Nicholas Edwards

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The mornings after nights of tragic deaths are quiet at the Augustus Long Hospital as doctors and nurses feel the pain of losing another patient. Those afflicted with COVID-19 worry if they would be next.Lying on a bed, unable to even touch his toes, marine worker and fitness instructor Nicholas Edwards wondered if his life would be cut short at 36, falling victim to the pandemic.

Edwards said for three of the 12 days he spent at the COVID-19 care facility in Pointe-a-Pierre, it was the worst of his life. “A simple thing as trying to brush my teeth, I could not do. A simple thing like trying to raise up to eat a slice of bread or a spoon of rice, I was rendered almost incapable. It was such a scary and traumatic experience.

“It was like you are lying there on a bed, and any move too drastic could render you out of breath and gasping for air. There was a period when I thought I would not make it because things were looking so bad for me,” Edwards said. He fell ill on April 23 at his father’s home in San Fernando. He stayed away from work the following day to avoid putting his colleagues at risk. After taking Panadine and Panadol Extra Strength, he began feeling better and went to be with his family in Point Fortin on April 25.

That night, he began experiencing severe fever and nausea. The next day, he went to a doctor, who examined him and diagnosed him with severe tonsillitis. The doctor prescribed antibiotics, Chloraseptic, EmergenC and told him to gargle with salt and warm water. Edwards returned to his family and followed the doctor’s instructions. But that evening, he began suffering from chest pains and breathing difficulties. “I felt like if I did not sit up appropriately, even while trying to sleep at night, I could not breathe properly. I felt there was mucus in my chest that was pressing against me.” By morning, he had enough and went to the Point Fortin Hospital, where a doctor immediately administered oxygen.

A chest x-ray, CT scan and nasal swab confirmed the doctor’s suspicion that Edwards was COVID-19 positive. The doctor ordered Edward’s transfer to the Augustus Long Hospital.By night-time on April 28, the medical staff was administering fluids intravenously, oxygen and medicine for Edwards’ chest infection. “The 28 to the 30, I think, were the three most difficult days of my life. It was an experience that I wish upon no one, and people need to be aware of the seriousness and severity of this COVID virus that is going around.”Edwards said he had no pre-existing health conditions, exercised and ate healthily, but still contracted COVID-19, which attacked his lungs to the point that he needed assistance to breathe. He also suffered intense fever and body pain. But from despair came recovery, and by May 1, he was able to hobble to the sink and brush his teeth.

Edwards lauded the care at the hospital, saying that every staff member showed professionalism to patients, regardless of their ethnicity, sex and social status. “I would say that these people are really risking their lives to help us, the normal people. There is no discrimination against colour, creed or race. These people are there to help, and that is exactly what they were and are doing.”

Now discharged, Edwards is in recovery with monitoring from doctors. However, he is taken aback by social media. He said some people were condemning the public health restrictions because they either believe that COVID-19 is not a severe virus or is not real. “They need to open their eyes and realise that this pandemic is real. This virus is so real and dangerous. It is not a game. It is not a time for people to be arrogant or ignorant. This virus, people would not believe until they experience what someone went through to know,” he said.

Edwards said during his 12-day stay, at least nine people died. All were in the Intensive Care Unit and all had the same symptoms he did. Edwards urged everyone to take the virus seriously and follow public health officials’ recommendations so that they and their loved ones would not fall victims as those already gone.