Before coming down with COVID-19, Jack Edge of Dublin, Ireland was a perfectly healthy 17-year-old. Still, he was unprepared for the destructive toll the illness would take on his body, even months after the fact. As the teen works to regain his health — and his ability to walk — he has a message for other young people: take the virus seriously.
Edge first began showing symptoms of the disease on April 15. Over the next five days, the teen’s condition worsened until his parents took him to Tallaght University Hospital.
It didn’t take long for Edge’s condition to deteriorate further. “Within 12 hours of being in the hospital, my mum came in to see me and I was asleep,” he said. “It was really late at night and I don’t remember this at all, and the nurse said to her, who was watching over me, ‘We’re going to have to take him into ICU.'”
“Within a few hours, I was put on a ventilator because I couldn’t breath properly,” Edge told RTE news.
Doctors kept Edge on the ventilator for a further 12 days, during which time his parents were unable to visit him.
“While I was on the ventilator the nurses were able to FaceTime my parents,” Edge said. “I don’t remember this, but they have one or two pictures of me with the tube down my throat. And that was the only time they could see me.”
The Struggle Continued…
Eventually, Edge’s condition improved and doctors transferred him out of the ICU — but his struggles were far from over.
“I didn’t sleep for three days. Not by choice, I literally couldn’t,” Edge said of his time in a high dependency unit. “Every time I closed my eyes, it was just dizziness and loads of colors, and I felt like I was falling over. So I had to literally stay in the bed for 72 hours looking at a wall.”
Finally, on May 13, Edge left the hospital. However, nearly unbearable pain brought him back 15 days later.
Doctors told the teen that he had likely experienced nerve damage during his battle with the disease.
“There’s no doubt about it, I basically have to learn how to walk again,” said Edge, who now uses crutches to get around. “I do two and a half hours of physio every day, depending on how much energy I have.”
The ordeal has also left Edge reliant on several medications in addition to meds he already takes for anxiety. “I’m taking about ten tablets every 12 hours,” he said. “So that’s about 18-20 every day to heal my nerves, for my anxiety and for the actual pain itself.”
In mid-September, Edge found himself in the hospital once again, this time for severe chest pain and breathing difficulty.
“It’s all because of COVID-19. This is proving to be a very, very long road to recovery,” said Edge.
The teen now says his experiences have motivated him to help other young people understand the very real dangers of the disease.
“My main message for young people is just do the right thing. Wear a mask and socially distance,” he said. “Do it for you. Do it for your friends. Do it so your elderly loved ones can be safe and don’t get sick. Do it so all our lives can return to normal.”
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