After more than a month in a hospital in Oaxaca, Mexico, former Yellowknife journalist Jack Danylchuk is showing signs of recovery from COVID-19.
He regained consciousness on Aug. 19 after being hooked up to a ventilator on July 21, according to his daughter, Jacki Danylchuk.
Jacki and her mother Donna Danylchuk were able to call Jack’s room to speak to him recently. Even though Jack cannot converse due to a tracheotomy in his throat, Jacki shared words of reassurance with her father.
“I told him that we love him. I told him he’s not alone. I told him that many people are thinking about him and care about him… I told him everything I could think of,” she said. “I was babbling.”
When they were on the phone with Jack, who’s in his late 70s, they could hear his laboured breathing.
“His breathing is loud,” Jacki said.
On a GoFundMe page she created, Jacki mentioned that her dad was also breathing quickly and his respiration sounded like it required a lot of energy.
Jacki also told her dad how much his friends have supported him via GoFundMe. As of Aug. 25, $15,650 was raised to support Jack.
The medical reports that Jacki has received from Mexico have left her with mixed messages.
“It’s something I’m still not completely clear on — it seems to be changing day to day, depending on who speaks to me,” she said.
When he first regained consciousness, Jack was able to sit up for several hours. However, Jacki just learned that her father has myopathy, or muscle weakness, which is an after-effect of COVID-19.
“Right now, he’s unable to walk, unable sit up. He’s getting physiotherapy and they don’t know when he’s going to be better and when he’s going to be able to walk.” Jacki said. “We were really happy and now we’re a little bit worried again.”
Within a couple of weeks, Jacki will be flying to Oaxaca.
“I’m going to see him in person, and they (the doctors) were going to give me training on how to take care of him, and I’ll have to see what he needs… I’m hoping that when I’m there, I’m going to find a way to have him communicate,” she said. “That’s all thanks to the GoFundMe that I am able to go do that.”
Doctors tell her that Jack can understand both English and Spanish, “so we need to know what he’s thinking and what he wants to say,” she said.
Jacki and the family want to figure out how to get Jack safely back to Canada, but medical staff in Mexico said Jack’s lungs are not strong enough handle a low-oxygen level from a standard passenger flight. Therefore, Jack would have to return to Canada on a medevac.
“I’m afraid that’s out of reach for us,” Jacki said. “It’s hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’re trying to find something that we can afford to bring him home.”
The family still doesn’t know if Jack has insurance.
Although doctors have expressed confidence that he will recover, they are not predicting how long until he’s fully recovered.
“We’re hoping that he can recover quickly from the after-effects and we’re hoping that he gets better so we can fly him home to Canada to rehabilitate,” Jacki said.