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

Hamels Fabrics & Quilting is set to open on April 6 in Sooke. The shop is located at 2044 Otter Point Road. (Mark Martins/Pixabay)
Fabric and quilting store opens doors in Sooke

Shop is filled with all kinds of ‘bright, bold and cheery’ designs

Eli, left, Brent, Lindsay and Ava Wilson. (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Wilson)
West Shore families share experience in raising a child with autism

Two families reveal some parallels, but circumstances are different for everyone

Kit Thornton, chief aquarist at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, plays with Wanda, the female Giant Pacific octopus currently residing at the centre. The centre will release Wanda back into the wild next month. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
An octopus named Wanda will soon say goodbye to Sidney

Wanda’s personality is ‘complete opposite’ of previous octopus named after Dr. Bonnie Henry

New hours went into effect at Saanich Parks and Public Works Yard for spring and summer seasons on April 6. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Spring, summer hours in effect at Saanich Public Works Yard

Residents reminded to practise social distancing, prepare to unload without staff help

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of being involved in a stabbing. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP trying to identify stabbing suspect who wielded rusty knife

Stabbing followed argument between two men at Port Place Shopping Centre April 1

The inside of the Campbell River Community Centre gymnasium has been marked off in order to facilitate the public flowing through the clinic as they receive their COVID-19 vaccination. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell river Mirror
Leftover vaccines go into arms, not down the drain: Island Health

Immunization plan comes with built-in options for any unused vaccines at the end of the day

A man wears a face mask past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Calls for stricter action in B.C. as COVID-19 variants projected to climb

Jens von Bergmann says the province has taken a ‘wait and see’ approach when early action is needed

Vancouver’s park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver park board issues order to restrict tents in Strathcona Park

The order issued Friday restricted tents and other temporary structures from being set up after April 30

Most Read