For a Swift Current resident, the mental impact of his COVID-19 experience was far worse than the physical symptoms he had to deal with.

Clayton Wicks has recovered from his COVID-19 symptoms, but he feels the mental scars of his ordeal will take longer to heal.

“For me, the absolute worst part was the mental part of it, not knowing when you go to bed at night,” he said. “Your chest feels heavy and your brain starts racing.”

This mental anguish during his illness was caused by concern for the well-being of other family members who also contracted the virus. His feelings were amplified by the realization that he was the carrier of the virus who caused the others to fall ill.

“Guilty as hell,” he said about how that made him feel. “Mainly because of all those other things. You don't know, you look at the stats and one in a hundred are dying of it. ... Those are the thoughts that go through your mind.”

He is thankful that everyone in his family are recovering from their infection, but there is still some concern about potential long-term impacts from the COVID-19 virus.

“I guess the question mark is do I or any of my kids have any kind of long-term problem and we just don't know,” he said. “Even now, my lung capacity isn't perfect, that's for sure.”

Wicks and his wife travelled to Saskatoon on Remembrance Day to spend some time with their son and daughter, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren.

He had no symptoms during their visit, but while travelling back to Swift Current on Nov. 13 he started to experience some flu-like symptoms. He decided to self-isolate due to concerns over COVID-19, and he called the 811 Healthline the following day to arrange for a test. 

A test was only available several days later, and he therefore decided to travel to Regina on Nov. 15 to get tested at a drive-thru testing site. He received the result the following day, which indicated he was COVID-19 positive.

“The good news behind that when it comes to the contact tracing was, because I didn't show symptoms until the Friday, they pretty much said that 48 hours prior to that I was probably contagious,” he noted. “So the only people I had been in contact with was my family. That part was good and bad. The good part was that I didn’t spread it amongst a whole bunch of people, but the bad news was I gave it to my family.”

The ages of those who got ill with the virus ranged from four to 63 years. Wicks, his wife, the three younger adults, and one of the children became sick. The other two children, aged eight and 10, did not fall ill.

Fortunately, none of them became seriously ill, but they still had some significant symptoms that varied from loss of taste and smell to headaches, coughing, and fatigue.

“I guess with COVID the biggest worry was the unknown, just not knowing,” he said. “I've talked to the pharmacist about should I be upping my vitamin D or what should I do. They're saying more vitamin D isn't going to hurt you, but nobody really knows. So I did up my vitamin D and who knows if that helped or not. There's all sorts of information out there, but eating a little healthier and taking some vitamins definitely wasn't going to make it worse.”

His own symptoms were fairly mild, and included fatigue as well as loss of taste and smell. He felt there is a cautionary tale in his experience with COVID-19, because it was so similar to when he had flu in previous years.

“If it had been a year where it wasn't COVID and that was a bit of a flu bug, I don't know if I would have missed any work,” he said. “I felt I was well enough to probably come to work, and that's the scary part. I know people hate to do it, but if you're feeling sick, then don't pass it off like I almost did. I get a bit of a flu every year at this time. Get it checked. You're going to miss a couple of days work, but I can't imagine how I'd felt if I got to work and gave it to half a dozen more people who gave it to half a dozen more people who gave it to half a dozen more people before they even knew it.”

He does not know with any certainty where he was exposed to the COVID-19 virus and he does not believe it really matters.

“What does it prove, because if they were like me and showed no symptoms, why wouldn't they be there,” he asked. “Could we have been more careful? Of course, we could. … We just have to be more diligent in doing what we can.”

Wicks posted on his Facebook page about his experience with COVID-19, because he believes the only way to fight this virus is to do it together through actions that can help to reduce its potential spread.

“I wore a mask before when I went grocery shopping,” he said. “I'm going to wear a mask again now, whether it's mandated or not. I'm going to keep doing what I think everybody else should do. I'm going to wash my hands and I'm going to wear my mask.”

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