Keith Schmidt says he never thought in a million years he would be diagnosed with COVID-19.
The Brantford, Ont., man is now recovering after being infected with the novel coronavirus and spending over a week struggling to breathe while isolated at Brantford General Hospital.
“I’m on the mend, that’s the main part,” he said on Thursday, just two days after being set home. “I still have a bit of a cough and I’m fairly weak, but the upside is that I’m past the bad part and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Schmidt, who is now self-isolating, is urging everyone to take the pandemic seriously after what he calls a “life-altering experience.”
His ordeal started on March 15 with a lack of appetite and a slight cough during his Sunday breakfast out.
Not thinking much of it, he went to work on a personal project that day at an industrial truck manufacturing shop he manages. As the day went on, Schmidt began to sweat profusely, feeling weak and dizzy while having trouble performing basic tasks.
Schmidt went home to rest, but his condition worsened and he was unable to go to work the next day.
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“I got tested that evening and from there it was just a horrible downward spiral where it got harder and harder to breathe,” he said.
He was convinced it was just a flu bug going around.
Schmidt said the idea of contracting the deadly disease had briefly crossed his mind, but he didn’t seriously think that a virus from China somehow found its way to him.
A few days later on March 20, Schmidt said he had to call an ambulance to his home after it was getting nearly impossible to breathe.
He admitted there were some very dark days in the hospital and he wasn’t sure if he was going live, but he knew he had turned a corner when his appetite returned and he started eating again.
After being sent home on Tuesday, Schmidt is still worried and taking every precaution.
“I’m still going to treat it as if I can get it at any time,” he said. “It’s just way too scary and there’s no way I could ever go through that again.”
More importantly, he doesn’t want to infect anyone else and he said he doesn’t want to be around anyone right now.
“I couldn’t imagine anybody ever getting it from me. I could never risk anything like that,” he said. “It was too much of a life-altering experience.”
Schmidt said the while the pain and discomfort were concerns, the uncertainties of the whole situation were the most terrifying aspect.
Doctors and nurses didn’t have answers and he said it seemed like things changed every hour while he was laying in the hospital bed.
But he is giving a lot of credit to the nurses and personal-support workers who may have saved his life.
“It’s incredible work they’re doing and the risks they’re taking,” Schmidt said.
Given this experience, his message to everyone is simple.
“Stay away from people, self-isolate and take this as serious as you possibly can,” he said. “I never thought in a million years it would get a hold of me and yet it did.
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