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

Hailey
Artist launches new business with help of 7S educator

Former school first client for Mystic Design owner Hailey Revolone, a Seven Summits alumna

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Tala MacDonald, a 17-year-old student at Mount Sentinel Secondary who is also a volunteer firefighter, has won the $100,000 Loran Scholarship. Photo: Submitted
West Kootenay student wins $100K scholarship

Tala MacDonald is one of 30 Canadians to receive the Loran Scholarship

First-year Selkirk College student Terra-Mae Box is one of many talented writers who will read their work at the Black Bear Review’s annual (virtual) launch on April 22. Photo: Submitted
June Hills of Trail won a big jackpot of $5,083 playing Bingo on Friday night with the @RotaryCommunityOnlineBingo on Facebook. Photo: Submitted
Trail player wins big jackpot in Rotary Community Online Bingo

Cards for regular games go on sale every Sunday

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Coldstream students took over the Your Letters page in the April 9, 2021, edition of the Vernon Morning Star to offer advice to adults about COVID-19. Interior Health took notice and offered their praise. (Vernon Morning Star)
‘We can get rid of COVID together’: B.C. kids share heartwarming advice

Grade 2 and 3 classes from a North Okanagan elementary took over Letters page of this Black Press newspaper

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

Most Read