A St. Paul mother is speaking up about the risks of COVID-19 after catching the virus from her four-year old, who is one of the seven children to test positive since the outbreak at the St. Paul and District Boys and Girls Club. Nine staff and seven children have tested positive and been linked to the childcare centre, which remains closed until Dec. 1.
Jade Giesbrecht, 35, said until she got sick she and her husband Ronny had been questioning if the virus was even real.
That all changed on Nov. 16, when their daughter Lena tested positive for COVID-19 and became patient zero in the Giesbrecht household.
“And she is asymptomatic. She still has zero symptoms, she had none at all,” said Giesbrecht, who tested negative along with her husband and their nine year old son Jacob at the same time.
On Nov. 19, Giesbrecht started experiencing symptoms – a fever so high she was delirious and feeling as though she had a head cold.
“Day two, similar. Day three, like complete full body hurts, everything hurts. It just kicked my butt. It was surprising. I’ve had colds and flus before and never have I ever had that weakness,” said Giesbrecht, who also lost her sense of taste and smell. She was re-tested on Nov. 21 and confirmed positive for COVID-19.
She made a Facebook post about her experience on Nov. 26, day seven of the illness, and spoke to Lakeland Connect over the phone on Nov. 27.
“I have been getting a little bit better today. Other than I have a stuffed up nose and my ears hurt. But I’m walking around and folding laundry and actually able to not get dizzy. Even yesterday, every time I sit up I get dizzy,” said Giesbrecht.
She said most of the time she had been sick she hadn’t been able to even sit up for more than a half hour at a time, so her husband had been taking care of her and both children while trying to keep the virus at bay in the family’s small home.
“We only have one bathroom. So we’ve been sanitizing the bathroom between every use,” said Giesbrecht. She said she has spent most of her time lying down in her bedroom where she’s also been eating her meals to keep distance from the rest of the family. Ronny has been doing all the cooking and cleaning.
“And then because their [Ronny and Jacob’s] last contact with a positive case is my last day of being sick, they still have to quarantine for another 14 days after that,” said Giesbrecht. If either her husband or her son start experiencing symptoms they add another ten days of quarantine from the start of symptoms.
“When I called 811 the nurse I spoke to, she informed us my husband, my son and I were tested too soon. We should have been tested six to seven days after my daughter’s positive results,” said Giesbrecht, noting there has been some confusion over the past week with different nurses giving conflicting information about the quarantine period.
“I know they’re working their butts off, we know that they’re swamped. And still it seems like it’s still so much unknown,” said Giesbrecht.
She said now that she’s experienced the virus she wants people to take it seriously.
“I get flus and colds multiple times a year, especially this time of year. But I have never had such a battle. And luckily, I don’t have to be hospitalized and don’t have any underlying medical conditions other than obviously I’m overweight. But even that too, I honestly have a feeling that that has contributed to me being so sick for so long,” said Giesbrecht.
“If somebody has medical issues, or if someone elderly got this. I can see them ending up in hospital and dying.”
Giesbrecht said the outpouring of support from the community while they’ve been quarantined has been very eye-opening. From her employer Xtreme Oilfield Technology checking in daily and loaning the family an iPad so Jacob can do his school work; to Ben at Sobeys who “shopped thrifty for me like I like and delivered it right to our back door; to family and friends who have dropped off craft kits for the kids and checked the mail.
“It makes you really see the community come together and that we are cared for. You don’t know at the end of the day, do people like me? Are we good people? Well, from all of the love that we’ve had from friends, community members, and the people reaching out. We do. We got people,” said Giesbrecht.
She said while they certainly haven’t stopped questioning the government it’s important for people to stop fighting and start working together “because that’s the only way we’re all going to get through this.”
“Whether this virus is man-made or not, it is real, and we need to protect those and do what we can. After I’m done quarantine, am I going to wear a mask when I go out? Hell yeah. Did I always wear a mask when I went out before this? No. I didn’t,” said Giesbrecht.
As of Monday, there are 90 active cases within the St. Paul-Saddle Lake “local geographic area” on Alberta’s COVID data map.