Over the Christmas holidays, two woman hospitalized with serious cases of COVID-19 struck up an improbable friendship.
Colleen Kelly, 38, and Dorothy Huckle, 87, shared the same room in Windsor, Ont., while recovering from the virus.
“Colleen and I — she told me she was only 38, but we just really hit it off,” said Huckle.
“We laughed a lot in the hospital with that, I mean, even though we didn’t feel very good, we really talked to each other.”
Huckle started feeling unwell in mid-December of 2020, and eventually called for an ambulance after she got worse. She was admitted to Windsor Regional Hospital and tested positive for COVID-19.
Kelly, who had already been admitted and was hooked up to an oxygen machine, said she was close to needing a ventilator.
But late one night, in rolled in her new roommate.
It was so cool to see her in a healthy state and happy, and she’s so fancy — her nails are done, and her hair is done and her jewelry is on.– Colleen Kelly, 38, on her friend Dorothy Huckle
“It was late, late at night, so I didn’t get to talk to her in the morning,” said Kelly, co-owner of Average Joe’s Sports Bar in Windsor.
“In the morning, I just kind of peeked around the curtain to see who was there and was like, ‘Hi.’ And that was it. We just talked all day.”
Different stories, same heart
Huckle said she was in serious pain after having shingles, a condition that was complicated by COVID-19, and Kelly kept her busy and laughing. While sharing a room, neither was permitted visitors due to safety protocols.
“My kids couldn’t come, you know, they couldn’t come and see me,” said Huckle.
But Kelly knew what to do.
“Her daughter’s name and contact were on the white board that’s in the hospital,” she said. “I text messaged her daughter and sent her a Christmas picture of us to let her know that mom is OK.”
Despite their mutual fears, the two helped care for each other and keep each other’s spirits up.
“I would say funny things that she laughed at … she was helping me to go to the bathroom because, you know, we had good care, but they couldn’t take care of everybody all at once and I couldn’t get out of bed by myself.”
Kelly left hospital just after Christmas, and Huckle was discharged two days later.
Kelly promised Huckle the two would reunite when it was safe to do so, and that happened this week. Both are also now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Huckle’s three daughters and Kelly met for a meal in Sandwich Town on Wednesday.
“She bought me beautiful flowers. You should see them. They’re just beautiful,” said Huckle. “She kept hugging me and she’s just really a really a nice person.”
Her old roommate was happy to finally meet Huckle’s daughters and see her friend in better shape.
“It was so cool to see her in a healthy state and happy, and she’s so fancy — her nails are done, and her hair is done and her jewelry is on,” said Kelly.
“For me, she was calming because again, not ever having been in the hospital before, I didn’t really know what to expect. The staff was fabulous, but it was just really good company. She was just funny.”
Huckle and Kelly have another reunion planned for December, when Huckle turns 88.
Until then, Kelly plans to continue calling her every other Saturday afternoon to stay in touch.