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Alberta man who survived COVID-19, 39 days on a ventilator, speaks out –



Nearly 40 days on a ventilator. A tracheotomy. Fifty pounds lost. Countless hours of physiotherapy.

And now, PTSD and flashbacks.

COVID-19 ravaged Paul Hemsing’s body and left him with deep physical and emotional scars.

“Frightening, exhausting, scary,” he recalled, struggling to put words to his trauma. “The fear of whether you were going to survive or not or whether you are going to see your loved ones again.”

Hemsing — who owns a hair salon in Medicine Hat, Alta., with his husband — went to the gym three or four times a week and was otherwise healthy. He scrambled to get his vaccination the first day his age group became eligible in April.

But COVID-19 found him anyway. 

Hemsing, 51, contracted the virus in May before he could get his second shot. He was rushed to hospital — with dangerously low oxygen levels — nine days after testing positive and was quickly admitted to intensive care.

“I was unresponsive.… They said that I was in such severe shock that I would have passed away.… I was intubated within hours.”

Paul Hemsing says he missed milestones while he was hospitalized, including the high school graduation of his son, who stands beside him here. (Supplied by Paul Hemsing )

That was the beginning of the nightmare. Hemsing was kept alive in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator for 39 days — the longest any COVID-19 patient has been intubated at the Medicine Hat hospital.

The average ICU stay for a COVID-19 patient in Alberta is 10 to 12 days.

‘I could see the terror in her eyes”

At first, Hemsing had no memories of his time in intensive care.

But there are now dark flashbacks.

At one point, doctors woke Hemsing from the coma as they tried — unsuccessfully — to take him off the ventilator. His 22-year-old daughter was watching anxiously from behind a glass wall.

She recently showed him a photo she snapped at that moment inside the ICU.

Paul Hemsing still has a scar from the tracheotomy the ICU team performed on him. (Supplied by Paul Hemsing)

“Instantly, the memory of that came back to me.… I remember her waving and smiling. And I could see that her smile was fake and I could see terror in her eyes,” he said.

He saw his husband, Michael, there, too.

“My daughter said, you just kept on mouthing over and over again, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’ Because I thought I was going to die.”

Resuscitated twice

Hemsing’s long ICU stay was riddled with complications.

He went into cardiac arrest twice, requiring resuscitation.

It took doctors several attempts to bring him out of his coma and take him off the ventilator.

“You panic. I tried to grab and pull the tube out of my throat,” he recalled.

And the ICU team performed a tracheotomy — a common practice for patients who have been on a ventilator for prolonged periods.

The scar on his neck is a constant reminder 

Scary times emerging from the fog of sedation

Once doctors were able to take Hemsing off the ventilator, It took about five days for him to emerge from the fog of sedation.

“You experience very severe hallucinations. That was a really mentally scary time because you were foggy and groggy and you were seeing snakes and spiders. I was very panicked.”

The hallucinations eventually waned and he became more aware of his surroundings.

“That was probably the scariest time because I couldn’t use my arms or my legs. I had lost almost 50 pounds of muscle mass. My vision had changed. Everything was blurry,” he said.

“I couldn’t talk because I had a tracheotomy. I couldn’t use my hands to write or ask for anything. So the only way I could communicate was yes or no with my head.”

At the same time, he experienced intense pain from a large pressure wound he developed while in the coma.

“I had an eight-inch long, three-inch wide, 2½-inch deep pressure wound on my butt. Like a bed sore … I couldn’t sit in a wheelchair I was in such agony, even with the pain meds.”

Plastic surgeons operated three times to repair the wound, which at one point became gangrenous.

“It’s actually only been two weeks now since it has finally closed and left me with a forever, major scar going from the top of my waist to the bottom of my butt.” 

His recovery involved weeks of intense physiotherapy to build enough strength to stand, walk and regain the use of his arms.

Sleep was elusive. “I remember thinking that if I fell asleep I might die.… You were scared to close your eyes.”

There were milestones missed while he was hospitalized, including his son’s high school graduation.

‘It’s not like you go home and you’re better’

Hemsing, who nurses and doctors nicknamed  “Miracle” because he wasn’t expected to survive, has been home now for two months. But he is not the same.

“[At first] I couldn’t do anything, couldn’t hold anything, couldn’t cut a tomato or lettuce, couldn’t prepare a meal, couldn’t play the piano hardly at all. It was a lot of time in bed,” he said.

“I … couldn’t stop crying. It was very dark because your whole life changes. You lose your entire life.”

He still struggles with PTSD brought on by the traumatic time in the ICU. He is plagued by neuropathy, a condition causing numbness, pain and tingling in his hands, feet and tongue. And he can only work for a few hours a day.

A photo Paul Hemsing’s daughter took of him while he was in hospital with COVID-19. (Supplied by Paul Hemsing)

“When you get sick with this, it’s not like you go home and you’re better. You go home and you heal for months and months and months,” he said. 

