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Matthew Cardinal
COVID-19 Survivor
Matthew in hospital bed with mask on

I found Lung Sask's COVID-19 support group on Facebook and it's helped tremendously. Reading the articles and knowing I'm not alone. Reading survivor stories and giving support helps heal me.

My Lung Story

"I contracted COVID-19 at work. Someone had come in while infectious; infecting myself, our bartender, and my boss. On March 22nd, I woke up and had a hard time breathing. I called 911 and was rushed to Regina General Hospital. My vitals slowly dropped over a few days and I couldn't walk without assistance. The nurses were incredibly worried and eventually they stopped giving me fluids and food. At this point, I was moved to the intensive care unit (ICU).

The ICU was a living nightmare and I was scared I was going to die. I was put into a medical coma and each day the medical team would wake me to see what functions I had. I believe they were also checking for signs of stroke as I had a blood clot in one of my lungs.

One day a respiratory therapist came to see me. He told me he was confident in my improvement and would pull put the intubation tube out if I was ready. I squeezed his hand to say yes. He pulled the intubation tube out and immediately placed high-flow oxygen in place. He told me to breathe in my nose and out my mouth. When it worked, he cheered!

After a day of monitoring to ensure I would not relapse, I was moved to the COVID ward. The medical team decreased my oxygen slowly over a few days. Eventually I was back on regular nose piece oxygen and I was then able to sleep peacefully. When I was no longer deemed infectious physiotherapy came to work with me.

On April 9th I was discharged and I know the doctors and nurses were shocked at my recovery. I was sent home with an oxygen concentrator, blood thinners, and equipment for bathing and walking. I used the walker for about two weeks, walking around the block with the oxygen concentrator to get my strength and mobility back.

To wean myself off the oxygen, I would turn the oxygen off for a few hours and only use it when I was uncomfortable. One day I forgot to sleep with it on, and I woke up alive! I checked my oximeter and I was fine. At this point, I was only able to walk 1,000 steps a day without oxygen but eventually, I started to take more and more steps, carrying oxygen in my bag in case I got winded. I am now walking 20,000 steps a day.

These days I feel mostly myself, but I have to be extra careful as my lungs are still in rough shape. I also still suffer from brain fog. My doctor said I have the lungs of a 50-year-old now. I got the Prevnar vaccine for pneumonia and will look at the shingles vaccine in February to help protect myself. I hope my lungs get better but I’m learning to live with my condition. As soon as I could, I got the COVID-19 vaccine. I cried with joy when I got my shot. Everyone who can get vaccinated needs to get it as anyone is susceptible to this virus and you never know how you will react."

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with COVID-19, join our online community of support!