More than half a year after being hospitalized with COVID-19, Marion Traverse still has trouble climbing stairs, but she found the strength to go public with her harrowing story after hearing people say they don't plan to get vaccinated.
"I was listening to open line [on VOCM radio] and there was a lady on saying she wasn't going to get the vaccine and I said 'OK, I'm done and I'm going to tell my story of how sick I was and how I'm still recovering.' I have lung damage. I'm not back to my everyday life yet. I don't know if I'll ever get back to it," she said.
Traverse, 52, of Paradise, sat down with CBC's Mark Quinn to talk about her experience with COVID-19, before vaccines were available to people her age, and to urge others to do everything they can to avoid the disease now.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
Q: Do you know how you got COVID-19?
A: It was in the Mount Pearl cluster [in February], one of my girls was a coach at a volleyball tournament and she got COVID. I can remember when she got the call and I was standing in a doorway and she stared to cry and I said 'If I could take it from you I would.'
Q: How did she fare?
A: She's good. She has a bit of asthma from it. She was sick. She was really sick but she's doing good now.
Q: When did you first find out you had COVID-19?
A: Feb. 17, after I had my second test. My first test was negative. Days later, my husband, who also tested positive, got a call from his public health nurse and he asked a few questions about my condition and she recommended that he take me to the Health Sciences Centre. She called ahead and they were expecting me. When we got there he had to help me into the wheelchair because at that point I wasn't walking on my own. I can barely remember the emergency department. I remember nurses coming all dressed up [in personal protective equipment]. My family says I sent a picture saying 'On my way to ICU' and then I told them I was on 100 per cent oxygen. The next day they came in and told me they were going to put me on a ventilator. Eighteen days later my husband came in all smiles. To me it was like I had just arrived there at the hospital it couldn't sink in that I was there 18 days.
Q: What has your recovery been like? What have you had to re-learn?
A: I had to learn how to eat, and drink, and walk and talk. I remember the first time the nurses took me up and my two legs went from under me. It was a scary comeback not knowing I was there for 18 days and coming out thinking I could do all this stuff but I couldn't. It's a scary virus.
Q: What's your message to people now?
A: It could happen to you. I didn't think it could happen to me, but it did and you wouldn't want your family or your friends to go through what my family went through for the past eight months and is still going through. For me, If I could have got the vaccine in January, I would have and I wouldn't have had COVID, but instead I'm still recovering from that horrible virus.