Living with coronavirus is a ‘nightmare’
Paramedic with disease urges anyone with symptoms to get tested
NOTE TO READERS: As the community grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are those who keep other people safe and keep essential services running, including doctors and nurses, grocery store clerks and garbage collectors. These are their stories from the front line of Niagara’s battle with the novel coronavirus.
A Niagara paramedic who tested positive for the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus is asking anyone who has even mild symptoms related to the infection to call public health for an assessment.
“Going forward I advocate for anyone who is sick to get checked no matter how minor their symptoms,” said the paramedic, who has asked not to be identified by name. “No one should have to suffer this.”
The paramedic, an 11-year veteran of Niagara Emergency Medical Services, tested positive for the virus the first week of April and became a vector for the virus to spread without realizing it.
“I unknowingly exposed my family even before I had symptoms and spent the day with my kids when I was at my worst,” the paramedic told The St. Catharines Standard. “I had symptoms that weren’t obviously COVID-19: the worst headache ever — I felt as though a knife was going through my brain with each loud noise — and a scratchy throat, almost like allergies.”
The paramedic has been in isolation for two weeks since the onset of symptoms, but is still on the road to recovery.
“It took nearly 12 hours to develop a low-grade fever which only lasted six hours, thankfully, because the body aches were much worse than the regular influenza. I rarely coughed, and was never short of breath.
“Nearly 12 days in I am still tired on a daily basis, but otherwise asymptomatic. I was a truly lucky person with this infection — I know that other friends have had days of fevers and aches, coughing until they can’t breathe and GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms that don’t let up. “It is a nightmare.”
The paramedic said COVID-19 infection control measures “took over” the lives of Niagara EMS operatives, whose jobs place them at potential risk of exposure on every call they answer. Despite the precautions, the paramedic contracted the virus.
“It came home unexpectedly with me. Despite PPE, hand washing, truck sterilizing postcall, changing clothes immediately and laundering on hot, and leaving boots at work, it snuck in.”
The paramedic interacts with family “with a mask at all times and I wash my hands until they are raw.”
“My children tell me they love me even though I have the virus and are finally past worrying that their parent is going to die. Through this we have seen a great outpouring of caring — coworkers have been amazing and local friends have gone above and beyond (by) dropping off fresh groceries, small presents for kids for their birthday, buying us dinner, etc.”