Inside the ICU: Lower Mainland woman, 72, battles COVID-19

Inside the ICU: Lower Mainland woman, 72, battles COVID-19

Cathy Gibbs didn’t think she was seriously ill. Her daughter thought differently.

Lower Mainland resident Cathy Gibbs wasn’t feeling well, but she didn’t think it was anything too serious.

She’d recently been to dinner at the house of a neighbour who was part of her “bubble” — a limited number of people she didn’t have to be socially distant with during the current coronavirus pandemic.

“All of a sudden, after dinner, she [the neighbour] got unwell,” Gibbs described.

Shortly after that, the neighbour phoned Gibbs.

“She said she had been exposed to COVID and now I had, too,” Gibbs recalled.

“We were responsible and it still got us.”

The Langley City woman decided to self-isolate at home.

She developed a persistent cough.

READ ALSO: Do you think you have COVID-19? Here is what to do next

“I just kept getting sicker and sicker,” Gibbs recalled, but she didn’t think it was too serious.

But her daughter, Tammy, could hear the difference in her mother’s voice when they spoke on the phone.

Tammy, who lives in Edmonton, phoned the local ambulance service.

“Someone’s got to check on my mom,” Tammy said.

When Tammy explained her mom wasn’t in Edmonton, but in B.C., the Alberta paramedics connected with their B.C. counterparts, and an ambulance team arrived at Gibb’s door to check her health.

“That’s when I found out I have pneumonia [caused by COVID-19],” Gibbs recalled.

“I just didn’t realize I was as sick as I was.”

A nurse at hospital later told Gibbs she was lucky that her daughter called when she did.

After about a day and a half at Langley Memorial Hospital, Gibbs was transferred to Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH).

Gibbs recalls the paramedics applying defibrillator pads to her chest for the trip, in case she suffered a heart attack en route, and how they drove with sirens on the whole way.

“They weren’t taking any chances, that’s for sure,” Gibbs commented.

She is full of praise for the paramedics and medical staff at both hospitals.

“I can’t say enough.”

READ ALSO: Meet the ‘disease detective’ who tracks COVID-19 cases in Langley and other Fraser Health jurisdictions

At 72, Gibbs was enjoying an active retirement after several years as Langley MLA Mary Polak’s constituency assistant, as well as Polak’s predecessor, Lynn Stephens.

On the one-year anniversary of her retirement, on Monday, Aug. 31, Gibbs was at SMH, hooked up to oxygen and a blood pressure monitor, and several other medical devices – unable to get out of bed without assistance.

To help her lungs recover, “I have to lay on my stomach for two hours a day,” she told the Langley Advance Times during a telephone interview from her ICU room at SMH. She’s one of the 10 in B.C. who top doc Dr. Bonnie Henry has listed in ICU with COVID this week.

Gibbs isn’t sure when she will be coming home.

“I think it’s too early to say.”

She said medical staff seemed happy with her progress to date.

“I’m actually doing pretty well,” Gibbs said. “I can actually sit up in a chair. My energy is coming back and the COVID ‘fog’ has lifted.”

Gibbs’ advice to people who doubt the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic; “it is real” and even in a small bubble, it is possible to be exposed.

She posted a message online to say she hopes young people are getting the message.

“I know that this virus has affected your life, it’s affected everyone,” her Facebook posting read.

“You can be grateful that you won’t get as sick as I did, if you get it. I know you are young and you want to live you life, I get that. I am old, but that doesn’t mean that I want to die, do YOU get that?”

Since she posted to Facebook about her trip to the ICU, dozens of people have flooded her page with messages backing her fight to recover.

“I am so overwhelmed with the show of support I can’t even find the words,” Gibbs posted.

“Thank you hardly seems enough, but that’s what I have. Thank you and love you all.”



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusLangley CityLangley Memorial Hospital

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctos urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

Most Read