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

Chris Wilkinson
Chris Wilkinson column: Time to slow down to speed up

In a society where we learn (are forced?) to multitask like crazy

A COVID-19 exposure has been reported at Shawnigan Lake School. (Citizen file photo)
Island Health reports COVID-19 exposure at Shawnigan Lake School

Shawnigan Lake School has been added to the list of schools in… Continue reading

Peas are great to grow in the garden, but a trellis for them in an A frame shape will offer more portability and wind resistance. (Citizen file)
Mary Lowther column: Making a foldable pea trellis on winter agenda

My previous methods required starting anew every spring

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: Books open up a world of discovery

We try to eat dinner as a family every night. It happens… Continue reading

The Cowichan Tribes’ gymnasium at 5574 River Road is now operating as an extreme weather shelter. (Submitted photo)
New extreme weather shelter opens on River Road in Duncan

New facility should relieve some pressure on Warmland House

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for witnesses after the theft of a generator worth thousands of dollars. Photo supplied
RCMP asking Vancouver Island residents to watch for stolen generator

Vehicle may have been travelling on Highway 19

Most Read