck took the time to applaud the entire team that cared for him, led by Dr. Pedro Arriaga; his wife and children.

And if there’s a lesson to be learned, he says, his experience has taught him that COVID-19 is very real: “It teaches me what an intensive care patient goes through and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.” So if anyone were to ask me about vaccines, I’d be right behind promoting Doctor Beer, please get your kids vaccinated, please get yourselves vaccinated, it is not an invented disease. I’m living proof that you can get over it, but it’s very expensive and really debilitating if you’re lucky like me.

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