A Comox Valley woman used her experience battling COVID-19 to encourage others to get vaccinated. Black Press file photo

A Comox Valley woman used her experience battling COVID-19 to encourage others to get vaccinated. Black Press file photo

B.C. woman wants to help others by sharing intimate look at her COVID-19 experience

“Hopefully, (my story) can show that someone you love can go through (COVID) and it is real …”

It started with exhaustion and quickly proceeded with agonizing headaches and laboured breathing; following an emergency visit to the hospital, an X-ray even revealed one spot of pneumonia on the lungs.

For Comox Valley resident Natalee Liesel (name changed due to sensitivity around her workplace) catching COVID-19 was not only an incredibly exhausting and painful experience but one she’s using to try and help others take the virus seriously and encourage those who may be unsure to get vaccinated.

“When it’s in your face, raw, real, people might be able to see that this can happen to someone who lives down the street, someone in your family, it could be somebody’s mom,” she explains from her home.

Liesel first came across the virus after her son was exposed at his workplace and eventually tested positive. She made the decision to stay home from work as a precautionary measure while her son self-isolated. He had general ‘achiness’ for about 24 hours in addition to a fever, cough and a runny nose. She describes his symptoms as mild, and while he had a cough for about a week, he didn’t lose his appetite and returned to work following time at home.

Knowing it was best to stay within her home, Liesel asked friends to drop off disinfectant wipes and “constantly” sanitized surfaces around their home.

RELATED: COVID-19: ‘A slow and steady increase’ pushes B.C. into the third wave, top doctor says

“I thought I might get it, but I’m only 50 and pretty healthy, so I thought it would be okay. Once my son got it, I got it too.”

Within the first few days of being infected, Liesel describes the symptoms “as being hit by a truck. I thought, ‘if this isn’t COVID, then I’ve got a new plague.’ ”

By the time she received her positive test result, the battle against the virus was raging in her body. She struggled standing up, was in pain, had consistently low energy, laboured breathing and a throbbing headache.

“I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without catching my breath … I didn’t eat for two-and-a-half weeks. I survived on baby rice cakes and biscuits. I lost my sense of smell and taste – everything tasted alkaline and metallic. The nausea came partway too; I was all about the water and electrolyte powder.”

Liesel made several trips to the emergency room where the pneumonia was detected and she was put on intensive home monitoring to ensure her oxygen levels remained stable.

All the while, friends and family were checking in and wanted to assist in any way. For many, Liesel was the first person to catch COVID-19 within their circle of family and friends. Her mom, sister and a couple of friends initially wanted regular updates to ensure she was doing okay. If she didn’t check-in, they would call right away.

“I didn’t have the energy to talk on the phone. I began writing everything down and started sending out texts instead. I copy-and-pasted what I wrote in an email to my stepdad, and some I sent via Facebook Messenger.”

As more of those close to her wanted to check in on how she was progressing, Liesel copied all of her journal entries into one document and continued to send it in an email. She had friends and family ask if they could share the blog-style journal, which described her symptoms daily in detail.

Many people told her that her entries were “raw and real,” and would help those who didn’t believe in getting a vaccine.

“I’ve heard from several people who said ‘I’ve changed my mind (after reading the journal).’ It’s been shared and shared. I don’t want to take credit for it, but if I change these people’s minds, then it might make a difference. It even affected change within me – I wasn’t extremely worried about getting (COVID-19) and thought I would probably get the vaccine, but I wouldn’t rush out for it. Now I would go to the front of the line.”

Nearly a month since she contracted the virus, Liesel has now slowly regained some energy, and outside of occasional nausea, she does not have many lasting effects.

“I went down two pants sizes … but I’m slowly building my endurance again. I used to be able to garden for eight hours, and yesterday I made it for two-and-a-half. Hopefully, (my story) can show that someone you love can go through (COVID) and it is real and close to home.”

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.



photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chilliwack RCMP officers on the scene of a spreading brush fire in east Chilliwack between the CN tracks and Highway 1 on April 15, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Firefighters call for helicopter water drop as wildfire expands in Chilliwack

Chilliwack fire crews are on scene at wildfire near Cannor Road, but having difficulty accessing it

Japanese Canadian citizens being transferred into waiting trucks outside Hope Station House. NNMCC L2021-2-1-004. Photographs courtesy of the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre
Fight continues for historic Hope Station House

Ombudsman report and stop work order come alongside district’s move to remove heritage status

Lift equipment is driven away from a fire in an adjacent unit on Industrial Way in Chilliwack on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack firefighters deal with heavy smoke, extreme heat in challenging industrial fire

Crews successful in containing fire to 1 unit in industrial building, adjacent units suffer smoke damage

RCMP on the scene of an alleged attempted murder-suicide on Watson Road in Chilliwack on Thursday, April 15, 2021. (Shane MacKichan)
UPDATE: Shooting leaves one dead, one seriously injured in attempted murder-suicide in Chilliwack

Incident Thursday morning in townhouse complex across from Watson elementary school

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to three employees. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

B.C. Attorney General David Eby, Minister Responsible for Housing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

New HousingHub financing funds will encourage developers, groups – with low-interest loans – to build affordable homes

Most Read