A friendship and an eye-opening appreciation for health-care workers are what 38-year-old Colleen Kelly was lucky enough to take away from the 11 days she spent in hospital with COVID-19.
For most of her stay, Kelly says she was on an oxygen machine and was told she was close to needing a ventilator. Despite how uncertain it all was, she walked away alive, befriended her 87-year-old COVID-positive roommate and came to better understand the unwavering efforts of the region's healthcare workers, she said.
"The nurses were so kind and they would come in and check on you and there's a lot going on on that floor," she said. "These people need to be recognized ... it was just like an eye-opener for me, the whole experience, not even with me but just what the health-care workers do."
Kelly shared her experience in the Facebook group Windsor Frontline Health Care Workers and told CBC News that she posted so that people working the front lines know that they are "changing people's lives" with their care.
The group was started two weeks ago to offer support to local healthcare workers during the pandemic and already has more than 6,000 members.
'I'm going to make it'
The whole experience has left Kelly in disbelief, mainly because throughout the entire illness, she said she never really felt "deathly" sick.
While battling the illness she said she never felt scared, but looking back she realizes that she could have died. Now she worries about whether others are taking the appropriate action when they test positive.
"Trust your instincts and listen to your body," she said. "They told me because my oxygen was so low my organs would start to shut down and I would not have made it through the night."
Like many people who have contracted the disease, Kelly said shortly after testing positive on Dec. 9, she felt tired, lost her sense of taste and smell and had persistent headaches.
A nurse friend told Kelly that the headaches might be from a lack of oxygen and that she should check her levels with an at-home monitor. When Kelly told her friend that her oxygen was around 65 per cent, the friend told her to immediately go to the hospital, as she said that was low.
"I've never been in a hospital before in my life so I've no idea what's going on and when I went in and sat down and the guy hooked the [oxygen] machine up to my finger, it was like pure panic," she said.
"And he just kind of went, 'oh my God, your oxygen's at 54 per cent' ... they kept asking me how I got to the hospital, did I walk into the hospital? because they couldn't understand how I was still walking and talking."
Once admitted, Kelly said she spent the next nine days on oxygen. During this time, she bonded with her roommate.
"She was incredible, like this lady was so funny, our energy in our room was always good, like we laughed and laughed all day long," Kelly said. "This 87-year-old lady was never scared either right. Like, never once did I hear anything negative come out of her mouth and I'm thinking like 'OK, you're going to make it, I'm going to make it.'"
Eventually Kelly recovered and was discharged from the hospital and two days later, so was her roommate.
Kelly says the two have already made plans to grab lunch together when it's safe to gather again.