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

B.C. wineries are open for indoor tasting despite new provincial health regulations. Photo- 
50th Parallel Winery, Instagram.
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

The District of Peachland seen from the skies over Highway 97. (Contributed)
Peachland council supports RDCO emergency operations grant application

The district’s emergency operations are managed regionally

Elijah Beauregard, 16, was stabbed in downtown Kelowna on June 27, 2019. He died of his wounds three days later in hospital. His family is raising money to put a memorial bench at his favourite skatepark in Penticton.
Young woman charged in stabbing death of Penticton teen pleads guilty

The teen, who can’t be named, will appear in Kelowna Supreme Court Tuesday

A crane stands in the middle of a fire-ravaged Glenmore Road construction site on Thursday, April 8. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Evacuation order remains in effect around burned Glenmore Road construction site

Assessment of potentially risky crane to take place this afternoon

Kelowna-based company GTEC Cannabis Co. has paid off $6 million in debts. (GTEC Cannabis Co. - Facebook)
Kelowna cannabis company pays off $6M debt

GTEC Cannabis Co. is now one of the few debt-free companies in the sector

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

The Red Pill Rapper performs to the crowd gathered for the Rally For Food Security at Blackburn Park on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Kristal Burgess Photography)
The Red Pill Rapper performs to the crowd gathered for the Rally For Food Security at Blackburn Park on Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Kristal Burgess Photography)
Suspicion of ‘fake news media’ makes rally uncomfortable for Salmon Arm event photographer

More than 300 people counted at city park for ‘Rally For Food Security’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

The former Summerland Asset Development Initiative building on Prairie Valley Road in Summerland was suggested as the site for a temporary transitional housing facility for the community. However, Summerland council has rejected this proposal. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland council rejects transitional housing facility

Concerns raised about short timeline and condition of municipally-owned building

Penticton Vees continue their winning streak carrying a 5-0 win title as of Sunday night's hockey action. (Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography)
Penticton Vees continue winning streak

Sunday night’s 6-1 win has them with five in a row since the start of the season

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

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Most Read