A young Vernon mom who has likely contracted coronavirus wants the world to take this pandemic seriously.
With piercing throat pains, Fiona Forshaw, 37, thought she had strep, but after calling her doctor she was advised that she probably has coronavirus.
“If you have seen me at all in the past two weeks I suggest you self isolate also,” said Forshaw, whose two BX Elementary children are quarantined with her, along with her fiancé, while her 20-year-old daughter is isolated with her dad. “My doctor said full quarantine.”
The problem, her doctor told her, is unless you are having severe symptoms, you can’t get tested.
“There are guidelines for testing that every doctor has to follow and I don’t meet the criteria.”
So she’s worried that a lot of people have it and don’t even know.
“If you just get a mild case of it you’re going to go out and spread it and not even know. You can be contagious for two weeks with no symptoms.”
What to look for:
For Forshaw, it started with a headache, being tired and a sore throat.
“I had a headache four days ago, but who thinks anything of a headache. I was moving,” Forshaw told the Morning Star on Friday, March 20, between a few hoarse coughs which she is medicating with heavy doses of cough syrup.
“By yesterday (March 19), it was a really bad sore throat. It feels like a heavy chest, kind of like my lungs are irritated, but I’ve had worse flus.”
She was lucky, her doctor answered the phone right away and told her the symptoms pointed to coronavirus. Meanwhile, her fiancé called his doctor 10 days ago and still hasn’t heard back.
Who should be concerned:
While heavy fear rests on her shoulders amid this pandemic, Forshaw is confident she and her family will be OK.
“I’m not worried about me, I’m young and healthy and can recover from things. I’m worried about people who are immune compromised. I’m worried about people who are not taking this seriously,” said Forshaw, who was recently in Thailand but said that was almost six-weeks ago, so she believes she picked up the virus since being home in Vernon.
“It just feels like its about to hit really hard here. I’m just hoping we’re doing enough to stay ahead of places like Italy.”
She is scared, as this is nothing any of us have seen in our lifetime, she said. And she’s concerned about the vast misunderstanding around it.
“At this point, just stay home,” said Forshaw, who has also postponed wedding plans for June in Tofino.
“Overreacting is actually more beneficial than under-reacting. People think this will just blow over, but everything that’s happening in the rest of the world tells us otherwise.”
Forshaw has also been very upfront with her potential virus, posting on social media and alerting anyone who may have been in contact with her.
“I’ve had people who work in health care write to me saying, ‘thank you for sharing it because we can’t.’”
Impact on local businesses:
She is taking the pandemic very seriously. Even before getting sick, she closed her business, Image Studios, in the Village Green Centre, long before other businesses started to shut down.
It’s a scary time for small business owners like herself.
“There’s so much uncertainty for small businesses. They said we could apply for EI but we can’t get through,” said Forshaw, who is still paying her sole staff member to work from home.
But she is optimistic that if people do the right thing, Vernon will be back in business soon enough.
“We should be back to work in three four weeks, hopefully.”
How to bide your time in isolation:
Meanwhile, Forshaw says she is still busy despite being homebound.
“I’m not bored because we just moved into a new house, so I’m unpacking, napping, lots of Netflix-ing and I have lots of editing to do.”
The kids, ages nine and 11, are also keeping busy playing video games and baking cookies, but they are missing their friends. She banned play dates even before she self-isolated and haven’t even taken the kids to the park or the grocery store.
“I will keep my little germ bags at home,” she said, as children are big carriers.
And since sharing her condition with the world wide web, Forshaw has had many heartfelt messages from those sending well wishes, offering to bring supplies and even dropping off goodies.
“My ex-husband dropped off wine because I’m stuck here with the kids.”
Although she is rationing supplies, especially leading up to her birthday on March 23, which she is bummed out considering the circumstances.
“We will not be leaving our house even for walks,” said Forshaw, whose fiancé is a care aid and is also off work.
How serious is this?:
She hopes her story will make others who aren’t taking this serious think again.
“In Save-On-Foods I saw a lady who obviously had cancer getting her own groceries,” said Forshaw, wondering where that woman’s support system was. “And lots of elderly people.”
Even when she was in the mall a few days ago picking up her camera from her store, she saw lots of seniors in the food court. But she said the mall has been taking this very serious since Day 1 and most stores are too, and have since closed their doors.
“When I was there a couple days ago it was down to just a couple cellphone stores and maybe Winners.”
But she is worried about the lack of enforcement Canada has taken, particularly airlines.
“When I went to Thailand in January they were checking our temperatures,” Forshaw said.
But she said that she, and another BX mom who was overseas, flew back home with no border checks.
“She was gone for a long time to the Philippines and came back and they were coughing and there were no temperature checks. Lots of people were sick and covering up their symptoms for fear they wouldn’t get on their next flight.”
Meanwhile, her own mother, whose immune system is compromised, has been self-isolating in Cherryville.
“I haven’t even seen my mom in a month.”
It’s not over yet:
And after a lengthy interview, Forshaw hopes her message is taken seriously.
In the meantime, with depleted energy levels, she’ll rest up to give her mind and body a break.
“I’m going to go for a nap,” she said. “I’m tired now.”