My Covid Experience

Written On: 03/04/2021

This is me, 15 weeks after my Covid diagnosis…but let’s start from the beginning.

On Thursday, November 12th, at approximately 2:00am, my husband received a text from Alberta Health Services, informing him that he had tested positive for Covid-19. If I’m being honest, it freaked me out, and I know that it scared my husband. What did we do now? First thing we did was book testing appointments for Sam and I, as we were close contacts. We then notified any other people we were around in the past few days, and they also arranged to be tested. Immediate family thankfully tested negative.

Once we received the diagnosis, we got Mike set up in one of the basement bedrooms, where he could isolate from the rest of the household. It was a perfect set up, because he had his own room, his own bathroom (well, he had to share it with the kitties), and he could still work in his area. I delivered his meals to the basement while masked, and always while he was in a separate area, to have as little contact as possible.

Mike’s symptoms were mild. He had a sore throat, and struggled to speak because of it, but didn’t have high fevers. He was doing well, and it seemed like Sam and I were going to dodge a bullet, because neither of us were feeling ill. Sam and I went for our appointments at 10:00am the same morning Mike got his results.

Saturday morning, on November 14, I looked at Sam’s results online…negative. Happy dance! Mine were still not showing up. The wait was agonizing, but I finally received my results that evening…positive. Devastation. It was absolutely gut wrenching. How were we going to manage the household when both adults were positive, but our child was negative?

Thankfully, we rent a large home. Mike remained in the basement, while I stayed upstairs in the main bedroom, which has its own bathroom. I shared the shower in the basement bathroom so that Sam could have his own bathroom upstairs. Neither Mike nor I went into that bathroom. I still cooked meals, but did so wearing a mask, which I did whenever I needed to be in the common areas of the house. When Sam and I were in the same room, we both wore masks, and kept our distance from each other. There were no hugs, no kisses, and no entering each other’s “bubble”. It was very difficult for our son, as he is a very affectionate child.

Mike’s condition stabilized quite early. He never got very ill, but was exhausted all the time. He slept for an 11 hour stretch at one point, which is very odd for him. He napped frequently, had a rough cough, but never experienced extreme symptoms. To him, it was just a really bad cold/flu. My condition on the other hand, was not the same.

By the time I received my results on the 14th, I had already started showing symptoms. The night before, I vomited so violently that I broke blood vessels in and around my eyes. I had the worst chills I’d ever experienced, and just couldn’t get warm. My breathing had gotten more difficult, which was alarming because I have asthma. That was why I was so afraid of catching Covid. I was concerned that my already weakened lungs would not be able to handle the virus. I had developed a cough, and I was taking my steroid inhaler as a preventative measure.

Mike and I decided from the beginning that we wanted to be very vocal about our journey. We didn’t want to hide the fact that we had the virus, because we needed people to know that anyone could catch it. We were extremely vigilant. We followed the rules. We masked before they were mandatory, followed AHS recommendations, etc. If we could catch it, so could anyone else.

My thoughts were that I was going to update my followers on all my platforms daily, letting them know how I was feeling, what new symptoms I was experiencing, etc. I felt that it would be a great way to put a face to this awful virus, and possibly help other people in the same condition.

By November 15th, I was noticeably more ill. My sinuses were full, my chest was tight, and I was struggling with my breathing to the extent that I had to pause in between sentences. Mike was still doing well, even feeling slightly better. I had developed a fever, which I was attempting to control with tylenol and popsicles.

By that evening, I was feeling like I had been run over by a truck. My eyes were aching so badly, that it was difficult to even look side to side. My sinuses felt like they were on fire, particularly the nostril that they did the Covid test through. I couldn’t stop sneezing! This was also when my taste and smell went…nothing tasted right. My whole body was exhausted.

