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Experiences of Covid-19 and Intensive Care

Managing with symptoms of Covid at home

This page covers experiences of people who contracted Covid and were later admitted to an Intensive Care Unit. On this page you can listen to people talk about:

  • Making sense of their symptoms
  • Having no symptoms
  • The use of an oximeter to measure oxygen levels
  • Having to go into self-isolation

Making sense of symptoms

At the start of the pandemic, the UK government’s public health messaging communicated a list of symptoms of Covid (COVID-19) that people should look out for. In the first few weeks these symptoms were:

  • a new, continuous cough,
  • a high temperature or fever.

The loss or change to one’s sense of taste or smell was added in May 2020.

Many of those we interviewed described to us how their illness started with one or more of these symptoms and a “general feeling of being really unwell”, followed by more severe “flu like” symptoms. Lots of the people we interviewed experienced difficulty breathing which made them extremely anxious.

 

John had flu-like symptoms which gradually got worse.

John had flu-like symptoms which gradually got worse.

Age at interview: 60
Sex: Male
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I remember initially it was quite mild symptoms, the first couple of days. Temperature, just feeling…it's like a flu scenario, your body was just aching and you just didn't want to move or do anything. Loss of appetite. A little cough, not much of a cough. I never lost my sense of taste or smell. So I didn't have all the symptoms which you hear about. And then over the…about day three, four, I then started having difficulty with breathing, so respiratory issues, which is what led to me needing to get myself into hospital at the point where I was really struggling to be able to just breathe. So I'd describe it as a severe case of flu like symptoms.

 

Gerry had a cough and a temperature and experienced shortness of breath.

Gerry had a cough and a temperature and experienced shortness of breath.

Age at interview: 57
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 57
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So, in January I had a really bad cough, chesty cough started, and it developed, it was, hacking is the only way I would describe it. I got sent home from work, told me just to go away in case anybody else got what we thought. Never heard of Covid at that point. I don’t think many of us had. It seemed to disappear. I was okay for about six weeks and then round about the middle of March I developed the cough again. The cough came back. Gradually. It was just a kind of irritable cough. Then eventually coming into April time I experienced the hacking again, just getting worse and worse. Now, the day I got taken into hospital was the 23rd of April. Up till then I still hadn’t been to a GP. I’d phoned up, spoke to NHS. They wouldn’t test me. They told me just to isolate. At that point I didn’t have a temperature. Probably about maybe two, three days before I got admitted, which would be about 20th of April, I started to really go downhill a wee bit. Started getting hot flushes. My temperature was raised, and luckily, we had a thermometer in the house, and I was seeing my temperatures were going up 37.5, 37.8, still had the really bad cough. Starting to feel quite lethargic, a lot of fatigue.

Prior to that, at night-time I was experiencing the shortness of breath. There’s more kind of like a drowning effect. I could hardly breathe. I think I knew deep down that I had Covid because when I looked at all the information and everything that was available to me, I ticked every box. I was a bit surprised on the 22nd, the day before I was admitted, that they wouldn’t take me down and let me get tested. I found that quite strange. Considering I’d told them I’d had it for over four weeks, this hacking cough, I’ve got a temperature. But they didn’t bother.

 

Carl’s cough was unlike any cough he had experienced before.

Carl’s cough was unlike any cough he had experienced before.

Age at interview: 50
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 50
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Well, I suppose back in early March last year [2020] I was off to go skiing in France, and I went skiing in France just for a few days. This was when France, the weekend that they got locked down, so I literally came back from there on the Sunday night, a day early. On the Monday morning I felt like I had a bit of a cough, and I felt my body was all aching, a bit like flu. But while I’d been in France, I would say I was really tired as well. When I was out on the slopes I was struggling, I’d do a run, have to stop, wait for everybody, let everybody else do another run and then come back down. So, I don’t know whether that was just me or whether that was the start of it as well.

