'I was on a life-support machine for 29 days', says 59-year-old Covid-19 survivor

'I was on a life-support machine for 29 days', says 59-year-old Covid-19 survivor
Madam Choy Wai Chee spent 29 days on a life support machine in 2020 after getting infected with Covid-19.
PHOTO: Madam Choy Wai Chee

SINGAPORE - Madam Choy Wai Chee, 59, is an office manager and Covid-19 survivor.

Two years ago, Covid-19 really changed my life. I was on a life-support machine for 29 days and almost lost my life.

I have a curved spine which prevents my lungs from expanding well and I am thus less able to fight the disease.

At one point during my dramatic ordeal, my liver, heart and kidneys malfunctioned and I also needed dialysis.

That was in 2020, when my family and I had just returned from a holiday in Europe, and three of us - my daughter, granddaughter and myself - fell ill with the virus.

My condition worsened rapidly and I was hospitalised for four months at the National University Hospital.

I was discharged at the end of July 2020 and went back to work at the end of August. As I slowly regained my strength, I tried to help take care of my grandchildren.

I have four children and two grandchildren. While my daughter had caught the virus at the same time as I did in 2020, my other children caught the virus this year, even though we were all fully vaccinated.

In February, my second son, 27, came down with the virus and was isolated for eight days. Two weeks later, my youngest son, 21, caught the bug and had to be at home for seven days.


Less than two weeks after that, my eldest son, 31, also got infected. Only my husband did not get the virus. We all live together in the same home.

Fortunately, this recent bout of Covid-19 that my sons experienced was much milder compared with what I went through in 2020.

The effects of my Covid-19 experience two years ago continue to linger to this day. I still have some difficulty breathing. I get tired easily. I have to use a ventilation machine at night to help me breathe.

I try to not rely too much on the machine. My breathing is okay when I take short naps, but I need it at night as breathing becomes harder for me. I used this machine while I was in hospital and will need it for the rest of my life.

My doctors had said they would follow up with me for three years before deciding if they would be able to close my case. I will hit the three-year mark at the end of this year.

During my first year of recovery, I could walk only very slowly. I could not breathe if I over-exerted myself as there was not enough oxygen in my body. My breathing is better now, but there is still some difficulty when I get anxious.

My grandson is 16 months old. If I carry him now, I have to let him down after five minutes.

After my close shave with death when I had Covid-19, I cherish life a lot more. Being able to spend time with family has become more precious to me.

I am really looking forward to a cruise to nowhere in June. We booked it on the very day the easing of restrictions was announced this month. It'll definitely be a good getaway for all of us. I will be taking my ventilator with me on the cruise.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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