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

West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni received some good news about an expansion to its emergency department on Jan. 15, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
B.C. health ministry commits $6.25M to hospital expansion in Port Alberni

Plans for larger emergency department have been on hold since 2015

A Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation guardian took this photo of dozens of vehicles parked along a forest service road in the Kennedy watershed. (Submitted photo)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District looks at enforcement of illegal camping

ACRD currently does not have an existing bylaw service to tackle the issue

Ucluelet local Geoff Johnson snapped this photo of a Risso’s dolphin that washed up near Chesterman Beach in Tofino on Wednesday, Jan. 13. (Geoff Johnson photo)
Washed up Risso’s dolphin offers glimpse into “whole other world” near Tofino

“It’s like a UFO crash landed and you can come look at it.”

(B.C. government)
POLL QUESTION: Would you report a neighbour in breach of COVID-19 regulations?

Would you report a neighbour in breach of COVID-19 regulations? READ MORE:… Continue reading

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Most Read