I was aware of the symptoms, but I was probably naïve to the fact of how serious it was. At the end of the day none of us should have been skiing, but it’s very easy to say that now. Loads of people were, the whole country was still working as normal and things. But it’s that thing of not believing it’s going to get you. But I knew on the Monday that I’d got it. I usually used to get a cough, if I’d got a cold, I’d get a cough and things, but it didn’t feel like a cold, it felt totally different. And my body was aching. I had a cough, and it was a cough that was affecting my breathing. I can even show you on my phone. It was just like it was just sucking up your breath. [Shows video of being breathless] That was what it was doing. I’d never had anything like that before. It was just like suddenly you were trying to find air. And when I was coughing, I was trying to bring air in, and you just couldn’t do it. I suppose that’s when my lungs must be filling up with liquid. I don’t know. Is that what it is then? You are able to breathe less and less.

 

Wendy had a temperature and her breathing was laboured.

Wendy had a temperature and her breathing was laboured.

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So, I was feeling really…just really, really tired, a really heavy cough, shivery. And then I don’t normally get a temperature, but I was conscious of feeling warm. And I think I said to my husband, I said, ooh I feel really cold. And he said, no, you’re absolutely boiling. I didn’t actually take my temperature at that time, don’t know why, probably just both felt too ill to do it. And then it wasn’t till the ambulance came that we found out how high my temperature was. And it must’ve been like that for a good two or three days…or probably two days, sorry. And yeah, just really, I’ve never felt so ill in my life, and I’ve had quite a few different things happen in my life and, no, never felt so awful.

It was just, oh golly, just…you’re just drained. It takes every ounce out of energy out of you; even to get out of bed and to go to the loo was like climbing a mountain. You just felt everything aches, you know, your legs ache, your arms ache, everything feels heavy. And I had this really heavy, heavy feeling in my chest, particularly on my right side, it felt like somebody was sat on it.

And I did remember that from when I had my lung condition a few years ago. And I think that’s what alerted me slightly, I thought, oh this isn’t right. And then my breathing…this is, like, the night before I actually went into hospital, my breathing was very drawn and noisy, so it was like a gasp every single time and like a grunt. And my husband said, is that grunting making you feel better? I said, I’m not even conscious of doing it, I said, am I grunting? He said, yeah. I said, oh I didn’t know. And then I sort of went back to sleep and apparently was still doing this [non verbal speech] when I was asleep, which I found out later was the lungs trying to work harder to get the air in.

As the Covid pandemic continued, more symptoms were added to the list. Many of the people we spoke to had symptoms that were not those communicated via the public health messaging, including:

  • fatigue,
  • muscle aches,
  • a sore throat,
  • poor appetite,
  • drowsiness,
  • headache,
  • delirium,
  • collapsing or fainting,
  • an upset stomach or diarrhoea,
  • mood changes,
  • and feeling sick.

To many, it was confusing that Covid symptoms were more diverse than those communicated through government channels, particularly when self-testing to confirm or rule out Covid was not yet available.

 

Kate and her husband did not recognise their symptoms as signs of a Covid infection.

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Kate and her husband did not recognise their symptoms as signs of a Covid infection.

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I was working at home... because we had been locked down, He was [working but] not exposed to the public. Both him and I started feeling unwell, kind of coughing, whatever, and at that point there was no testing, and actually it was fairly early on in the process, in the lockdown, so there wasn’t any testing. Actually, it was at the point where they were talking about the loss of taste and smell but hadn’t adopted that into the set of symptoms. So, the only symptoms that we were told to look out for at that point, were sort of a high temperature, pyrexia, and this persistent cough.

So, both of us were kind of, we had this cough, but it wasn’t persistent, it was almost like a hay fevery cough, so neither of us kind of recognised that it was what we thought it was, because actually it wasn’t classically presenting.