By the evening of November 15th, just one day since diagnosis, I went to emergency for the first time. My breathing had gotten noticeably worse, so I called 811, which is our provincial HealthLink line. The nurse I spoke with had me take my pulse, and was concerned that it was only 24 beats. She recommended that I go to emergency just in case, since I had asthma. She said that at this level, with Covid, people could go downhill very quickly. So off I went! Thankfully I was well enough to drive myself, as the hospital is less than a 5 minute drive from our house. I was checked over really well, and even had an xray done on my lungs, which showed that they were clear. I ended up coming home with numerous inhalers, including 2 steroid ones, as well as some oral steroids.

By Tuesday, November 17, I was still struggling with my breathing. It felt like I was having to try so hard to catch a full breath, even though I was taking all of the inhalers that the Doctor had prescribed me. My fever was up to 39.9, and no amount of popsicles and tylenol was bringing it down. I was still caring for my son, and cooking for everyone, but really struggling to do that. I had friends drop off care packages, and family do my shopping. I even had members of my gluten free Facebook page offering to cook meals and bring them by. The support was wonderful, but I was feeling so awful that I found it difficult to express how much everything meant to me. I started losing Instagram followers at this point, which was odd. I believe they were likely people who signed up for pretty posts about food, and didn’t want to stay for the real life stuff.

Sam had started with some cold symptoms by that point also, so we booked him another test on November 20th. Mike’s isolation would officially be over at that point, but because he would be the one taking Sam for his test, he would then be considered a close contact of Sam’s, and effectively put himself back into isolation.

On the evening of November 17th, I once again found myself in emergency with trouble breathing.

I was back in at 7:45pm, with a 39.9 Celsius fever, and was struggling to breathe. Over the course of the evening, I had my blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and temperature taken. I was then given an ECG, bacterial and viral blood work, as well as having numerous checks done on my vitals, and lungs. I had to have an IV inserted, because I was extremely dehydrated. They tried putting it in my arm once, and three tries in my hand, but they gave up and used my foot in the end. While waiting for an isolation room, I was having massive spasms that began in my back, radiated through my stomach, up my spine, and then back down through my hips. It was the worst pain I had ever experienced. Once in my room, I was given pain killers that thankfully took the bulk of the pain away. I had driven myself to the hospital again, so I needed to be able to drive home safely, so I asked for lower doses, and was given a prescription to take home with me, which was filled and delivered to us at home the next day by our pharmacy. Once again, I was given inhalers, even though I had the same ones at home. These were given at no cost to me, which made me thankful to have the health care we do here. I was told I was experiencing Covid-related asthma, and was severely dehydrated, which is what was causing the spasms. Armed with this info, and a new regimen for inhalers, I went home.

I woke up with a broken fever on November 19th, which did my mental health some good. It lifted my spirits thinking that maybe, just maybe, the worst was over, and I would start getting better now. I still felt awful, and my breathing was still difficult, but I had that hope.

And then I ended up back in emergency, in the middle of the night, because my lips had started to turn blue around the edges, as did my nail beds. I knew this was a sign of cyanosis, and didn’t want to take any chances. I woke Mike to tell him I was heading back to the hospital, and drove myself in.

Once I was in hospital, they did another xray, which showed a buildup of fluid in my lungs. My oxygen levels were scary low, so I was placed on oxygen as well. I was given Tamiflu and antibiotics, and was told that they would be admitting me for a few days in the Stony Plain hospital. I figured it wasn’t so bad, because I was only 5 minutes from home, which was comforting.

After I wrote that last instagram story update on the morning of the 20th, things changed quickly. My condition began to deteriorate more, and I was told that I would need to be transferred to the Royal Alex hospital in Edmonton, and put on the Covid ward. It was scary to hear that…I was going to be away from my family, alone, and surrounded by a bunch of other sick people. I dislike hospitals. I’ve never liked them. I have spent far too much time in hospital myself, and too much time visiting my mother in them. So the prospect of being transferred bothered me psychologically, but I knew that I was being sent where I could be better cared for. I was told that they had arranged a bed for me in the ward already, so I just needed to wait for the ambulance to come to get me.

