Canada

‘It did help’: Ontario woman credits vaccine with saving her life after contracting COVID-19

Patricia McRae, 79, of Burlington, is feeling stronger every day after falling severely ill in April with COVID-19 following her first dose of the vaccine.

“It’s not a good experience. I almost died. And luckily, I made it, I survived,” she said.

Now at home recovering from the ordeal, McRae credits the vaccine with helping her beat the virus.

“I was lucky enough to be on the (ventilator) for only three-and-a-half or four days. Some people are on it for a long, long time and they end up having a tracheotomy and all that stuff … so that’s the first vaccine, and that was within less than 10 days after I got it. So it did help,” she said.

Read more: ‘She deteriorated like she fell off a cliff’: Vaccinated Ontario senior battles COVID-19 in hospital

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McRae said she was looking forward to getting the vaccine. “I was so happy, so happy that I got it and I couldn’t wait,” she recalled.

Within a few days, she began feeling unwell.

“It was … like really, really bad exhaustion,” she said.

Out of an abundance of caution, she went to get tested for COVID-19. The test came back positive. But that’s all McRae remembers until she woke up in a hospital bed more than a week later.

Read more: Toronto COVID-19 survivor says ‘dying alone’ was her greatest fear

“She deteriorated like she fell off a cliff,” said Mary Lynn Futers, McRae’s daughter, when Global News spoke with her back in April.

“There was a nuance. It was a hand tremor. It was a slight incoherence … when the paramedics arrived, she was saturating 45 per cent on room air, which is incompatible with life.”

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McRae was rushed to Joseph Brant Hospital where she was hooked up to a ventilator.

The family is not certain where and when McRae contracted the virus, but believe it may have been at a local grocery store that experienced an outbreak around the time she received her first shot.

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“There was shock and disbelief that we actually were now one of those families that had a precious loved one that was critically ill,” recalled Futers.

“It was a tumultuous time … I think I am still processing all of the trauma.”

After several days in ICU, McRae was taken off the ventilator.

“When they told me that I had a 20 percent chance of living, it basically was a miracle that I was alive,” she said.

But soon after, there was a second scare.

Read more: ‘I’ll live to see another day’: COVID-19 survivor describes effects of virus 8 months later

“I came out for about a day and a half and then I had to go back in because I had double pneumonia and then I also had C Difficile,” she said.

“When she went back in the ICU again, it was dismal. The doctors basically asked us to prepare to say goodbye. We had said goodbye to her and then she told us that she wasn’t done,” said Futers.

“There’s a part of you that is like, ‘OK, let’s let her believe that,’ and there’s a part of you that’s like, ‘gosh, I hope this is true.'”

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Amazingly, the very next day, Futers said her mother began improving.

She has continued to get better ever since with regular physiotherapy.

Read more: ‘We’re the pioneers’: Survivors of COVID-19 share their stories

“Dooda,” as McRae is lovingly called by her family members ever since her first granddaughter used the term, may have lost some time in the ICU, but she has not lost her sense of humour.

“I told the nurse apparently to shut up. And I never tell anybody to shut up! And it was one of the sweetest nurses that we could have ever had,” she laughed.

McRae received her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while in hospital.

“It was like Christmas Day in the hospital!” she said, adding “Having had COVID and the second vaccine, I’ve got antibodies coming out my ears!”

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