Coronavirus: West Island woman with COVID-19 recounts her harrowing experience

A West Island woman confirmed to have COVID-19 is sharing her experience to drive home how dangerous the illness can be.

“Every morning is a bit better. I feel like I have more energy, but as the day goes on I sort of lose steam and it gets harder,” said 42-year-old Melanie Fournier, from self-isolation in her Dollard-des-Ormeaux home.

She has not travelled recently and says she has no idea where she got the virus. She told Global News she realized something was wrong last Friday.

“I woke up Friday morning, and I had a little tickle in my throat. I tried to cough it up, then 20 minutes later: fever,” Fournier said.

“Bang. It was almost at 40 degrees already, then I started coughing, hacking, I was congested.”

After spending hours trying to get through to health authorities over the phone, she says she was told because she had not travelled, she could not be tested.

“Now I’m four hours in, full-blown symptomatic, I don’t know who to call, they don’t want to test me, I’m very ill — it was the scariest moment of my life. I felt so alone, so isolated,” she recounted.

The rules have since changed, and symptomatic people can now be tested. She said she had to convince the agent on the phone to give her an appointment at the testing centre in Beaconsfield. When she finally did get tested, the whole thing took about 20 minutes.

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“I was actually really impressed with their efficiency,” she said.

Forty-eight hours later, she learned she’d tested positive. It’s what she had anticipated, but it was still hard to hear.

“I felt like, ‘oh my God, I’m going to die,’ then the second thought was how many people did I talk to? Who did i have contact with? Who have I infected?”

Public health agents said they’d call her co-workers. Her daughter with special needs had been out of the house at her dad’s place.

Her 15- and 18-year-old sons, however, have been living in the same house as her throughout the illness and are now in mandatory isolation.

“They’re feeling fine,” she said.  “They don’t have any symptoms. They’re going a bit stir crazy.”

Sometimes she can’t even get out of bed, she’s so weak. The fever spikes at night. One night, she says it got so bad she strongly considered calling 911, but getting in the bath reduced her fever.

She takes Tylenol regularly, but the relief is only temporary.

“The pain in my back where the lungs are, it just feels like there’s glass in there or something — sticking knives into my back. Just being exhausted and the fever is the worst for me,” she said.

One thing making her feel better is sharing her experience online. 

“I have been overwhelmed with positive messages and messages of hope,” she said.

She wants others to hear about her ordeal so they don’t feel as alone as she did. Fournier advises people to stay inside like the government says.

“If you get this, you’re not going to have a choice. You do not want to get this. It’s not like the flu.”

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