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While most people survive COVID-19, developing a severe bout of the virus feels like you are breathing through a straw.

While laying on a bed at the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility for 16 days, Brent Texiera fell unconscious several times due to a lack of oxygen, despite having an oxygen mask on his face.

Alive to share his story on Aakash Vani 106.5 FM Morning Panchayat yesterday, the Petit Valley resident warned that COVID-19 could be one of the worst trauma someone could suffer.

“It is the most horrible feeling. It feels like you are drowning. It is like trying to breathe through a straw. That is the amount of oxygen you get in your lungs, so you need to be mentally able to deal with this thing. You have to consciously breathe in and out. Your normal breathing action is not enough to keep you alive,” Texiera said.

He describes vaccination as a bulletproof vest. It does not prevent you from getting shot but decreases your chances significantly.

Moving becomes a mighty task as just turning on a bed could leave you gasping for breath. For the first five days in the hospital, Texiera’s blood oxygen saturation level failed to reach 80, and his chance of survival was slim.

At 59, Texiera was healthy. He ate well and ran six kilometres several times a week.

But that did not stop him from contracting COVID-19 in October 2020, when vaccines were not yet available.

His first indicator was he could not smell anything, a tell-tale sign. He went to the St James Medical Complex, where a nurse questioned his symptoms.

However, she told him that he did not have COVID-19 and sent him home. Unsatisfied, he asked to speak to the doctor, who screened him again and came to the same conclusion.Convinced he had COVID-19, Texiera went to the private doctor who did a chest x-ray and diagnosed him with COVID-19, despite not doing a confirmatory test.

He said people worry about getting poor treatment at public health institutions, so they sometimes choose to treat themselves at home. But when COVID-19 rattles your lungs, you have little choice.

“I tried to fight this thing off at home, but I was not successful at that, so I had to end up in the hospital. The symptoms I got were quite mild. Mild headache, so take two Panadol, and it went away. The fever, you take two Panadol, and it goes away, so it was never something I felt was getting away from me. Everything was manageable.”

Honey, lime, vapour rub were his ammunition against the virus. But a week into home treatment, he began struggling to breathe.

“I was tested after I arrived at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital in an ambulance, and I was positive,” he said.

He describes the care at the Couva Hospital as fantastic and says the doctors, nurses and attendants are wonderful. More than a year later, he is vaccinated and is encouraging people that it is one of the best prevention against dying from COVID-19.