I started to feel [unwell], he then had no symptoms, his coughing stopped, I started to feel kind of unwell, and I took to my bed. Still no sort of temperature or anything like that, not a classical clinical presentation. So, we kind of assumed that that’s what it might be, and it was over the Easter Weekend, so he wasn’t working anyway. So, I took to my bed, and he was fine. By the Saturday, I was alright, I was back up and running, which is kind of typical for me, if I’m unwell anyway, I get sick, and then I’m fine after a couple of days. But, by the Saturday, he then started feeling unwell, again no temperature.

So, on the Saturday I was fine, I mowed the lawn on Saturday, and he went to bed. And he was quite kind of unwell, but a bit non-descript really, there wasn’t a cough, there wasn’t a temperature, he just felt a bit achy, a bit rubbish.

And your symptoms, they were rather diffused, you say, so they weren’t the ones that you were [seeing in the public health messages] …?

They were diffuse. No, so the only classic symptom I had was, I didn’t even, I had a cough, but it wasn’t a persistent cough. And I only had it for about 24 hours, and it was like I get when I get hay fever, it was exactly the same, so that’s what I wrote it off as. I worked all the way through when I had that cough on the Saturday, working at home. I wasn’t pyrexial with a fever, I didn’t have the aches and pains, I didn’t have any of that. And the only symptom that was concrete, but then at that point hadn’t been developed, was when I lost my sense of taste and smell, and I found that really distressing, that I couldn’t taste and smell. That was weird. I took bites out of onions, just so that, because I was like, I don’t believe that I can’t taste. And I couldn’t taste it. Yeah, that was really distressing. Funny isn’t it, how you remember that? [name husband] didn’t lose his taste or smell at all. Funny.

 

George had no other symptoms than a lack of appetite. His 14-year-old son called an ambulance after using an oximeter to measure George’s oxygen levels.

George had no other symptoms than a lack of appetite. His 14-year-old son called an ambulance after using an oximeter to measure George’s oxygen levels.

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I realised there was something wrong with me. But because it started on the very mild, gradual…it’s like I was thinking of, yes, I am a man, I can man it up, and the government stance on the whole issue was if it’s not severe, don’t go to the A&E, I mean, just stay at home, you know? Because there are more urgent issues being adhered to or taking care of. And then with the GP as well, what they were saying was if it’s not very severe, don’t go there and bother them.

So basically, it got to a point that I’d been wondering what is going on, and all the symptoms that the government gave as regarding coughing, flu-like symptoms, et cetera, I mean, all the guidelines they gave or the symptoms that should…tell you the signs, none of them were…I wasn’t…what was happening to me, none of them was ticking the box. But it was, I think, in the second week, because I was going about my normal duties, everything was…even though I realised something was wrong with me, I was going about, you know, walking, doing everything normally. But it was, I think, in the first or second week that I realised that I’m off of food, and I’m not eating for two days.

So, then the thought now started, you know, having a look, hey, you’ve not eaten for two days, then either it’s anorexia or bulimia, something should be going wrong now for the body to be rejecting food completely. So, I went to the pharmacy to see whether probably there’s anything they could give me to probably kickstart the appetite or… So, I sent the kids to the pharmacy to do that.

But it wasn’t working, so I think in the second week, the third or fourth day, I was in the house complaining…well, I cooked for the children and then I asked them to…the third day I asked the children to, you know, feed themselves and help themselves to the [inaudible] it’s all helping me with the Zoom or whatever it is to, how do you call it, get the Zoom and change the emails for me.

It was as if…complaining you’re ill, you’re ill, you’re ill, and you’re not participating, so come, let me give you a normal medical check-up in the house, you know? Because we have most of all, I would say, DIY medical…taking blood pressure, sugar monitor, diabetes monitor, oximeter test, you know, we’ve got all the medical basic whatever. So, he started putting them on, and when he put on the oximeter, that is when he realised that my oxygen level had dropped to about 67 per cent.

So, he said, oh no, definitely there’s something wrong here. But with 67 per cent, I don’t think he could make it, it’s the oximeter which is faulty, so he took the oximeter off, and put it on his finger to check the oxygen levels. So, his was over 97 per cent. So, he tried it back on my finger again, then it was the same. So, well, he then took the opportunity to try on the other siblings, so he said, look, Dad, you’re not going to make it.

