By Carlena Knight
For many, February 10 2021 was a regular day, but for one 50-year-old Antiguan the date will be etched into his memory forever as Aldo McCoy became one of the ever-growing number of positive Covid cases in the country.
He experienced something that would impact his life in a way he had not seen coming.
The basketball commentator recalled the exact moment he found out that he had contracted the potentially deadly virus, saying he kind of brushed off the notion, not taking it too seriously as he was still in the best of health.
But an easy ride would not be ahead for the father-of-one who had arrived at the then-Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC).
“I kind of had an inclination in a sense. I had a little cold and went to the Clare Hall clinic, and after taking the test a few days later, the doctor called and confirmed I had Covid.
“I really didn’t think of it as a big deal, but the ambulance came for me and I arrived on February 10. I can remember a few days after that, but when I was cognisant again, it was April,” McCoy revealed.
He explained that when he woke up, he began fussing with his wife, Lisa, about his phone and it was then that she told him how long it had been.
“I asked her, what do you mean it’s April? I just came in here in February. But when they pointed it out to me, I said woah, this thing is serious,” he said.
His condition had in fact deteriorated significantly which resulted in him being placed on ventilator support.
During that time, McCoy was in and out of consciousness and suffered other complications including pneumonia and heart failure.
As the Villa/Point native revealed, “my heart stopped beating two or three times”.
“You thank God for small mercies. It’s a miracle that I am here. I have been told that it was three or so times that I went under. You know one nurse told me that my heart had stopped beating for like nine seconds at one interval, and they thought I was gone but they didn’t give up. My wife didn’t give up, my son didn’t give up, my family didn’t give up,” McCoy added.
He revealed that it was a very lonely and depressing ordeal for him especially after testing negative and being placed on the ward – a place where he spent most of his time, and where he witnessed many of his roommates pass away.
“Those nights were long and lonely, especially when I was cognisant. I couldn’t wait until visiting time. I saw persons in the room next to me, persons all over, even in the ICU, and then the next day or two days after, they were gone and I would say to myself why am I here, but clearly there are other chapters left to be written and I am just waiting on the Lord to show what the vision is,” he said.
McCoy mentioned that, while in the ICU, it was his mental toughness that kept him going as he had even started taking a few steps and sitting up, despite doctor’s orders to rest.
“I told myself I have to push through because I have to overcome,” he said.
That mantra stuck with him as he became just the third person in Antigua and Barbuda then to survive the coronavirus after being on ventilator support.
He joined two other survivors — Keith Dover and Dr Raymond Daoud — who had spent months in the hospital last year battling Covid-19.
His road to recovery has however been a tough one thus far, as he has had to undergo multiple surgeries to repair some complications in his throat.
He also suffers with a bedsore on his back, three inches wide and an inch and half deep.
He explained that since that surgery, his trachea has gotten smaller and it now limits his breathing, which has affected his state of mind as he wants to be up and about, exercising at a certain intensity, but cannot.
That condition, he explained, is however not life-threatening at this point, but if it shrinks any further it could be.
There were other losses that the former banker endured as well.
During his time in hospital his contract at his job ended, leaving him unemployed up to now.
“That is the roughest part of my existence now because from since February ‘til now I have been unemployed. I have not worked since then. I have not gotten a pay cheque since then, so it is kind of tough. I am actually looking for employment, I have to try and find something to do because there are bills to be paid,” he shared.
Nevertheless, he remains positive as he has surpassed his first goal of regaining 60 percent of his normal bodily functions.
“I have gotten back my strength, not fully, but I can walk on my own. I can do everything on my own which was a struggle before. Mentally, I think I am there, because I still have the mental capacity to do certain things like how I used to.
“My body has changed. I lost over 70 pounds and it’s crazy when I woke up and I realised, you know, I still feel like I can do this and that, but your body is telling you like, hey, you don’t have that kind of strength.
“I didn’t even have strength to turn over so I have to take it easy, but I am a strong guy mentally, so I think, I am there, but I know there are some things physically that I still can’t do as yet,” McCoy declared.
It is however his support from his family, friends and inner circle that has kept him motivated throughout his new normal.
McCoy thanked his wife, Lisa, his siblings, Vince and Miguel McCoy, and Olena Knight and brother-in-law, Carl ‘Bowlie’ Knight, for their sacrifices, prayers and encouragement.
He also thanked the medical staff at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre for their round-the-clock care as well.
The Covid-19 survivor is now pleading with members of the public to take his situation as a lesson to abide by the various Covid-19 protocols.
“I really hope that my story will influence others to abide by the protocols. This is not easy. It is a beast.
“I know it sounds repetitive, but when I was hospitalised, we got the first vaccine, AstraZeneca. Now that we have options, we need to definitely take one of them because it safeguards you as an individual, your family, your friends, your loved ones, because I am telling you, my wife couldn’t see me for over a month because I had Covid while I was still at the hospital, while I was there in the ICU and she could not see me.
“We have to definitely get inoculated. We have to get vaccinated, people. It is going to save your life. I do not wish this on anyone at all. I thought I was just going in for a regular routine, just spend a couple of days, next thing, I spent 96 days in the hospital and that’s crazy,” he warned.