Our Director Robert Adams tell his own story about his experience with the coronavirus.
I’m a 39-year-old healthy man with no underlying health conditions. I train 3 times a week, two bootcamp sessions and one session with a personal trainer.
On Monday 15 March 2020, I was in work and felt my both legs aching. I continued to work for another day putting it to the back of my mind. I put this down to socialising and drinking with friends over the weekend. By Wednesday things had changed! The ache in just my legs became actual pain and the pain became shivers and sweats, I was struggling to sleep.
I isolated myself from my wife, 4-year-old daughter and my 9-month-old baby daughter immediately. Thursday and Friday, I was still aching and in pain so I started to take paracetamol and drank plenty of fluids. The weekend approached and I hadn’t slept since the Wednesday, I felt myself getting worse and more anxious worrying mainly about not sleeping and the aches and pains that I was suffering with. The sleepless nights carried on and, on the Sunday, I was feeling weak and felt that’s progressively things were getting worse. I decided to call an ambulance. When the medics arrived, they assessed me, checked my temperature which was under 38C and they advised me to stay at home and to remain in self-isolation, take paracetamol and plenty of fluids. They advised me that the hospital was full of coronavirus cases and to keep myself home in isolation. I hoped this would be the end of it.
Monday and Tuesday still no change, but I started to develop a dry cough which was bringing up clear white mucus. I continued to self-isolate and take paracetamols. I was still unable to sleep and I also lost my appetite. Tuesday was upon me and my symptoms continued and I felt that it was best for me to call the ambulance for a second time. Within 30 minutes the medic arrived, she assessed me, took my temperature and assessed my chest. The medic left the room and I overheard her talking to my wife, she advised her that she was going to contact my GP to prescribe antibiotics, she was unsure whether it was a bacterial infection or highly likely to be coronavirus. However, she said that I’d deteriorated from the medics notes from Sunday.
Throughout Tuesday my symptoms were getting worse even with the start of my antibiotics, I dreaded the nights with not being able to sleep. Wednesday continued to be the same, but I was feeling nausea, fatigue and felt cold/hot shivers and difficulty breathing. It was Thursday and things weren’t getting better and I knew I had to get help. My symptoms were deteriorating and I was unable to breath. The medics arrived, assessed me and checked my temperature, at this point my temperature was 38.9C. My breathing worsened, I was coughing up clear white mucus and blood. The medics confirmed that my stats levels were all over the place, I was put straight on oxygen and they put an IV into my hand in preparation. I looked down at my hand and then at the medic and asked what are you doing? I need to stay home because coronavirus cases are in the hospital and I need to stay home and continue to self-isolate. The medics response was, this is your 3rd call out for an emergency team, you are in a very bad way and your deteriorating and you don’t have a choice you have to go to the hospital. The medics stretched me out of my room and down the stairs of my house in a special chair and I was on oxygen, they stripped me of any clothing and blankets, I was in a panic and didn’t want to leave my wife and children. The medics got me into the ambulance and I can remember the one medic saying turn on up the air conditioning to full, open all the windows and we need to get to the hospital immediately. The medics were fantastic, they went back to reassure my wife, and provided her with a mask and gloves and advised her to bleach and deep clean the whole room that I was isolating in and if I had been anywhere else in the house.
Upon arrival to A&E I was seen to immediately, I remember the doctors and nurses being in high protective clothing and having a team of people around me. I was kept on oxygen and I was told a chest x-ray needed to be taken straight away. A machine came to the bed, the x-ray was taken and within 10 minutes it was confirmed that I had pneumonia and pleurisy. I was then tested for coronavirus; blood samples were taken from my wrist to give an accurate measurement of the oxygen within my blood and I was put on antibiotics immediately through the drip IV. At this point they said if my oxygen levels continue to deteriorate, I might need to be moved to assisted breathing which really frightened me. I was told I would be admitted to a ward where there were pending coronavirus cases before even finding the outcome of my results, which they said would take from 12-24 hours.
During my first night my oxygen levels deteriorated, again they said about intervening and taking me to ICU and I was determined to stay on oxygen which was at 60%, again I was struggling sleeping, I was worried and extremely anxious. Friday morning the consultant from serious infectious diseases arrived and told me that it was clearly coronavirus and I was at the top of the virus which sees the deterioration point turn into pneumonia and I was being monitored hourly. The aches and pains were easing off but my lungs and breathing were really struggling. My wife and family were petrified, they couldn’t visit me due to a zero visitors’ policy. I kept asking every nurse that came into the room for help to prescribe me something to sleep or even an eye mask to try and sleep which would make me less anxious. The doctors couldn’t prescribe me anything as they wanted to make sure that I wasn’t drowsy in case they had to intervene. I kept asking throughout the afternoon because the nights were so horrible with the oxygen coming through the mask with small amounts of water making my mouth cool and made a constant loud noise which all of this together was making it impossible to even try and sleep. Later on in the afternoon, I had a knock on the door and I couldn’t believe it when the nurse said here you go I got you this, I looked down on the bed and it was a sleeping mask with ear plugs, I couldn’t thank her enough and it changed my nights moving forward. This was one small act of kindness that made such a difference to me and for which I am so grateful. By 5pm my results were back and I tested negative for coronavirus which the consultants found hard to believe. They told me that the tests were wrong and were a positive negative and I was then tested again straight away. My breathing didn’t change, my oxygen levels in my blood were still very low and they continued to monitor me through an ECG machine.
