For all the young people reading this article, I’d like to start with a question: where do you expect to be at the age of 51? That’s 20 years from now for me. 20 years from now, I personally hope to be happy, active, healthy and doing all of the things I enjoy now. But unfortunately for 51-year-old Ontario citizen Sean Cunnington, his life has been cut short by coronavirus.
Sean was a salesman, musician, and father of three children. Sean suffered from a form of chronic leukemia, putting him at higher risk than most for complications from COVID-19. But generally speaking, he was active and healthy. He didn’t rely on any medications. On March 4th, he began developing flu-like symptoms. On March 6th, he was urged by his wife to go to the hospital. On March 18th, he passed away.
Sean’s wife, Teri Cunnington, who is in self-isolation until March 25th, has spoken out about the loss of her husband and what she thinks the public should be doing to prevent unnecessary loss of life.
“I think that people aren’t taking this seriously enough,” Teri told CTV News.
Two days after Sean’s initial symptoms, he went to the hospital at the request of his wife. Initially, he was denied a test for coronavirus because, at the time, he didn’t fit the criteria for a test. In Ontario, you had to have been to a foreign country with COVID-19 cases in order to be tested.
“It was basically dismissed because he had not traveled anywhere. He’s not been out of Ontario, he’s not really been out of southern Ontario,” Teri said.
Sean was discharged from the hospital with a prescription for antibiotics, but his condition did not improve. Five days later, he was re-admitted to a hospital where he was tested for COVID-19.
Sean was put on oxygen and placed in a negative pressure room, isolated from others, while he awaited the results of the test. Eventually, he would be intubated and placed on a respirator to help his breathing.
“He just could not breathe. He could not get a deep breath. Before he was intubated he was taking these very short, little breaths and trying to get a big breath, and that was while being on oxygen,” Teri said.
“They had to keep turning the amount of oxygen that Sean was getting from the ventilator … and then they couldn’t turn the machine up anymore,” she said.
Before he passed, Sean told his wife that he didn’t want to die. At that time, his lungs were failing due to the virus.
“I think he was really scared and I guess obviously he was scared enough that that’s what he said to me,” she said.
She replied: “Don’t die, our story’s not over yet.”
Unfortunately, on Wednesday, March 18th, he did pass. Health officials aren’t sure where Sean initially came in contact with the virus. Because he didn’t travel anywhere in the weeks prior to becoming sick, he likely acquired it through community spreading, where someone is ill, possibly asymptomatic, and still going about their normal business.
“He was the most caring, most loving genuine person. He was my everything,” Teri said. Still in self-isolation, Teri has been unable to plan a memorial service, but she says she feels fine.
“Sean has an incredible number of people who care about him and love him, and he has touched so many people,” Teri said.
Stay indoors and heed the experts’ warnings
Teri has only one request of the general public: stay indoors and listen to what the experts are telling you.
“And everybody just needs to be safe out there. Everybody just needs to be mindful of what they’re doing. Stay home, stay home — it’s not such a big deal,” she said.
So to everyone reading, especially younger people who want to live their best lives, ask yourselves where you want to be at the age of 51, or 61, or 71? Still alive? Still kickin’? Still having a great life? Many people currently that age want the same.
Your choice to stay home, wash your hands, cough or sneeze into your elbow, socially distance yourself, and especially self-isolate if you feel sick could mean the difference between life and death for older, higher-risk people.
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