After almost losing his life to COVID-19, Kris Isford says life is anything but back to normal, now months later.
“People have to realize, like this virus is serious. It can do a lot of damage very quickly,” the 35-year-old husband and father says.
He was admitted to the Brandon hospital in May, where he was put into a medically induced coma.
Kris was just 5 days away from being eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Months later, he continues to remain off work, and his life now consists of multiple doctor’s appointments and physiotherapy sessions three days a week.
“Anything more than 30 or 40 feet of walking with a walker when I first got out of the hospital was difficult. I was fatigued very easily,” he said.
Kris’s wife Alyssa and their then-14-month-old son Jameson also contracted the virus, with less severe symptoms, but all three continue to see lasting implications from the infection.
“When the wildfire smoke rolled into town, I struggled with it,” said Kris.
“Jameson struggled with it. That was actually the time we ended up having to take him to the emergency room because our lungs have taken some damage out of this.”
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The couple believes there’s a stigma associated with getting COVID-19, and says they think that’s why there are few people willing to share the post-COVID conditions.
“I think there’s this idea that if you get COVID, then you were being irresponsible or you are some kind of a bad person,” Alyssa says.
The couple says they want to share their story in hopes of having people realize the implications the virus can have, even when you’re no longer infectious.
“You can rationalize in your head, like, ‘OK, I’m not on any medications, I work out, I’m healthy,’ but you don’t know that you’re going to be OK … there’s no guarantee for that,” Alyssa says.
“He was always like a strong ox-type man. And you look at that and you think if that can do that to a man like that, then it can do it to anybody.”
When Kris returned home from the hospital, he and his wife had to reconfigure their house to make it more accessible.
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“We moved our bed into the living room so that there was less space that Chris had to walk from the door to the bed and then the bed to the bathroom,” Alyssa said.
They also purchased special mobility support equipment for the shower and toilet so Kris could more easily utilize the bathroom.
Kris said it was a matter of just 10 days from when he was first exposed to COVID to when he landed in the ICU. “It just runs its course fast and aggressively. So people have to be very wary of the severity of this,” he says.
“What we don’t see is, there’s 75 people in our ICUs and the next day there’s a higher or lower (number) — like what happened to those people? Some of them didn’t die, some of them came off the ventilator. But what is their life like now?” Alyssa says.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, post-COVID-19 symptoms can last for months after infection.
However, the couple says there is a positive outcome from Kris’s story.
“We’ve gotten countless, countless messages from people saying that they weren’t planning on getting vaccinated or they were on the fence or they hadn’t really even considered it. And then when they saw what was happening to us, they went and got their vaccine,” Alyssa says.
“We feel like we did get granted our miracle, you know, like the one you get to ask for once for your whole life — we got it. So nothing else can bad can happen because we used up our miracle.”