I had the best EMTs, seriously. Both of them were kind, and funny, and the one who rode with me in the back had a wife that was either Celiac, or had NCGS, so we got to talk about gluten free stuff. It was very comforting! Once we reached the hospital, we went up to the 3rd floor, and were denied entrance. We were told that all requisitions for a bed had to come through emergency. My EMTs fought for me! Eventually, they did have to bring me back through the hospital to emergency to get the paperwork done, but they were with me the whole time, and I eventually received a bed in the Covid ward.

Things start to get a little fuzzy here, because the lack of oxygen, plus the high fevers, had begun to affect my brain. I do remember that when I went in, I had a female roommate. I still had my foot IV at this point, and I remember that it kept getting knocked around. I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink at this point, and remember being so thirsty. I was able to sleep fitfully for a couple hours, in between poking and prodding by doctors and nurses.

On the 21st, I was told that I would be going to the ICU. My breathing was getting worse, and my oxygen levels were dropping to the point that I may need more than just regular oxygen. I remember being told that, but I don’t remember actually going to the ICU. While there, I recall having to hold a tube to my mouth and breathe normally. This became more and more difficult, I began to feel like I was in a state of panic, and eventually it wasn’t enough. I remember a kind voice telling me that I would likely need a breathing tube, and it freaked me out. I could feel the gentle pressure of someone holding my hand, and hear words of comfort. I had my phone in my hand, and the doctor suggested I call my family to tell them I would have to be intubated, but the call never happened. At that point, I believe I lost consciousness, and was intubated. Mike received a call from the doctor, informing him what happened. A week later, Dr. Darren Markland made the below tweets:

Dr. Markland never identified us in his thread, but he did contact Mike through Twitter after Mike commented on his tweet, thanking him for the care he had given me. We’ve been extremely lucky through all of this to have the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals we’ve had looking after us.

During my stint in ICU, Mike kept everyone updated on how I was doing. He even commented in my kitchen page to let my followers know that he had made his Facebook posts public, so that they could follow along with how I was doing. It was really appreciated by my followers, and I’m so thankful he did that.

I’ve had to rely on Mike and his Facebook posts for a lot of information, as I wasn’t conscious while I was intubated. I will post screengrabs below, so you can see a day-to-day progression:

At this point, friends and family had started dropping gift baskets, home cooked meals, and gift cards on our doorstep, wanting to do anything they could to help. Mike was thrust into single-parenthood, sole caregiver, cook, etc., and to have the amount of support he got was overwhelming, but so appreciated. While he was visiting me in the hospital, Sam stayed with Mike’s Mom and Stepdad.

While I was intubated, a lot of things were happening with my body. Kidneys were an issue at one point, and for some reason they all thought I was diabetic, and were giving me insulin once or twice daily. Covid threw my sugars out of whack in a big way. I was also kept on antibiotics longer than Mike knew, as they were worried about a resurgence of the Covid Pneumonia. A PICC line was inserted into my neck so they could administer anything my body needed while I was intubated. The IV in my foot was removed during this time. My vitamin and mineral levels were all over the place, and I was being tube fed. I remember being lucid at one point, and I think Mike was there. I remember there being someone beside me, and I also remember being told to look at the whiteboard on the wall. I recognized Mike’s writing, and there were some cute things written like how much the cats and Sam missed me.

There seemed to be a theme in a lot of his posts…I was fighting every step of the way. At some point they decided that I needed to be tied down, as I was fighting sedation pretty hard, and reacting badly to the drugs I was given. I wasn’t handling the tube feeding well either, and pulling the line out regularly.

Covid regulations were beginning to change at this point, as the numbers in Alberta were raising at an alarming rate. Hospitals were becoming more stringent on visitors, and this would eventually affect Mike’s ability to see me.

Then came the day that Mike saw the tweets from Dr. Markland.

