“I’ve lived in the area my whole life — 48 years, born and raised. I grew up on Laderoute Avenue and then we lived at Avondale Avenue and Island Park Drive for more than 30 years. I’ve lived right next to the lawn bowling club in Westboro, behind the Clocktower Brew Pub, for 12 years, but I just bought a house in Crystal Beach, so I’ll be moving in seven months — my Westboro time has come to an end for now. I’m going to miss the neighbours, the safety, the security, the quiet, having the shops around and being able to look at all these beautiful homes. I have a dog, who is like my child, so I walk a lot, like two and a half hours a day. When you’re constantly walking around here, you appreciate everything that Westboro has to offer.
At work, we share a giant floor with Health Canada and I heard through Reddit on a Saturday that somebody [from Health Canada] contracted COVID-19. Originally, I thought, ‘who cares?’ Then I read it was on our floor, and so we probably had used the same washroom and the same elevator — I’m sure I got it there. And then [on a] Saturday, I went to a friend’s, and on Sunday those friends thought they had gotten the flu. On Monday, I started feeling body aches and then it just went downhill from there. I didn’t get tested right away because, at the time, one of the symptoms was a dry cough, and I was spitting up phlegm, so I thought that I definitely didn’t have it. But my brother’s fiancée is a doctor in a COVID[-19] ward and she advised me to get tested. So, I finally did and got the positive results back two days later (March 22, 2020).
It lasted for about 12 days and it was like the worst pneumonia or flu that you’ve had in your life. I had aches and pains and was physically exhausted. At night, I’d go to bed thinking I beat it and I’d wake up with the bed literally soaked every night. And then I was just sleeping all the time and had no energy. I think the fact that we didn’t know much about it then (March), because it was so new, along with the fact that I didn’t have difficulty breathing was somewhat reassuring, so I don’t think I had time to get too scared about it.
I lead a very healthy lifestyle — I don’t necessarily think that [helps] dealing with COVID[-19], but it definitely doesn’t hurt it. I still believe that COVID[-19] exists. The experience made me realize that it’s no joke. I had a friend who was in equally good shape as me, and he has two young daughters, and he was a day away from death on a ventilator. It helps if you’re in shape, but it certainly doesn’t prevent you from getting it.
I definitely take it (COVID-19) seriously. I’ll definitely get the vaccine. I have no fear of that. I’d get it tomorrow if I could.
I was amazed at the kindness of people. People that I thought were just acquaintances were so kind and not only got me stuff but refused to take money, and their children wrote me little notes. It really showed me that communities can come together and how many good people are out there. I was surprised, but not surprised. You just never know who’s going to step up until you ask them to step up and then you see.
I always live my life not waiting until later. I’ve gone to 82 countries so far and I plan to keep traveling as much as I can. This experience reinforces how I want to live my life [and] see as much as I can before I die.”
Story collected by Hollie Grace James.