“I’ve always been kind of silly and goofy,” Carrie MacKay said from her room in the Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
Humour is the best medicine, even the Mayo Clinic says so.
So when Carrie MacKay of Langley was admitted to hospital, deep in the throes of a COVID-19 infection, she began documenting her plight on Facebook. It’s funny stuff, like wearing commode inserts as cowgirl hats, but be forewarned, she pulls no punches in describing, well, everything.
“I’ve always been kind of silly and goofy,” she said from her room in the Abbotsford Regional Hospital, where she’s been a COVID-19 patient since Jan. 31.
She misses her dog Fender tremendously, but MacKay did find a new friend she bonded with instantly. The friendship is clearly evident as the two banter back-and-forth with a reporter, but the way they met they don’t wish on anyone else.
MacKay and Abbotsford’s Anne Klei were moved to a general room, although still on the COVID-19 floor, on Wednesday night, when they were able to hug each other for the first time after lying next to each other for 11 days.
“We’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together,” Klei said. “We gagged and choked together. I love her so much, I don’t know what I would have done without her.”
The women felt fantastic on Thursday, a remarkable improvement from how they felt when the week began. They could be discharged by the weekend.
But besides trying to make the best of things humour-wise, they have a message: Treat this virus seriously, folks, it’s not like catching influenza.
What were the worst parts?
“How much time do you have?” MacKay asked. “Obviously, not being able to breathe, gasping for air, choking, coughing, all of the flu symptoms.”
She described being unable to move as well as being unable to breathe because of being intubated, having a catheter, throwing up, delirious from fever, hooked up to intravenous, uncontrollable coughing fits. Eating just a tiny bit of food, trying to chew it with a tube shoved down her throat, could take two or three hours.
“This is real, I want to get that message out,” MacKay said. “It’s real and it’s bad. Really, really bad. You can’t sleep with all the snakes of wires and tubes, it’s so uncomfortable. You lay there wide awake night after night and wonder if you’re going to die.”
Both women had followed protocols. MacKay, 46, doesn’t know how she caught COVID-19; Klei, 52, caught it from a friend whose partner had it but kept going out anyway.
The two stood and moved around with walkers on Wednesday, under the careful eye of a physiotherapist, for the first time since entering the hospital. They were able to shower for the first time this month on Thursday. They had cups of coffee, just some of the many reminders of how much we take for granted.
MacKay has no idea how long before she’ll be able to resume her job as a window-painter (think of the Christmas, Valentine’s and St. Patrick’s Day murals you see on office buildings and automobile showrooms).
Three months? Six? A year before she can work again without getting winded?
She also has a graphics business so at least she’ll be able to resume that, sitting at a desk in front of a computer.
But mostly she wants to be reunited with her four-legged best friend.
“I am beyond-words excited to see Fender again,” MacKay said. “I can’t go bike-riding or go kayaking with him, but we are together 24/7 and I miss him terribly. He is going to knock me down and lick me all over.”