 

Donna’s husband Simon had symptoms that were not communicated via public health messages.

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Donna’s husband Simon had symptoms that were not communicated via public health messages.

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So, I think we went to bed that night, he was okay. Another thing with Covid, they don’t mention this, some people feel faint and collapse. Well, he nearly did in the bathroom when I was downstairs. The other thing was diarrhoea. He had a really bad upset stomach, and obviously I went up and…because he was quite private, he wouldn’t have said. That doesn’t come out in the symptoms because people don’t mention that. He had a cough; he had a temperature.

And also, the symptoms of what you’re told actually are a bit different to what they actually are, like the diarrhoea, the collapsing, confusion, being a bit delirious. I just thought temperature, cough, and lethargic. And I never thought about oxygen levels, even though a friend of mine, their daughter’s a doctor, and they had said get the oxygen meter in.

Some people we spoke to had hardly any symptoms at all. Zoe found this hard to accept with her later hospital admission and how ill she became.

 

Zoe woke up in resus after experiencing a tightness in her chest earlier that night.

Zoe woke up in resus after experiencing a tightness in her chest earlier that night.

Age at interview: 46
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 45
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I didn’t have any symptoms apart from, I think I explained to you that when I went just to the loo, in the middle of the night, I had a little bit of tightness in my chest, which was a bit unusual for me, but not anything that I thought, oh, like, anything dramatic. So, the fact that I would find myself waking up in Resus was just such a shock. I just, I didn’t, all the things they tell you to look out for, I know my temperature was high, I think I told you that already, from the notes the paramedics had, but if you’d asked me on that day if I’d felt okay, I would have definitely told you, yes, I felt fine. So, when they say, kind of, you know, continuous cough, high temperature, you know, all the things that they tell you to look out for, I didn’t feel like any of those applied to me, apart from that little bit of tightness to my chest.

 

Mark saw his doctor for groin pain. His diagnosis with Covid was made through a blood test.

Mark saw his doctor for groin pain. His diagnosis with Covid was made through a blood test.

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My Covid was actually diagnosed through a blood test. And I booked a doctor’s appointment because I’d had some groin pain. Imagine lifting…imagine going to bed, you know when you go to bed, you lift your leg up onto the bed? I was getting pains in my top of my thigh. And I’m thinking, why am I getting pains there? And if I was laid down on the settee and I lifted my right leg up, I was getting the pain. So, I got to the point, I actually got…strangely enough, I actually got a face-to-face appointment with the GP, who had also asked me to do a blood test. But I’ve also read that that too may have been a symptom, though…technically, it’s a joint pain. And then two days after that, I was admitted.

So, on the Sunday, I collapsed. On the Tuesday, I see the GP and I had some blood tests. I think the blood tests came back that same Thursday morning also. But by then, an ambulance was called saying that I had Covid. So, the joint pain was supposed to be a post-Covid symptom, wasn’t it? Not a pre-Covid system basically. So that’s why I’m saying as far as I was aware, there were no symptoms. The fact that I’d fainted, as far as I could see, wasn’t a traditional symptom. But they were…you know, technically they were, but not the ones that were put into the public domain. And that’s where I ended up.

Yeah. Do you feel that if there had been more attention for a wider array of symptoms that belonged to Covid, you would have acted differently?

Possibly. Possibly. But I think everybody knew that I don’t go down. My partner came in and goes, well, you don’t sound right, it’s not like you to be weak, to be down. I just [want to] monitor you. So, like I said, it’s like someone had taken out a battery and I was just like powered down sort of thing.

 

Emma had not expected to become so ill that she needed to be mechanically ventilated.

Emma had not expected to become so ill that she needed to be mechanically ventilated.

