COVID-19: A Liveryman's personal experience.

Living with Covid19 (C19)…….
At the time of writing this I find myself 22 days with C19 symptoms. The first signs of this virus in the household were with my wife Elaine. Elaine works for one of the major banks. As soon as
she began to show signs of having the virus then isolation was the key word.

After a full week and her condition deteriorating we decided to contact NHS 111. It was still fairly early in the outbreak so the only questions they asked were, ‘ have you recently returned from a Country with a known outbreak’ and ‘have you been in contact with anyone known to have the virus’. The first was a definite no, the second was how can we possibly know the answer.

The outcome of this call was to ‘contact your GP’. The GP was contacted and she was told to attend the morning surgery for a consultation. My wife, whom I believe has a lot of common
sense, managed to distance herself from the other patients. Following the consultation she was asked to withdraw from the surgery to the car park where her GP informed her that he believed she had C19. He asked for her to go home and contact NHS111 for a test.

NHS111 were duly contacted and the same two questions were asked. So therefore NO test.
Elaine continued with self treatment, rest, paracetamol and plenty of water. I have never seen my wife in such a poor condition and it was difficult at times to witness her ‘suffering’ in this way. At this time I was not showing any signs of C19 so NHS111 advice for me was to continue as normal. (It was still early days and had not been classified as a pandemic).

After two and a half weeks of self isolation Elaine was fit enough to return to work.
It was about this time I first started to show symptoms of C19. Apparently there is an incubation period of approximately five days before these appear. During the first week it was mainly fatigue and a very dry mouth followed by a headache. At this stage it was bearable.
Paracetamol, rest and plenty of water was the order of the day. I was in that zone of the 80% that only got mild infections.

The first week came and went, I believed I was on the mend. I was wrong. During this second phase I started to get the associated fever, shortness of breath, myalgia/arthralgia, headache and chills. My sense of taste and smell deteriorated, I could not keep warm no matter what I wore.

At the begining of my third week I once again believed I was on the mend. I was wrong. Within two days I had not only gone back a few steps I was markedly worse. The headache got worse, the fatigue was totally undescribable.I just did not care what was happening around me. I did not want to talk to anyone and nothing mattered. The shortness of breath was in my wifes words ‘extremely worrying’.

It is suggested at this time, fourteen days in, that the majority of people are now recovering. My body had decided to take a different path. I have since found out that also at this stage those who have not recovered are at the point of hospitalisation. 13.8% become severe and develop severe diseases including pneumonia and shortness of breath. 4.7% are critical, this can include respiratory failure, septic shock, and multi-organ failure. 1-2% do not return from the hospital.

My breathing was becoming very shallow, my headache was getting worse. Elaine finally ignored my protestations and phoned NHS111. I, being the patient, had to answer the set questions from the very patient operator. Because I was having trouble breathing it appeared from my perspective to be a long call. The outcome of this telephone consultation was a second follow up call within twenty minutes. I had lost all sense of time but I believe it was not long before the second call came. I am unaware of this second person's status but I assume they were more senior than the initial NHS111 operator. The questions were more in depth and more emphasis was put on my lack of breath, pains in my back/chest and other associated organs. The decision at the end of this was for me to continue with the maximum daily dose of paracetamol, plenty of water and obviously rest, which I found was the only thing I could cope with at the time. If my condition deteriorated any further , i.e. pains in my left arm, jaw, chest and a couple of others that I have since forgotten, then it was to be a call to 999 and inform them I had C19 symptoms. The last information was so that the paramedics could suitably attire themselves before attending.

Day fifteen, sixteen and seventeen came and went……. fortunately. Because of my lack of appetite during these few short weeks my weight dropped by a stone, that is 6.4kg in new money. Around day eighteen I began to feel more human and by day twenty I was probably at what was the end of the infection. NHS England figures suggest that I was in the age category of 39.6% of deaths by age.

I am no way suggesting that my condition was anywhere as bad as the figures state but it is the not knowing what that final tipping point could have been. I feel extremely fortunate that I now have the energy and wherewithal to sit and write this down.

To all my peers and colleagues out there. Please take care. Follow the government mantra on saving lives. It may not be you but it could be someone very dear to you that succumbs to Covid19.

Stay safe.
Bob Bryant

(figures/stats NHS England)