By Kenyon Stronski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
As we tread through our daily lives, COVID-19 continues to be a very serious and very real threat looming in the back of most of our minds. As the fourth wave slowly declines across Canada, remembering to get vaccinated and practice safe health procedures is paramount to make sure a fifth doesn’t happen.
COVID affects everyone differently, but for Kathy Giroux, it landed her in the Lethbridge hospital.
“August 22 was when I was tested positive and I started doing my quarantine. I work at McCains so we have to be tested if we have any symptoms — it came back positive around an hour and a half later. I was fine up until around my eighth day until I woke up and couldn’t breath at seven in the morning. My daughter had also tested positive but just had allergy symptoms so she drove me to the hospital. First I was in the Taber hospital, they had to suit up to come get me and they put me on oxygen immediately because it was very low when I got there. They did X-rays and found I had developed COVID pneumonia, which is something that COVID can develop into. I was in Taber maybe only four or five hours, they had me on three litres of oxygen but by the time I was transferred to Lethbridge I was on 13 litres of oxygen. It goes fast.”
Giroux stresses that she was aware and knew what was going on the entire time. It didn’t have any affect on her memory or brain.
“I remember taking a breath of fresh air before going into the Lethbridge Hospital because I remember thinking it could of been my last. They got me in and I was on the COVID floor for about six days, and on my last day I was transferred to Cardston because the hospitals were filling up and I was the least sick on the floor. I was scared going in there. When they come in and say to you it could go either way and you could survive or die it’s very scary. I remember just wanting to make sure my kids were okay because they lost their father too. At the time I could only talk for around five minutes before I couldn’t breathe anymore so I would just save it for my kids.”
COVID can and does affect everyone differently. For some it may just feel like a mild cold, but for others it could put them in a very severe medical situation.
“I did have my days where I was good and the day before I went into the hospital my daughter brought me some food and said that I seemed perfectly fine — the next day I was in the hospital not knowing which way this was going to go. It just all happened so fast. I was vaccinated, and had a friend that had COVID at the same time that wasn’t and she was perfectly fine.”
It is very important to thank all the doctors, nurses and medical personnel that are fighting this pandemic on the front-lines. They work day-in and day-out to make sure people are safe, and to save lives.
“The nurses in the hospital were absolutely amazing — these guys and girls work so hard for everything. Even if they needed to see me for a simple thing they needed to be completely suited up. It’s hard for them, and one of them came in and said to me that it’s really amazing how happy and how nice I was to them, but they were the ones saving my life. When I was there AHS did open up so you could have one visitor as well because they proved that the PPE they were wearing does help, and honestly I thought I was dying when they allowed me to have a visitor.”
Giroux also wants to make it known that to get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated is everyones choice.
“I was vaccinated and my kids weren’t going to, and I accepted that and it was their choice. I just wanted to because I had a brand new granddaughter and I work in public places and just wanted to be safe. It is everyone’s choice and I think they need to do what they want to, but it is sad that it has to happen to people for them to realize that they need to do it. Even the doctors said they hoped the one dose I had at that time would save my life and it did. I think people just need to get the medical facts and not go off social media, get the medical facts first. I have friends that are nurses and they never pushed anything on me, but now I push it on my friends because I don’t want them to go through what I did. Even when I got out I couldn’t drive myself because I was so weak and I’m not even 100 per cent now, and I don’t know how long it’ll take for me to get back there. Even now in the cold I feel like I can’t breathe or catch my breath.”
Giroux noted that she is 47, and has no health conditions that would effect her mortality rate with COVID, however she only has one kidney as she donated the other to her father.
“I’ve seen a lot of stories of people not being vaccinated, and their husband, wife, son or daughter getting sick and not being able to see them in the ICU. Read these stories and see what it’s like, not even because of COVID. But if the hospitals are full and they have to pick and choose who to help or who to turn away, it’s a real thing. At the beginning I didn’t think it was real and wouldn’t be that bad here but it is, and people just aren’t getting that. Just be safe, and if you choose not to get vaccinated, please don’t go out and yell at people. It’s your choice to not be vaccinated, and its their to be vaccinated. There’s no easy answer until you’ve been through it. We all go through it different and you do not know if you’re that person that’ll go downhill or if you’ll be okay.”
In response to a media inquiry posed at the Nov. 2 regular meeting of council. Taber Mayor Andrew Prokop stated, “Council does not have all the answers as to why the vaccine rates are so low, and there are many variables. At this time, council has not had or have planned any discussions, but if council so chooses to do so in the future, we have that ability.”