From his hospital bed in Humber River Hospital, Toronto’s Delroy Noble watches a newly released movie on Netflix.
A nurse walks in to check his blood pressure.
“I’m feeling really grateful, you know, that … here in this country we have really good health care,” Noble said.
He has spent two and a half months in hospital.
He fell sick in early May after a shift at Pearson International Airport, where he has worked for the last ten years in the baggage department.
“Thought it was just allergies because this was near the end of April … I started really showing signs for COVID and I called the Telehealth line and after relaying my symptoms they said I should get tested,” he recalled.
The test came back positive.
Noble’s mother, aunt and younger brother all tested positive for COVID-19 too, although his symptoms were the worst.
With a high fever, he was instructed to go to hospital.
After spending two days in hospital, which Noble described as ‘uneventful,’ suddenly he remembered feeling unable to breathe and began to panic.
“I remember waking up for maybe 10, 15, 30 seconds. I felt like I was being moved somewhere, I open my eyes and I hear the doctor say, ‘Mr. Noble, we’re taking you to go operate on you and there’s a two to ten per cent chance you’re going to survive,'” he said.
That is the last thing Noble remembers.
It would be eight weeks later the next time he opened his eyes.
Also, a year older.
Noble turned 30 years old, while attached to a ventilator.
And 130 pounds lighter.
“First time they weighed me, they said I lost 80 pounds, and then the second time, I believe I lost roughly another 50, so in total I think I lost 130 pounds,” he said.
Noble has not lost his sense of humour through the ordeal, joking that he may have gained back a few pounds “because the food here is pretty good!”
The nursing team was very involved in Noble’s care and continues to be.
“Delroy came in through the emergency department, he had some respiratory issues … ended up in the intensive care unit, there was a consult to the critical care team … Was intubated and had spent 59 days on a ventilator,” said Suzi Laj, nurse manager in the ICU.
The entire medical team had high hopes for Noble, but like many other COVID-19 intubated patients at the hospital, they did not know what to expect.
“The general population that comes in with COVID is usually older. He’s one of the younger ones,” said Noble’s nurse, Lisa Eugene.
“He, at the very beginning, was on a lot of medications to support his blood pressure, as well as medications to keep him sedated and we were actively proning him, meaning that we were turning him on his belly because we found that was a great success with patients that were coming in with Coronavirus,” explained Laj.
For weeks, Noble’s family, having recovered from the virus, prayed he would survive.
“It was very hard, we had lots of prayers,” recalled his sister, Monique Noble. “We’re very grateful that he’s doing a lot better now.”
“Next memory I had was my sister poking me, trying to wake me up, asking me, ‘Do you know where you are? Do you know what date it is?’ and I remember her telling me ‘it’s June 30, you’ve been in a coma for two months,'” he said.
“He’s one of the lucky ones,” pointed out Eugene. “High hopes for him, he’s a very lucky man.”
Noble has a long road ahead of him.
He is unable to walk and is just regaining strength in his hands and arms.
Daily physiotherapy is helping and soon he will leave the hospital for a rehabilitation centre.
“Life has changed for him, the way he came into the hospital is certainly not how he’s leaving,” said Eugene, adding “he has some neuropathy in his legs so that’s going to take some time to move past … but at least he gets to go home.”
Noble does not take the journey lightly.
“COVID is no joke. When I fell unconscious on May 5, for all you know, I could have died that day and look how quick it took action on me, a young person,” he said.
His sister, who is anxious to have her brother back home, said she is still shocked at how sick he became with the virus.
“Normally it’s older people and it just shows that this virus doesn’t pick and choose, it just gets everyone,” she said.
Noble has a message to the general public.
“Personally when the pandemic first started I thought, ‘Hey, I’m a young man, if I get it I’m just going to get a cold.’ Little did I know … this is no joke, take it very seriously,” he said.View link »