A Vernon family gives an inside look to the COVID-19 virus in this week’s Behind the Mask.
(Carole Fawcett photo)

A Vernon family gives an inside look to the COVID-19 virus in this week’s Behind the Mask. (Carole Fawcett photo)

Behind the Mask: COVID-19 a family affair for Vernon household

Columnist Carole Fawcett speaks with a family who while safe and cautious contracted the virus

You are living your life, working, spending time with the family.

The COVID-19 pandemic happens. You now are using masks, sanitizing everything and making sure to keep a safe six-foot distance from one another.

You and your family are being extremely careful and follow all the guidelines.

One day, you feel unwell.

You are tired, may have a fever and are coughing. You contact the Health Unit and are tested.

They contact you via email or text to tell you the results and what to do next.

They also check out the contacts you have had.

The worst news is confirmed – you have COVID.

It feels like the beginning of the end. That is how a 55-year-old man in Vernon (we’ll call him Dan) felt when he was diagnosed with COVID. Unbeknownst to the family at the time, this would be the start of a six-week ordeal for all of them.

Dan’s symptoms were extreme fatigue and he was sore from head to toe.

They could hardly believe it could be COVID, as they had been so fastidiously cautious. But it was.

He isolated in the primary bedroom, as it had an ensuite. His wife, Cathy would leave food outside the room on a chair.

Luckily, he didn’t need to attend the hospital and was able to recuperate at home. He was off work for two weeks.

His fatigue was debilitating and he could barely keep his eyes open.

Movement was challenging due to the deep muscle and bone ache.

Shortly after Dan got sick, his eldest daughter, Sarah, was diagnosed with COVID. Like her dad, she was extremely fatigued and sore with cold-like symptoms.

So, she isolated in the family’s lower level and was looked after at home as well. The disruption in the family’s life and the subsequent stress was enormous as each day brought with it worries and concerns of what might happen to them as a result of having the virus.

They had heard of the ‘long haulers’ and hoped that they would not fall into this category. But one of them has.

Long haulers are those who have had COVID and are left with residual side effects after their recovery.

The next one to get sick was Sarah’s boyfriend, John. He became very sick after two weeks and developed pneumonia. He had to be hospitalized for four days. He was unable to return to work for one month.

They hoped that was the end of COVID in the family, but four days later, Cathy became ill. She had a sore throat, overwhelming fatigue and felt weak.

She hoped it was a head cold, but a cough developed and with it, breathing difficulties. She could not breathe easily and had to sit upright in bed in order to do so. It was a frightening time.

Her sense of smell and taste still have not returned, making her a long hauler.

They shared with me COVID it is a lonely disease, as they all felt fearful of the unknown, even though three of them were able to remain at home to be taken care of.

While there are some consistent symptoms of COVID for most people, it impacts everyone differently. Both Dan and Cathy feel frustrated when they hear and see people spreading misinformation and discounting the seriousness of the virus. They encourage people to continue to err on the side of caution as things open up.

The names of the people in this story have been changed. They are a real Vernon family who wish to remain anonymous. Thank you to “Dan, Cathy, Sarah and John” for sharing their experience. Carole Fawcett is a retired counsellor and freelance writer. Behind the Mask is a series that takes a look at some of the hardships, achievements and unintended consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. See more of her work online at wordaffair.com. If you have a pandemic story to share, please contact her at flower1@shaw.ca.

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