Mike talks about how I was delirious…and I can say that I agree. During my intubation, I had some really messed up hallucinations. Please note that if this type of thing is triggering to you, I suggest you scroll down to the next paragraph, and skip this section. Firstly, I have never been to or seen a Sweetgrass ceremony, but my brain was telling me that I was watching one. I mean no disrespect to the Indigenous culture or their peoples, and am only describing what my brain thought it was seeing. I was watching an Indigenous nurse walk back and forth in a room full of smoke, breaking reeds, and crushing stones. It was ongoing for what felt like hours. I could smell the smoke, and taste the dirt from the crushed stones. My brain told me that I was seeing a ritual that was done as a sign of respect for someone who had passed away. Another hallucination I experienced was what I thought was a Maori Haka ceremony, but because we were in isolation, it had to be done over an iPad for the person. I could hear the Haka through the speaker, and feel the anguish of the family members speaking to their loved one. I also felt the presence of someone behind me constantly. When I looked to the side, I saw what I believed to be a tattooed, severed arm. It didn’t frighten me, but it was odd. And lastly, I could have sworn that the nurse who cared for me looked identical to River Swan from the Doctor Who series. Now that was interesting! It was all a very strange experience, but I never felt frightened or scared. I felt very much at peace, even though I was obviously hallucinating.

Thankfully I received physio therapy during my intubation time, or I am sure that I would not have come out of the hospital in as good of shape as I did. It’s amazing what that type of situation does to the body.

Mike visited me daily for the whole time I was in ICU, until December 2, which was the last day he was able to visit because of increasing Covid restrictions. I was still out of mind on the medications they needed to have me on.

On December 3rd, I was extubated! Not only did Mike receive a call from the hospital, but he also received a private message on Twitter from Dr. Markland, telling him how relieved and excited he was about it. His words were “She got extubated!!! Squeeee!” Having that personal touch from my doctors really helped Mike get through some days, so I can’t thank Dr. Markland enough.

For those of you who don’t know my husband, I will give you some background. Mike has been a part of the music community for most of his life, and if it has to do with music/sound/recording, he’s likely done it. He also has an amazing group of friends. So many of them got together to record a beautiful version of Happy Xmas (War is Over). Please click below to see Mike’s December 4th update, along with a performance from some of Edmonton’s best musicians.

On December 4th, I was moved out of ICU, and back to the Covid ward. At this point, I still had my PICC line in, was still being given IV antibiotics, daily insulin shots, and also Heparin injections as blood clots wth Covid are very common. I was not allowed to have anything to eat or drink, and was still on a feeding tube. Well, we know by now how perceptive I was to feeding tubes. Needless to say, the attending Doctor was less than pleased with the fact that I kept removing the tube (I don’t remember actually doing it), and a new one was never inserted. During this time, I was also given an endoscopy because of abdominal bloating. This brought to light a new condition that I apparently suffer from, called Ogilvie Syndrome. This is something I will work with my family doctor to keep on top of. I am happy to report that my villi look fantastic though!

Things got weird in the hospital for a couple days, because of all the new protocols and such.

At this point, I was aware, but kind of in and out. I wish I could describe the experience better, but it was like waking up after really vivid dreams. By the evening of December 6th, I was starting to feel more like myself. I was very shaky, and extremely weak. I was also not able to eat or drink yet, and was only allowed ice chips…but those ice chips were so good! My brain was not working in the same capacity, which was likely because of the high fevers and sedation drugs I was given, but we were expecting that. My coordination was really off, and my right arm was largely useless. I couldn’t hold my phone in my hand, or even figure out how to get it working again. There had been some sort of issue with it while I was in the ICU, and it needed to be completely reset again, remotely. Thankfully, Mike figured that out for me eventually.