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I work as a receptionist and a ward clerk in A&E, so for ten months, I’d been with Covid patients. I’d worked so much overtime, because there was quite a lot of absences and things like that, and I’d not been poorly, I’d not got Covid. I hadn’t had my injections by then, I hadn’t had any antibodies from it, because we had our antibody tests, so if I’m honest with you, I thought, I’m alright from this, because if I was going to get it, I’d have had it by now. I’d been in that much…but it just goes to show you about our PPE does its job, otherwise I would have been poorly before that. Yeah, so the only reason that I phoned up was because I didn’t feel good, I felt…my chest felt a bit tight, I felt poorly, I felt I needed something like an inhaler, or I needed something just to give myself a bit of a boost with my breathing.

Not for one second, not for one second, did I think I was as poorly as I was going to be, at all, and I walked in, I was out of breath, but I walked in. And I can remember being looked at, and the look, it’s only the eyes, because you can only see the eyes, the look that I got was, you’re not well, and then I sort of thought, well, I know I’m not well, but I’m not that unwell. Yeah, and then I could just tell by the people that were outside the little unit they put you in, it was like a room, they’re Covid rooms that they’ve all built, and I could tell that I’m poorly here, and it did scare me, but I still wasn’t that bothered, because I wasn’t that poorly. I still didn’t feel that poorly, and to go on a ventilator or to be like that. You’ve got to be really poorly, and I didn’t feel really poorly, not once did I think I was poorly enough for that to happen, not once, not even when they came in on Christmas Day morning and told me, not once did I think that. I still didn’t feel that poorly, yeah.

Looking back, some people worried that they should have called for help earlier. Carl recalled that he felt he would just get better as his health had otherwise been really good. However, his symptoms continued to worsen. He was very unsure what to do as there was essentially no information available on what to do, and it was impossible to get through to 111 to get advice. Looking back, he wondered whether he could have prevented his critical illness had he gone to hospital sooner: “I actually do feel I should have gone to hospital, if I’d have gone in on the Wednesday or Thursday, I probably wouldn’t have needed the ventilator, but I probably waited too long.”

 

Carl felt that he may not have needed the ventilator had he gone to hospital sooner.

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Carl felt that he may not have needed the ventilator had he gone to hospital sooner.

Age at interview: 50
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 50
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I kind of knew it was serious. When I got into the ambulance, I tried to not stress, because I’d got my wife and my two boys there, they’re 13 and 15. And because in a fortunate way they didn’t really know much about it because it was only really the very start of it. Loads and loads of people were very worried, but I knew it was risky and I knew when I got in the ambulance this might be it, I knew that. But in the back of my mind, I was telling myself I’ll be okay, I’m going to be okay.

I actually do feel I should have gone to hospital, if I’d have gone in on the Wednesday or Thursday, I probably wouldn’t have needed the ventilator, but I probably waited too long. When I look at other people, I sometimes think that’s what other people have done, they’ve just left it too long. But it’s really difficult because everybody has a different threshold of where they are uncomfortable or pain threshold, and some people just hold out forever. But I just knew when my temperature was high, I would just collapse.

In some households, more than one person was ill at the same time. In some cases, more than one family member went on to require hospital admission (see ‘When more than one person is ill’).

Measuring oxygen levels

COVID-19 is a viral infection that can affect people’s breathing. Several people told us that when they or their loved one were breathless, they had been advised by friends or family to use an oximeter (a device to measure blood oxygen levels) to monitor their condition. Some people we spoke to found this device very helpful, and went on to recommend it to others. Donna felt having an oximeter would have helped her to realise the severity of her husband’s condition and to seek medical help earlier.

 

A friend of Alisha’s father recommended the use of an oximeter.

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A friend of Alisha’s father recommended the use of an oximeter.

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But it was like one day went, two days went and he’s not getting better. The problem was he was having a very high fever of 39 degrees and it was just not going down. Me and my mum were doing cold sponging on him, we were giving him all the home remedies, everything you can do, take some steam, try to clear the airways, maybe that would help. He wasn’t really having any breathing problems even as such. He wasn’t even coughing. The majority of the symptoms that you would associate with Covid he wasn’t really having, and that’s why we weren’t thinking that it would be so serious.

