Even through her troubled breathing, a Barrie woman who recently experienced a stint in the intensive care unit (ICU) after contracting COVID-19 wants to let people know the virus is real and hospitals are crowded.
Kim Webb, who is back home after a nine-day stay at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH), told BarrieToday she's tired of seeing the online comments from people who are calling the pandemic fake or questioning its severity.
“It's infuriating; it is so maddening. Having read some articles and seeing the comments from people that COVID isn’t real, or that the hospitals are empty, is just so wrong,” said Webb, 40. “I have just been in the ICU where there was someone in every single bed in there.
"I’ve been there. I’ve seen it. It's not fake," she added.
Webb tested positive for COVID-19 on April 12 and was instructed to rest at home, which she did for a few days.
“Both me and my husband got it and he had like a death cough and what felt like a really bad cold. With me, it was more like the worst flu I’ve ever had in my life,” she said.
“We’re close to the same age and health and it was crazy how differently it affected the two of us," Webb added. "I had no energy and my breathing became very bad. I was very concerned and went to hospital.”
Webb believes she contracted the virus in the community.
Webb, who was in the ICU about a week after testing positive, said when she first got to hospital, it didn't take long for her to get put into intensive care.
“They take you through emergency and fairly fast into triage while deciding what you need. In my case, they got me pretty much right to ICU,” she said.
Her breathing was not good and she was hooked up to many different machines to monitor her breathing and to test her blood, she said. Webb says she was trying to stay alert to see what was happening to her, but admitted she was exhausted and tried to mainly focus on her breathing.
“It's very busy. There's stuff going on in every spot you look,” Webb said of what she witnessed in the Barrie hospital. “Every little room in the ICU has someone in it. I was in my own little room and I could kind of see what was happening throughout the ICU.
"There were so many people rushing around doing whatever they needed to for people in there," she added.
Not only was Webb nervous about what was going to happen if her condition worsened, but seeing all that was around her made her even more worried.
“I was absolutely scared, for sure. There are people getting ventilation tubes put down their throat and I can see it from where I am,” Webb said. “At that point, you don’t know what's going to happen and I kept wondering if I was going to need a tube as well, and it was very scary to see.”
Webb heralded the work being done by nurses, doctors and other health-care workers, saying the pressure they are under wasn’t shown to patients.
“They were so busy and the ICU seems chaotic, but the staff do their best to remain professional and upbeat,” she said. “They’re dealing with so much. It's ICU so whatever is happening in there is serious, and they always seemed to be positive and cheerful... or tried to be.”
Webb was in ICU for five days and the respiratory recovery unit for four. She returned home on Friday and has oxygen to help with her breathing, which she said is still not at 100 per cent yet.
“I find with this you just don’t have the energy you had before. When you get a little winded just walking to the bathroom and wonder if you’re going to pass out, it's an issue and not something I’ve ever dealt with before,” said Webb.
Webb’s isolation ended May 2 and she is beyond the contagious point. Her first order of business is to get the vaccine, which she was close to getting when she tested positive.
“I was scheduled to get vaccinated when I got my positive diagnosis, so that was heart-breaking,” she said. “I had to cancel that appointment, but I just called this morning and I’m going this week to get it.
"I don’t ever want to go through this again and I don't want anyone else to either,” Webb added. “This was the worst experience of my life, so stick a needle in me so it doesn't happen again.”