On December 6th, I got the chance to talk to Mike and Sam for the first time in about 15 days. The nurse set me up with one of the ipads that the unit has on hand for patients to be able to facetime with their family members. Thank goodness for technology! I imagine I didn’t make a lot of sense, and I know how difficult it was for me to even make full sentences, but it sure was good to see those faces. I was able to come off the oxygen that morning, which was wonderful, but I was left with a very raspy voice because of the tube.

The next day, December 7th, I was bound and determined to get the hell out of the hospital. I’ve never been a patient person, and I had had enough of sitting around, not being able to eat or drink, and not being able to be around the people I loved the most. Even though I’d only been awake for a few days, I was determined to get home as soon as possible.

On December 8th. I was seen by the Physical Therapy team, who brought a walker to me, to see whether I was capable of any mobility. I only managed to make it to the door of my room before having to turn around and go back to the chair to sit down. I didn’t feel overly weak at that time, but it had been a long time since I’d had anything to eat, so it just really took a lot out of me. They left me the walker, and I was able to get around my room a little easier with it. Having that extra mobility really perked me up, and helped me gain some strength in my legs. Now if they would just remove the catheter so I could pee on my own, that would be lovely. Thankfully, that happened later that day also.

Later in the day, I was taken to test my ability to eat/drink. Sometimes, when a person is intubated, damage is caused that stops a person from eating and drinking properly. When they swallow, the food can go into the wrong tube, and get aspirated into the lungs. So, I chewed some food for them, and they watched it go down my throat, to make sure that I was able to eat a regular diet again. Thankfully, all was well, and I was put on a regular diet. That night, I was given some wild rice, salmon, and veggies. All gluten free too! That’s one thing I have to say about the hospital. Their gluten free selection was quite good, and I never had any mix-ups with the two meals I ate while there.

As much as I wanted to come home on December 8th, it just didn’t happen. They wanted to make sure that I was progressing well, and they were concerned that I wasn’t capable of caring enough for myself at that point. Being me, I argued with them of course, and explained that everything I needed was on the top floor of my house, and once I got up those 7 steps, I wouldn’t have to come down them again until I was ready. I had family at home that would help me by making meals, and helping me shower. I had experience with homecare because of the time my Mom had to use it, so I knew where to go if needed. They still wanted to keep me, and so I tried to be patient.

Roll on December 9th, and I was done! Again, most of the doctors and nurses suggested that I wasn’t ready to go home because I was unable to make it to the door with my walker the previous day…so I showed them different. I walked back and forth from the door to my bed numerous times, and explained that since I was able to have something to eat, I had gained a lot of strength. So, I determined that I had enough supports in place at home, that I was ready to be discharged. After weighing the pros and cons of staying in the hospital versus going home, I signed myself out of hospital. I had my PICC line removed finally, gave myself a little sponge bath, and impatiently waited for Mike to come pick me up. I was wheeled down to the van by a wonderful nurse, and deposited into the arms of my very grateful husband and son.

I can tell you that tears were shed…so many tears. I was left with a scar on my cheek from the ventilator straps that may never go away, and scars on my neck from the PICC line (looks like I got bit by a vampire), but I was going home. HOME. I survived an ordeal that has killed others…I’m left with something close to survivor’s guilt. Why me? Why did I make it, and so many others didn’t? Upon speaking about my experience with other medical professionals, I’m shocked by how many of them are surprised I made it out the back door of ICU after intubation from Covid. I believe it was pure stubbornness and determination that got me through. The thought of coming home to my husband and son brought me through the worst experience of my life.

Once I was home, I improved quickly. We stopped and got me a walker, which I only used for a few days before Mike returned it, as I just didn’t need it. My mother in law brought over a shower stool, which I was thankful for. Again though, I only used it for a few days before I was no longer in need of it. I truly believe that being home was the best medicine for me. I was able to dive into the many goodies that had been sent to us from so many wonderful people. I received so much love from the gluten free community that I was overwhelmed. Some of my favourite brands sent me care packages, which was unexpected but so appreciated. So many messages were received from people who were following my story through Mike’s Facebook page. I just found more the other day that I hadn’t seen yet, or maybe I had forgotten they were there. The first few weeks of being home were very fuzzy.

