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‘Why my family?’: COVID sends personal care worker to ICU with respiratory syndrome

Last Updated Nov 19, 2020 at 12:33 pm CDT

WINNIPEG (CITYNEWS) – The last two weeks have been a nightmare for Manitoba’s Lester and Christie Mae Quives after a COVID-19 diagnosis quickly turned into a fight for life in an intensive care unit.

The couple and their two daughters tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month and were all initially asymptomatic. Two days into self-isolation, Lester began exhibiting symptoms and his condition rapidly took a turn for the worse.

The father and personal care worker began having difficulty breathing and his fingers turned purple. Against his wishes, Christie called an ambulance and her husband was rushed to the hospital.

“Seeing him suffering from shortness of breath, (it was) so hard,” said Christie. “I wanted to go with him to the hospital but then I can’t because we are also self-isolating.”

Medical staff in Steinbach, Man. determined Lester had extremely low oxygen levels in his blood. He was diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Christie says she received a call from her husband from his hospital bed in Steinbach. While struggling for breath, he said he was being moved to the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. There, he would be placed on an intubation machine to fight the virus.

Because Christie remains positive with COVID-19, she could not travel to Winnipeg and be with him.

“I can’t go and comfort him, hug him, whisper to him that you’re going to be okay, that you will come back, that the kids are waiting for you,” she said. “It’s very hard.”

Lester and Christie Mae Quives. (Credit: FACEBOOK/Christie Mae Quives)

The couple have recently begun communicating via video calls – their only contact since Lester was rushed to hospital on Nov. 9. Christie says her husband finally opened his eyes for the first time on Tuesday.

“When he heard my voice, he opened his eyes, and then I saw tears in his eyes,” she said. “I cried and said, ‘oh my love, oh my love, oh my love.’ That’s all I could say in that moment.”

Christie is optimistic the worst is behind him now. She says Lester’s situation should act as a warning to people who believe the virus isn’t real.

“The virus is very, very bad,” she said. “Yeah, take it seriously. It’s not a joke. It’s not a joke. If you’re in my situation, you will understand how bad, how sad, how frustrating. And you will ask, ‘why my family?’”