Hemsing, who is now running for Medicine Hat city council, wants unimmunized Albertans to know the terrifying details of his ordeal.

He wasn’t yet eligible for his second shot when he fell ill but with the vaccine widely available he’s urging people who haven’t yet had their shots to do it.

“I’m 100 per cent hoping I can help another one person even, that they won’t have to go through this. And if you’re fully immunized … you won’t have to go through what I did.”

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Green activist hid in Louvre loos before gatecrashing Louis Vuitton’s show



Marie Cohuet hid in a lavatory inside the Louvre art museum for over two hours, plotting her gatecrashing of Louis Vuitton fashion show in protest at the environmental damage that activists say is caused by the fashion industry.

After edging closer to the show’s entrance as the event neared, Cohuet saw her chance when staff were distracted by the glitzy arrival of actress Catherine Deneuve.

Talking animatedly into her phone, Cohuet pretended to be from the organising team and walked in.

She bided her time until the catwalk parade began to a soundtrack of thunderous organ music and church bells, at which point she unfurled her banner and joined the procession of models under a chandelier-lit runway.

“It was a little bit like taking back power,” the 26-year-old environmental campaigner, a member of the Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth) group, told Reuters of the seconds before she was bundled to the floor by Louis Vuitton’s security agents.

Her banner was scrawled with the slogan “overconsumption = extinction”.

Cohuet said she had taken a stand on Oct. 5 against a fashion industry that fell short on its promises to act against climate change and pushed brands to renew collections faster, and produce more for less cost.

She accused LVMH of having pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions but excluding its sub-contractors from its calculations.

Asked by Reuters to comment, LVMH said its 2030 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than half, announced in April, included those of subcontractors.

Critics say that fast fashion, which replicates catwalk trends and high-fashion designs at breakneck speed, is wasteful, exploits low-paid workers and pollutes the environment, including through intensive use of pesticides to grow cotton.

On the runway, Cohuet’s heart was in her stomach as she stared ahead and passed the gazes of cinema stars, LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault and members of his clan.

“Sometimes an act of civil disobedience is needed, sometimes we need to challenge head-on those who are screwing the planet today, those who are trampling on human rights and social rights,” Cohuet said.

As a teenager at home, she expressed her indignation at the failure of global leaders to act on climate change. It had only been in the past few years that she joined protests, organised petitions and lobbied lawmakers.

Cohuet said she avoided frivolous clothing purchases and air travel but that there was only so much impact an individual could make. Real change must come from governments and leaders of big business, she continued.

Even so, Cohuet holds little hope for meaningful progress at this month’s United Nations COP26  climate change conference summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

“Nice promises get made on paper but then things tend to falter and states fail to turn them into concrete actions,” she said.


(Additional reporting by Mimosa Spencer; writing by Richard Lough; editing by Mark Heinricjh)

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Chinese institutions to receive 2nd batch of lunar samples for research – ecns



China has announced a list of research institutions that are to receive the second batch of lunar samples brought back by its Chang’e-5 mission.

The newly distributed samples, weighing about 17.9 grams, will be divided into 51 lots and handed over to scientists from 17 research institutions, according to a notice issued by the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

Sixteen institutions that are eligible to study the second batch of lunar samples are from the mainland, including Peking University, Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Macau University of Science and Technology is also qualified for using the lunar sample.

According to the notice, the China National Space Administration established a selection commission for the distribution of the samples earlier this month.

The Chang’e-5 probe returned to Earth on Dec. 17, 2020, having retrieved a total of 1,731 grams of lunar samples, mainly rocks and soil from the moon’s surface.

China delivered the first batch of the lunar samples, weighing about 17 grams, to 13 institutions in July.

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SpaceX's SN20 Starship prototype completes its first static fire test – Yahoo Movies Canada



SpaceX has taken a major step towards sending the Starship to orbit. On Thursday night, the private space corporation has conducted the SN20 Starship prototype’s first static fire test as part of its preparation for the spacecraft’s launch. According to Space, the SN20 is currently outfitted with two Raptor engines: A standard “sea-level” Raptor and a vacuum version designed to operate in space. At 8:16PM Eastern time on Thursday, the company fired the latter. SpaceX then revealed on Twitter that it was the first ever firing of a Raptor vacuum engine integrated onto a Starship.

Around an hour after that, the SN20 lit up yet again in a second static fire test that may have involved both Raptor engines. The SN20 will eventually have six Raptors — three standard and three vacuum — and will be the first prototype to attempt an orbital launch. A Starship launch system is comprised of the Starship spacecraft itself and a massive first-stage booster called the Super Heavy. Both are designed to be reusable and to carry large payloads for trips to low and higher Earth orbits. It can also eventually be used for longer trips to the Moon and to Mars. 

SpaceX doesn’t have a date for the SN20 test flight yet, but the plan is to launch the vehicle with the Super Heavy known as Booster 4 from the company’s Boca Chica site. The booster will splash down in the Gulf of Mexico, while the SN20 will continue its journey towards orbit. 

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