4th April 2020
Getting first signs of virus but did not realise or want to accept it.
Had rasping in the airway as if I had had a high tar cigarette(I used to be a smoker 17 years ago). This continues over 10 days intermittently. Sought first medical help with telephone appointment with GP, Dr Kanan who advises rest and makes no mention of Covid 19. Sarah informed at this stage. Still at work -home working.
14th April Beginning of flu like symptoms but slow to appear. Over next few days gets worse. Still in total denial. Carry on working.
17th April . Now ill and phone in sick. Not taking phone calls or texts.Cocoon myself in flat . Complete loss of appetite and smell and taste. Spend next few days getting worse.
20th April . Call to GP . Dr Nash and first mention of Covid as a possibility . She advises rest and sweat it out. First fever episode lasts 4 hours . Very dehydrated and ill.
21st April until 24th April. Continue to think I have the flu, but now getting delirious. Flat now in a mess from stale food and debris left as I try to move around.Not eating or looking after any ADLs.
24th April . Second fever episode lasts 4 hrs. Getting worse . Still not in touch with anyone and trying to manage alone but failing.
Having spent weekend getting worse finally ring GP. Again speak to Dr Nash. She instructs me to get a sats test to see how much oxygen I have but is alarmed to see my symptoms have not induced lack of breathing. She is puzzled but now confirms I have Covid 19 by diagnosis.
11am Get into car and somehow drive to testing station in surgery car park 2 miles away. Waited in heat for over an hour. Had air conditioning on to keep me stable. Finally after another patient pushed in front of me with her car get duty GP, Dr Khalid to test me for sats and other readings. She is shocked by result of 81. Does it again to check. Same result.High temperature recorded. She instructs me that I need immediate medical help through Ambulance. I foolishly tell her that I will meet Ambulance at home address and then I can get car back home. Then drove 2 miles in awful state , close to having an accident on several occasions. Huge misjudgement by myself.
1.30pm Arrive at home but unable to get up stairs to flat. 2 minutes later emergency ambulance with sirens arrives. Immediately given Oxygen and results are still poor.Crew believe I have Covid 19 and are taking precautions.
2.30pm . After some half hour-I think -of preparing me for hospital admission rushed to GRH. Admitted to spare A and E for Covid 19 patients.Again results of vitals poor. Swab test taken for Covid. Result negative. Test repeated 30 minutes later. Test negative. Test repeated 30 minutes later. Test positive.
How accurate is testing?
6pm Moved to AMU- Acute Medical Unit and tests and treatments continue. Moved to side room for isolation.
7pm -11pm Gradual decline in condition , but still conscious and high anxiety.
10.30pm AMU Consultant hands over to ICU Consultant to inform me that my condition now warrants ICU admission. Taken through hospital to ICU. Porters are advised Covid 19 patient being moved and close off all entrances and corridors.
11.45pm still very much aware of situation. ICU Consultant gives me the Choice of Life speech. He says that my condition is serious and I have a choice -I can go on CPAP machine to aid breathing as normal Oxygen procedure is no longer enough , but if CPAP fails or I cannot tolerate it I will need to be intubated and go onto a ventilator and may never wake up.
Not fully able to take this in but go for CPAP option, as the hail mary choice! Made personal prayers.
CPAP is a machine adapted from sleep apnia machines to push oxygen into the lungs.. It has a huge mask which covers the face and therefore blurs vision. It has a loud machine noise and it is not possible to sleep.Spent 11 hours non stop on CPAP except for 2 quick water breaks.
Have now had catheter fitted as unable to leave bed and using a Nebuliser 3x a day.
9am. No sleep but CPAP making a difference. Huge encouragement by nurses and doctors to carry on . They believe they can now save me and move me to side room.
Dr Nash, GP sends urgent e mail today to all other GPs in medical practice to inform them of my case which is unusual, in that my symptoms did not include breathing difficulties and yet I needed ICU admission.
28th April -2nd May .At one time had 3 nurses caring for me. ICU not at capacity at all. Sats results going up but when off CPAP machine results go down, but gradual this improves over next four days.Moved to High/ Low breathing device , which is less intrusive and allows me to breath clearly.
Now able to have facetime contact with Sarah on one occasion and then other members of the family on second occasion. Receive e mail from daughter Tova in Sweden. These events have huge significance in my well being. Confidence now growing that I may come out of this alive.
Have now been moved back into general ICU but informed in morning that I will be moved to ICU 2 as suitable progress made.Moved to ICU 2 in afternoon. As I leave ICU with 3 others at the same time huge round of applause by staff who line exit . Porters again close off hospital access to allow patient convoy to be moved without risk.
3rd May . Begin to have independence. Can now move around from bed to chair with Oxygen tank connected. Complete first physio session which involves walk in ward -First walk in 7 days. This is repeated over next 2 days several times.Only 4 patients in ICU2 so demand low and again not at capacity.Continue to use Nebuliser 3 x a day.
Have now been getting texts regularly and e mails through Family Liaison Unit from GRH. Sarah has been liaising with friends and contacts to inform them of my condition and this has generated a response.
4th May. Moved from ICU 2 to AMU. Access through one set of doors. Have side room again and relax into surroundings and continue to make progress. Now on Oxygen only, but Nebuliser continues 3 x a day. Each Nebuliser session is half an hour.
5th May 4.30am . Woken up and told room is needed for non Covid patient . I must move immediately. Not happy with this and moved into general AMU Covid ward of 6 others in a bay. Struggle with this in next 2 days as lot of noise and little sleep. One of the other patients has dementia and does not stop talking , even at night.Have CT scan today and it reveals that my Spleen has now become twice the size that it should be. This is common with infection especially Pneumonia, and happens regularly with Covid 19. Advised that if no further infection Spleen can return to normal size within 6 months . Adding appropriate diet, exercise and supplements will assist with this process. Have now been informed I am close to discharge, and therefore want to continue my recovery at home.
Wake with the expectation that I could get discharged it all goes to plan today. More exercise completed on the ward without assistance. Can now walk freely and wash completely independently. Heart ultrasound completed in morning. Eager wait for results which come in at 2pm. AMU consultant comes to see me and had 20 minutes with me explaining all the consequences and action which will follow.Hear survey reveals a heart block in phase one or known as bundle branch heart block. Again sadly common with Covid 19 aftermath. It is damage to heart tissue but in my case is only phase one which means no treatment required but will need to be monitored. Obviously this will add to heart damage already permanent from heart attack in 2003 but same advice given of how I must continue to recover now at home for 6 weeks.
Fatigue will be an issue as well as some Covid 19 symptoms continue as the virus exits the body. Exercise essential as many times as possible in a week but without over doing it which will lead to fatigue and loss in lung capacity. Informed that lungs will not recover fully for 6 months from viral pneumonia.
Also informed that I am no longer contagious and that is why they are releasing me back into the community and no need to isolate at home , although rest and relaxation will be essential.Immunity discussed and revealed that I will have immunity but length and strength is still unknown.
4pm Discharged from Ward. Thank staff for their amazing work, as I did when I left ICU.
4.30pm Arrive home in warm sun in a taxi.
6th May onwards – 6 weeks recovery.
My thanks to all the staff who saved my life including the GPs ,Ambulance crew, A and E staff, the ICU staff and AMU staff.
Andrew Wood. 23.5.20
Thank you Andrew for sharing your storyICU Support team