The following morning which was Saturday, I woke up, I knew that had slept. The nurse came in and said to try and wash in which I said yes and attempted to move from the bed but unfortunately, I was unable to move as my body just wouldn’t allow it. By lunchtime I met the consultant again and he informed me that I definitely had coronavirus. I said I had the test results back which came back negative and the consultant said that they were wrong, you definitely have coronavirus. I was shocked to hear the test was ineffective! Later that afternoon, the second test results came back again negative but they were still adamant that I had coronavirus from all of my symptoms. The consultant then said that I would be moving, I asked where to which he replied to the coronavirus floor which surprised me. I said I haven’t got coronavirus from the test results but he said you have. I informed them I was not happy moving to a confirmed coronavirus ward but he was adamant I was positive. I said I would prefer to be separated and he said he would move me to the Ebola room, being isolated away with two separate doors and a separate ventilation system. Upon moving to the new room, I changed beds which raised alarm bells as my oxygen levels dropped very fast and the doctor called the intensive care team which petrified me. I said to the nurse what’s going on, they said my oxygen levels were too low, I told them I’ve just moved beds and I need to get back on the oxygen immediately. Everything calmed down and my oxygen levels were stable albeit at 50% oxygen.
The following day my condition was unchanged, my oxygen levels remained stable and they slowly reduced my oxygen levels to 30% which was a very positive sign. I felt that I could be at last making progress!!Unfortunately as is common with this virus things changed again and on Tuesday during the early hours in the morning my oxygen levels reduced fast, doctors and nurses arrived early in the morning extremely worried as they couldn’t work out why a fit, health 39 year old was having this happen to them. They then again took blood from my wrist to measure against the accuracy of the machine with my bloods which came back the same. I was scared that they were going to call intensive care and I asked them please just treat me for my pneumonia and not coronavirus. They increased my oxygen levels again to 60% and my oxygen levels increased to the required level, again I was on hourly monitoring. By Wednesday morning the doctor arrived and said we can’t work out why this is happening to you. I am 39 years old, fit and healthy with no underlying health conditions. The consultant confirmed that I would be having a CT scan later that afternoon to check my lungs and heart to see if there was any blood clot, fluid on the lungs or scarring on the lungs. she also told me that two further swab tests would be taking place one up the nose and one right at the back of my throat. Later that day the results came in for the CT scan which they confirmed from looking at previous cases from China I had coronavirus, no clot on the lungs or scarring which was a massive relief. During Wednesday night I felt my mouth becoming watery and something just changed in my chest. I had one day left of antibiotics but felt stronger although still on a high level of oxygen.
On Thursday morning I was doing well. I was told I was able to take the mask off, which surprised me but I did and I was breathing on my own. The relief was incredible and I felt very emotional l. I put the mask back on as instructed and my oxygen levels were reduced. The doctor was very pleased at the change in my condition. Later that day the fourth test results came in and one confirmed negative and one positive. I asked which one had been positive and they said the one taken from my throat. I said I couldn’t believe it and they said the testing isn’t 100% accurate, it’s currently running at 70% which surprised me.
By that afternoon I was taking my mask off for periods of time to try and breath on my own for short periods. I was told that if you continued to make progress I could leave in the morning. Friday morning the nurse came in and said I have good news and bad news which worried me. She informed me that they needed to move me immediately as the room was required for a disabled child with coronavirus. I was discharged later that day to the relief of me and my family. The medical staff said that I was able to return home as I was no longer contagious.
My recovery is happening in stages. My lungs and breathing have taken time to recover because of the inflammation and my arms and legs have been very painful. My GP said they have looked at previous recovery cases from China and it is very common.
My advice is this. I’m 39, fit and healthy. This awful virus hit me like a sledgehammer. Don’t think just because you are young, fit or generally healthy it won’t make you very ill or worse than that kill you!!!
I would like to thank the NHS for everything that they did for me. The care, the comfort and commitment they give everyday is second to none. They are underpaid and undervalued for their sacrifice and dedication and the care they offer to people when they are at their lowest.
Please stay home, protect the NHS and save your families, your friends and everyone’s lives.