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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The CVRD will reconsider its policies on fireworks after receiving complaints. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Regional District considers options for fireworks after receiving complaints

Distict only allows fireworks on Halloween and New Year’s Eve, with a permit

Ben Maartman, left, and Murray McNab are running for regional director for Area H North Oyster-Diamond in a Cowichan Valley Regional District byelection later this month. (Photos submitted)
Preliminary Area H byelection results show Maartman up by seven votes, McNab to ask for recount

Results of the by-election to by finalized by noon on Tuesday, December 1

Freighter anchored off Kin Beach in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Cowichan MP hosting virtual town hall on freighter anchorages issue

Residents can participate through MP’s website or Facebook page Dec. 3

Santa will be in Honeymoon Bay on Dec. 13. (File photo)
Santa to visit Honeymoon Bay on Dec. 13

Families must call ahead due to pandemic

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Most Read