Debby Clements is trying to get back into painting again, a hobby she loved prior to contracting COVID-19 in April 2020.
Just about every aspect of the New Brunswicker’s life has had changed entirely.
“My independence is greatly affected. We had to move houses because I can’t manage stairs anymore,” Clements tells Global News.
“My lungs are still damaged, my vocal cords are still damaged and my brain is… ridiculous. I forget words.”
Now living in Riverview, she recalls little of the harrowing experience in hospital when she required a ventilator in intensive care.
“It was a very scary, a very lonely time,” she says, “the parts that I do remember.”
Clements, who has a history of asthma, was hospitalized nearly one year ago. Doctors warned her husband, Mark Clements, of the severity of his wife’s condition.
“They told him that I probably won’t make it through the night,” Debby says.
She’s not sure when or how she’ll fully recover, with a continuously-changing timeline from her doctor.
“He’d say, ‘Oh, you’ll feel much better in a couple months,’ and then a couple months go by. ‘Oh, you’ll feel better in six months,’” she says. “And then it was, ‘Oh, you’re going to need some more time — maybe 12 months.’”
“And (my doctor) just kind of calls me his unicorn because I was one of the first who was so severely ill.”
She’s now trying to regain some of her creativity, and painting is certainly a big part of that.
“It was such a big part of my life,” she says.
Mark and their daughter, Avery, also contracted the virus. But by comparison, their side effects were minimal.
She’s frustrated by people who still think the virus is a hoax. If others were impacted the way her family has been, or others who lost loved ones, she says “they would probably change their mind and act accordingly.”
But she’s thankful for community support and plasma donations to help her along in her recovery.
Marking one year since New Brunswick’s first COVID-19 case, it’s difficult to remember pre-pandemic times.
But Clements is hoping for better days ahead.
“If this ever gets wrapped up, that will be a happy day,” she says.
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