A mother from Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., is urging people to take COVID-19 — and the health measures in place — seriously, as her son fights for his life.
Myrine Kakfwi, 30, has been in an intensive care unit in an Edmonton hospital for the last three weeks.
Every day his mother Dolly Pierrot rubs lotion on her son's feet and hands, and massages his legs as he lies on his back in his hospital bed.
"We have been talking to him, telling him not to give up and telling him how many people are praying for him. His dad plays music for him and we pray with him," she said in a Facebook post.
Not just a bad flu
It was over a month ago, on Dec. 5, when Kakfwi told his mom from his home in Edmonton that he thought he had COVID-19 — he was coughing and felt he had a bad flu, Pierrot told CBC News.
"I was immediately worried and I was really concerned for him," she said.
Just a few days later, on Dec. 7 she heard from her eldest son that Kakfwi was taken by ambulance to the University of Alberta Hospital. Pierrot says that was the same day Kakfwi was diagnosed with COVID-19.
"I just wanted to know how serious it was, if he was OK," she said. "My oldest son said that Myrine was coughing up blood."
Pierrot says she was also concerned for her eldest, since he was in contact with Kakfwi and was taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton to be put in isolation. Luckily, his COVID-19 test came back negative, she said.
Pierrot says the hospital then told her that Kakfwi was admitted and being treated in isolation.
"He came in with a collapsed right lung and they said that he had ... double pneumonia," Pierrot said.
It wasn't until about a week before Christmas that Kakfwi seemed to be recovering.
"He was FaceTiming us, he was talking to us," Pierrot said. "He was really regretful that he didn't take COVID-19 seriously. He said he was just not being careful."
But as the days and hours passed, Pierrot said her son's health seemed to deteriorate again.
"He was just not making sense," she said of Kakfwi when he was speaking to the family. "And then all of a sudden, he just went offline and we couldn't get ahold of him."
They tried calling on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day but still no answer from her son.
"I kept calling U of A and nobody seemed to know where he went," Pierrot said. By Dec. 27 she was in contact with the intensive care unit and found her answer.
A doctor called Pierrot and told her Kakfwi was "seriously" ill.
"He said that he was admitted into ICU … and he had double pneumonia and he had a couple of bacteria in both lungs and he was placed on a ventilator."
'You need to come down'
She asked the doctor if she and Kakfwi's dad should travel from Fort Good Hope down to Edmonton.
The doctor said they should come immediately. Pierrot said her local MLA, Paulie Chinna, and the Yamoga Land Corporation helped her make travel arrangements. They landed in Edmonton the next morning.
When they arrived at the hospital, they were allowed to see Kakfwi right away, she said, and were given 24-hour access to him.
The doctors told them Kakfwi no longer had COVID-19, but the after effects were keeping him unwell.
Kakfwi had a CT scan on Monday, where doctors found another infection in one of his lungs. One of his lungs has also been leaking air, so a specialist is going to see if a valve can be inserted to close up the leak, she said.
"So he's been … fighting back for the last three weeks," Pierrot said, adding they're taking it day by day.
Right by his side
Pierrot said she and Kakfwi's dad have been staying at a hotel, and splitting their time between there and the hospital.
She says everyone has been rooting for a quick recovery for her son.
"The doctors told us that he's young and so they're really pushing his body hard … they're not giving up on him" Pierrot said.
And neither are his parents.
"As long as he's fighting, his dad and I are fighting right along with him, and we're not going anywhere, we're going to stay here and be with him [for] the whole thing."
Message to others
Pierrot says she is sharing her son's story in hopes that people will take COVID-19 seriously.
"It's real, it's dangerous," Pierrot said. "It spreads so quick and so easy, we just have to be so vigilant with sanitizing and wearing your mask and staying home."
She said the family has received an abundance of support through messages, phone calls and donations from the community of Fort Good Hope.
"Which is really comforting to know that people do care about each other and we feel so supported here," Pierrot said. "Just amazing how people pull together and rallied behind us... it just really helps us stay strong throughout this."