A 36-year-old, former professional hockey player from Smithers is sharing her personal experience of battling a severe case of COVID-19.
Haleigh Callison told The Interior News she hoped going public would both inspire others to take coronavirus precautions seriously and help quiet at least some of the pandemic-denial and minimization rhetoric surrounding the disease.
“I knew I wanted to share because I felt like if I could help one person then it’s worth sharing,” she said.
“There’s definitely some nerves, because you don’t know how people are going to judge or whatever, but ultimately the judging was less important than if it has the potential to save somebody essentially, or actually, that could be the case.”
She did not come forward right away, but when she saw recent social media posts by people claiming the pandemic was just a political thing or a hoax or no worse than the regular flu, she was prompted to act calling those kinds of posts “a slap in the face” to people trying to recover and those who have lost loved ones..
“It was just really disheartening, and people I really respect, too, and I’m, like, ‘how are you feeling this way and feeling like it’s OK to share that?’,” she said. “I got a little frustrated about that, and felt… I don’t need to bite back on their responses or their posts, but I could purely just share my own experience and that’s what I did.”
In a Facebook post Nov. 29, Callison recounted her harrowing bout with the disease.
Despite being young, generally healthy, active and having followed, she felt, all the public health guidelines, Callison tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 10. She said getting that result was terrifying not only because she didn’t know how it would affect her personally, but that she might have passed it along to others.
She said she was extremely sick for eight days and very sick for a total of two weeks with symptoms including: throwing up, constant nausea, body aches and pains “like nothing I have ever felt before,” diarrhea, headaches, loss of appetite, scary and bad thoughts and dreams, trouble sleeping.
She added she lost 10 pounds in the less than 10 days and suffered from “unbelievable fatigue.”
On top of it all, she worried about loved ones.
“I remember clearly laying on the floor of my bath with the shower on, literally shaking in pain and ready to vomit for the fifth time that day thinking and crying because I know some of my family and friends would not get through this — whether their age, health, immunocompromised or other challenges I may or may not know about,” she wrote.
Now, almost two weeks after being released from isolation by public health as being non-infectious, she said she is still sleeping 12 to 15 hours a day and has to take frequent breaks from working because even mild activity is exhausting.
As a lumber trader with Olympic Industries in Vancouver, she said fortunately her job lends itself to working from home as she and her co-workers have been doing since the pandemic started in March.
“I’m really fortunate, my company is very supportive and ultimately made it clear I have to take care of myself before anything else,” she said.
“I just take the rest when I need it and I’m not pushing myself too hard because I can’t. I feel very, very lucky to have a job that allows me to recover because a lot of people don’t.”
In addition to encouraging people to follow the public health precautions and restrictions, Callison is hoping sharing her experience will inspire people to be kind and think of others and think twice about what they put online.
“I guess, I would ask, before you post something take two minutes to sit and think, if my parent, my best friend, my grandparent was in hospital not knowing how they will recover/if they will recover — or your partner was laying on the bathroom floor in pain and vomiting — would you still post what you are about to say?”