‘I felt like it was the end of me’
‘I felt like it was the end of me’
Toronto man shares COVID-19 experience
In April, Toronto-based pharmacy assistant, Jay*, 31, tested positive for COVID-19. What ensued was a harrowing ordeal that would leave him forever changed. He shares his story as a warning to anyone who underestimates the dangers of the disease.
As told to Irish Mae Silvestre
The Philippine Reporter
For me, wearing a mask is a must. Why? Because I’ve had COVID-19 and it’s hell.
It happened in April when I was working for a company where employees weren’t wearing masks and some of them tested positive. After my experience, they now wear masks and the result: no more cases.
On the first day, I had chills and a fever that went up and down from 38.6C to 39.8C. On the second day, I felt a little better, but I still had a fever and told my boss and manager that I can’t go to work. By the third day, I still had a fever, but I felt weak. My employer required me to get tested just to make sure, so I called the Toronto Public Health for assistance since I’m a front liner. They told me I didn’t need to get tested since it was only a fever.
On the fourth day, I still had a fever, I felt weak and developed a productive cough. I called again and asked if I could get tested and they agreed so I immediately went to Sunnybrook. [When I went to get tested] I didn’t expect that long cotton bud. It really hurt. It was so long I joked that they probably managed to get some of my brain fluids.
By the fifth day, the result came out: it was positive. I was terrified. I felt like this was the end of me. My cough got worse probably because I was crying so much. According to a resident doctor at Sunnybrook, COVID-19 doesn’t just affect your lungs but it can also cause a stroke.
Since five of us live in a one-bedroom condo, I wore a mask and we had the window open for ventilation. The good thing is that no one caught it from me, not even my grandmother-in-law.
My symptoms worsened on the sixth day. I felt like I had been hit by a car. The only thing the doctors told me to take was Tylenol. I just slept since I had no energy to even sit up in bed. I mostly had soup then went back to sleep. That’s all I did: sleep, eat, repeat.
My entire body hurt, especially my back near my lungs. Doctors kept calling to check on me because I have a history of tuberculosis when I was a child. I had to call 911 immediately if I had trouble breathing. They gave me an oximeter to monitor my oxygen levels – if my levels reached 92 percent, I had to go to the ER immediately.
I felt the same on the seventh day but each time I coughed it was really painful – my lungs hurt so much as did my entire body. I lost my sense of taste and developed a sensitivity to light.
The eight until the eleventh day were the worst. My chest hurt so badly each time I coughed. On the eighth day, my phlegm was green but, by the ninth and eleventh day, I was just coughing blood. I called the doctor to tell them and they said it’s normal since we still don’t truly know how this virus works. I was honestly ready to die during that time. But when I started feeling better, I felt sorry for my wife and my mother.
By the twelfth day, my fever was gone, and my entire body wasn’t in as much pain. My back no longer hurt as much whenever I coughed so I knew I was starting to recover. But my phlegm still had blood just not as bloody. It eventually turned into a dry cough that would last a month. Before I got sick, I weighed 125kgs; after COVID-19 my weight dropped to 72kgs in just two weeks.
My wife and mother cried when I recovered. The funny thing is that the last day of my quarantine period (as per the Toronto Public Health guidelines) was my birthday. I felt like I was given a second chance at life. My wife made blueberry pancakes with a candle on top so that it somehow looked like a cake.
My experience taught me not to give up even when I felt like I was on the verge of dying. I think I got sick because I have two jobs and didn’t have a day off. I learned that before I can take care of others, I need to take better care of myself first.
I’m sharing my story because I want people to know that it’s not just a flu – it can be deadly. It’s hard to distinguish if you’re asymptomatic because, of course, you don’t have symptoms. Yet, you’re a carrier. It’s like a big bomb that explodes and infects so many people and the elderly are the most vulnerable.
Yes, there’s no vaccine or drugs that can cure COVID-19 but you can wear a mask, practice social distancing, use alcohol-based sanitizers and stay home if you’re sick. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
*Full name withheld on request