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Manitoba man warns others of harrowing COVID illness

Click to play video: 'Manitoba man warns others of harrowing COVID-19 experience' Manitoba man warns others of harrowing COVID-19 experience
WATCH: A young Manitoba parent says he's living through a nightmare after being put in a medically-induced coma since testing positive for COVID-19. – May 21, 2021

A young Manitoba parent says he’s living through a nightmare, after testing positive for COVID-19.

“I’ve been very, very, very lucky, but I got to dance with the devil, and I got to come away with it. But it was very close and I almost didn’t get to see my wife or my son again,” says 35-year-old, Kris Isford.

As he shares his story via video call, he describes the difficulty of holding up his cellphone, and even carrying on the conversation.  But he says he knows it’s an important one to share.

Read more: ‘Waiting for my time to die’: COVID-19 patients, families recount time spent in Regina ICUs

Both Kris, his wife and 15-month-old son all tested positive for COVID-19, but Kris’s experience was much different than his family’s.

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In a matter of seven days after being notified he was in close contact of a COVID-19 positive case, the unimaginable happened — right before Isford was able to get a vaccine.

“I was a few days short of being eligible when I contracted the virus,” Isford says. “I got the virus, became eligible, but at that point it was too late.”

Kris Isford is pictured with his wife and son. All three contracted COVID-19. Submitted
“My body was failing rapidly, from the time I was notified to the time I ended up in Brandon [hospital]”

“I was notified Tuesday afternoon, I was in hospital Saturday afternoon.”

Three days later, he was forced to make a phone call no husband wants to make.

“When they told me, it’s time for a medically induced coma, that crushed me, it devastated me.”

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Read more: Montreal man tells of incredible recovery after COVID-19 left him near death and in a coma for months

“Not knowing whether I was going to come back out, not knowing whether I was going to hold my wife and son again.”

“The most difficult phone call I’ve made in my life was to tell my wife that I’m going for a nap, I’m not sure what’s going on.”

While he knows everyone responds to the virus differently, Isford spent 12 days being intubated in the Brandon ICU.

“It takes everybody differently. My close contact just got flu for a few days … I’ve been in this hospital for a month now.”

Kris Isford pictured in ICU. Submitted

“This will attack you, it will take you out. Our system is already so heavily taxed right now, the equipment is not there to support more people rolling in to ICU because of COVID.”

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Manitoba hospitals and ICUs have been over-capacity for weeks. As of Friday, five patients were flown to Ontario hospitals due to capacity concerns.

“The ICU is packed right now,” Isford describes. “They’re short-staffed. The staff they’ve got are busting their butts. I’ll give them credit, they’re doing an amazing job with what they’ve got.”

Read more: Nurses working during COVID-19 pandemic ‘beyond the point of burnout’

As for himself, he knows he’s got a long road of recovery ahead of him, even relearning simple tasks.

“I went from a 35-year-old male who was renovating a house, to a 35-year-old male who relies on nurses and nurses aids in order to help me clean myself, help me feed myself.”

“This has crushed my body, 12 days on a ventilator took everything. I have little muscle mass, it’s gone. I’m learning how to walk again, I’m learning how to go to the bathroom again, it’s like starting from scratch again.”

Isford says they’ll need to adjust their house, as he’s not able to use stairs. He walks about 15 steps before needing to take an hour’s rest.

He’s hoping to leave the hospital in about a week and continue the rehab at home. In the meantime, he has one message to Manitobans.

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“Please, please people just go get the vaccination. This affects everybody differently, and our system is sadly taxed already, and if you go in, you might not come out.”

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