Maria Epifani poses for a picture in her Rio Rancho Home. Five months ago, Epifani could not even stand due to COVID. Photo by Daniel Zuniga.

Rio Rancho resident Maria Epifani had a months-long battle with COVID-19 in 2021, and while she is still not feeling 100 percent, she is thankful to be alive.

In August 2021, Epifani contracted COVID-19. At the time, she was not vaccinated.

It started with a fever of 101 degrees that climbed up to 104 degrees. At that time, Epifani decided it was time to go to the hospital, which was a rare occurrence for her.

“Obviously, I have been sick, but it has never been like this,” said Epifani.

Epifani was in and out of hospitals for months. She lost hair, had trouble breathing and had to be put on oxygen.

“After a month, I was getting worse,” said Epifani. “I started taking antibiotics, and the pain started spreading throughout my whole body.”

She developed COVID pneumonia, which had spread to both her lungs. The doctors warned her family that she could take a turn for the worse at any moment.

“My body felt like it was on fire, my daughter had to help me move, and it was very painful every time she moved me,” said Epifani.

The whole experience was a roller-coaster ride of good and bad days. According to Epifani, it took her three months to beat COVID-19.

“The only thing you can do is take it a day at a time, and keep going,” said Epifani.

When the worst was over, she began the road to recovery. Epifani used oxygen at home for an additional three months.

Her muscles were so weak that she had to start physical therapy. It took eight months for her to have the strength to return to work.

However, through it all, she is grateful to be alive and around her family, and for food:

“I lost my taste, I lost my smell, my body hurt but I did not lose my appetite,” said Epifani. “Food was the only thing that kept me going. That’s how I beat COVID, “ she jokingly added.