When I returned home, I started looking through Twitter, because I wanted to send a thank you to Dr. Markland for being so involved, and caring. One of the comments on his tweets asked how I was doing, if I made it. On November 29th, he said he didn’t know, because it was too soon to tell. So, I answered him on December 9th:

It was wonderful to be able to spread some joy. I hadn’t realized how many people were following our story until then. Crazy amounts of people from across the world were invested in the situation! I had news stations asking for interviews, and just wasn’t in any shape to do them at that point. I was too busy just trying to get back to doing day to day activities, like being able to use a fork with my dominant hand.

On December 21st, I agreed to do a Zoom interview with Sarah Komadina from Global News, about my experience. You can watch the embedded video below, in the article written by Heide Pearson. You’ll also get to hear Dr. Markland speak about it.

Recovery from Covid is a bitch. I can’t describe it any other way. It is an ongoing process, and I expect it to affect me for months to come. My right arm is almost back to normal movement, but I still have strength issues. My legs are still weak some days, but I can do stairs fairly well. I won’t be running any marathons anytime soon. My throat still has issues, but I’ve since had an xray done to confirm no damage, and my lungs are clear. I have been left with some lasting vitamin and mineral deficiencies, but those are being looked after. I have recently begun losing large amounts of hair, so I’m dealing with that as well…and I think that is the hardest part, honestly. I know, it’s just hair, but it’s amazing how much a person’s appearance really becomes a part of them.

Through it all, I’ve learned to be grateful for the time I have on this earth. Little things don’t bother me like they used to. I’m more patient (well…depends on the day), and I find joy in little things. I’ve had people ask me if I think I’m back to normal…no. No, I don’t think I’m back to how I was before Covid. I think that I have found a new normal though, and I’m ok with that. Things will never be the same. I mean, how could they? We went through an extremely traumatic event, and we are in the middle of a global pandemic as I write this. How could things go back to how they were before? Largely, I think my brain has healed. My body is in the process of healing. Honestly, I can’t ask for much better than that. I continue to have daily struggles, but I find a way to get around them. My husband and I work as a team to get things done. And we have an amazing support system that surrounds us.

So that’s my story. Pretty sure I’ve skipped out on some stuff, and will remember it later, but this is the bulk of my story. I hope that you’re informed, and I hope that you’ll share it with people who don’t think Covid is real, or don’t think it can happen to them. This pandemic isn’t over yet. There is more to come. Stay diligent, stay safe, wash your hands, wear your mask, and stay physically distant.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Samantha Clark says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your harrowing story.

    As a friend of Mike’s, I followed your story/his posts very closely and kept you all in my prayers. I was so happy to find out you were coming off the ventilator and extremely ecstatic to hear that you were finally going home.

    Many of my family members in Norway tested positive as well and thankfully none succumbed to the virus. Ambulances called but no hospitalisations and all have since recovered.

    I hope your story helps others see the seriousness of this virus. Thank you again for sharing. Much love to you, Mike and Sam.


    1. Hi Samantha! Thank you so much for your kind words, and for thinking of us during what was a pretty horrible time. I’m happy to hear that your family all survived, and have no lasting effects. It’s definitely an awful virus, and more people need to see how awful it really can be. ❀️


  2. Kate says:

    Thank you, Michelle, for taking the time to share your journey through Covid hell with us. I am so glad you came through as quickly as you did and I’m sure a lot is due to the fact you are such a fighter. Hopefully this craziness will be over soon and we can all get on with living. In the meantime, I am going to share your story with someone I know in Manitoba who believes this is all a hoax and part of a world domination takeover plot. Maybe, hopefully, it will help change her mind. In the meantime, you take care and God bless!


    1. I hope my story helps people realize it can happen to anyone. ❀️


  3. Thank you for sharing. I am so glad you made it through.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.