A B.C. woman is speaking out about her COVID-19 experience, in the hopes of putting a face to a virus that has often been lost in daily statistical updates.
“Every day we get the numbers, you know 100 cases, but nobody knows the face to the disease,” Cathy Gibbs told Global News by video from her bed at Surrey Memorial Hospital, Saturday.
“I just thought … this puts a face to it, makes it real.”
Gibbs, 72, thought she had taken all of the precautions and had kept her social bubble to just six people, including her next door neighbours.
But even in a bubble that small, transmission can happen. Gibbs recently dined with her neighbour and her fiance, only to learn later that the woman had been exposed to the virus elsewhere.
A test then revealed Gibbs had contracted the coronavirus too.
“My message is that if you feel the slightest bit off, do not go to your bubble. Stay right away,” she said.
“Because that’s what happened with me. My neighbour felt off, didn’t realize. Never even dreamed that she was exposed to COVID, and sure enough, here we are.”
Over the following days, Gibbs developed a severe, dry cough, lost her sense of taste and developed intense nausea.
Isolated in her apartment, Gibbs relied on daily check-ins from public health and her daughter Tammy who lives in Edmonton.
But remote monitoring failed to detect the seriousness of Gibbs’ condition, according to Tammy, who says her mother was beginning to hallucinate and was in no state to be acting as a nurse for herself.
“They’ve spoken about COVID brain, how it affects your mental state, your capabilities, so I knowing her, I (was) noticing she’s starting to slip, things don’t add up right,” she said.
Tammy’s concerns eventually escalated to the point where called for help. Not knowing how to get through to B.C. authorities, she called 911 in Edmonton.
“They were excellent,” she said, explaining that the 911 operator took the call, and was able to eventually patch it through to her counterparts in British Columbia.
“I stayed on the line and they dispatched me through,” she said.
Gibbs was taken by ambulance to hospital in Langley, then transferred to the intensive care unit at Surrey Memorial.
She’s since left the ICU, but remains isolated and on oxygen and has a message for other British Columbians who may feel like the pandemic is over.
“To the young people particularly, you know, you’re young, you want to get on with your life, you want to live your life, I get that,” she said.
“(But) just because I’m old doesn’t mean I want to die. Do you get that?”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.