For weeks on end, Kellie McCarthy fought the ventilator pushing oxygen rhythmically into her COVID-inflamed lungs with such ferocity that she was given a slew of drugs to tolerate the invasive treatment.

Muscle relaxants paralyzed her body, while sedatives and opioids calmed her agitation. But even comatose, she was tormented mentally. The reptilian hiss of the tube in her windpipe inspired nightmares of writhing black snakes. Once, she dreamed that her doctor was trying to kill her.

"Get me out of here, get me out of here!” McCarthy remembers silently pleading. "Obviously, no one’s hearing me and they can’t reach me.”