We Use Oxygen for the Littlest of Things

Derrick Tapusoa and his wife Melissa enjoying life to the fullest pre-Covid.

“Having COVID was a horrible experience. I’m young, in my 30’s and completely
healthy without any underlying conditions. When I contracted the disease in
January, before vaccines were readily available, I had no idea I would have so
much trouble breathing,” said Derrick Tapusoa, Alamosa, Colorado. Tapusoa is
originally from New Zealand, a country that had very little outbreak due to
implementing precautions early on. “My parents back home have been fine and
despite the precautions New Zealand is taking, they jumped at the chance to get
vaccinated.” Tapusoa wonders if he ends up getting another coronavirus, what
toll it might take on him and his family, so he eagerly signed up for the vaccine as
soon as he was eligible. “It happened overnight. I just woke up one day feeling
miserable. I tested positive for COVID, then after 2 weeks in bed, it hit me. My
father-in-law drove me to the hospital and I was in the ICU at the Alamosa
hospital for a week.” Over those 3 weeks, Tapusoa lost 40 lbs. He was off work for
months while he recovered. “I couldn’t have a conversation with my wife, I wasn’t
able to laugh with my kids, I couldn’t sing along to the radio. It’s amazing how
much oxygen we use to do the smallest of activities. My lungs still aren’t 100%”.
Tapusoa considers himself lucky to have survived COVID. He appreciates his
health more than ever. Months later he still isn’t completely off oxygen. He warns
others, don’t underestimate this illness. Get the vaccine, no matter what age you
are, no matter how healthy you are, no matter if you’ve had COVID. “It’s not a
game. You don’t play with COVID. I look forward to the time when I won’t have to
hook up to the oxygen machine at night.” Tapusoa knows what it’s like to not be
able to take a deep breath, and he hopes it’s an experience everyone else can
avoid.