But eventually then, and I think this is quite lucky, one of his friends is a doctor and he actually called to check up how my dad was, and he said to my dad, you need to get an oximeter, we need to check your oxygen saturations. We ordered one straight away and the next day we checked, and it was quite low. It was about 87. At that time, I think everyone was still learning about Covid, even though this was in December, January, there was still a lot that we hadn’t learned about Covid. The government didn’t tell us you should get an oximeter, you should use an oximeter if you’ve got Covid. We didn’t know that. It’s only luckily that my dad’s friend told us this, it’s something that’s very important for you to have if you have Covid. So, we monitored his oxygen levels for a while. I would say probably just one or two days really. It was low. It was 87, so we called 111, and they said, yeah, that’s quite low, but it’s quite normal for Covid patients to have oxygen saturations of about 90 per cent, but it’s still a cause for concern, keep checking. His oxygen was fluctuating I think between 84 to 87 to sometimes 95, and the fluctuations were quite strange, because obviously the human body should have 99, 98, technically speaking even 100, because that’s how healthy you should be. When we saw that it’s just not getting better, we thought okay, it’s high time he needs to go to the hospital.

 

Donna felt she may have taken her husband to hospital sooner had she had an oximeter.

Donna felt she may have taken her husband to hospital sooner had she had an oximeter.

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A friend of mine, their daughter’s a doctor, and they had said get the oxygen meter in. So, I’ve now since told my work and lots of other people to get an oxygen meter, which they have done, because I think if I’d had that I might have noticed perhaps oh god, the oxygen’s really low, he needs to go in sooner. Not that I’m saying it would make a big difference, because obviously with Covid it affects different people in different ways, and I’m not saying if I’d got him into hospital any earlier it would have helped. Difficult. But it’s things that go through your mind, because I have now passed that knowledge on to other people, the different symptoms, the oxygen meter thing. My work, who are a care company, didn’t even realise about oxygen meters until I said about getting a little oxygen thing, and they’ve done that now for staff who have gone down with Covid since.

 

Laszlo was shocked to find that his oxygen levels were so low when he measured them with an oximeter.

Laszlo was shocked to find that his oxygen levels were so low when he measured them with an oximeter.

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One of the things that we have done on the very first day of our self-isolation, I’ve placed an order online for a pulse oximeter [because that was the only equipment that was missing from our set of home equipment that we’d been using to monitor our vital signs. And we thought measuring our oxygen level would be crucial to know exactly what is our current state. So, we’d been expecting that to arrive in a few days, unfortunately, because of the pandemic and the lockdown put a lot of pressure on online companies and Royal Mail. This little device arrived only a week after we have placed the order and so I was self-isolating already for a week and I felt that my condition is declining so rapidly.

I was I was really doubting myself that I’m going to make it just by staying home. So, when this little pulse oximeter has arrived, we put it on my finger and I was I was shocked to see that my oxygen level were around eighty percent, which was way below even for, way below normal even for someone who has a respiratory condition such as COPD or asthma. Then, when I started walking up the stairs, those oxygen levels went even lower down to approximately sixty-five, seventy percent, so that was the moment when my wife said, “This is a no brainer. We need to call the ambulance.”

Self-isolation and testing at home

In the early days of the pandemic, when somebody had symptoms, the whole household was meant to go into self-isolation. This measure did not change until the summer of 2021, after vaccinations had become available. Without the possibility of getting a test to confirm whether other household members had Covid or not, the only way to seek help was to call the GP or the NHS helpline. In the early days of the pandemic helplines were busy, and people staffing them also had little information that was helpful. This could make people feel very isolated and desperate. This isolation could create particularly difficult circumstances, including having to home-school children, or after the loss of a loved one.

 

Gerry’s wife and son isolated with him when he had symptoms.

Gerry’s wife and son isolated with him when he had symptoms.

Age at interview: 57
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 57
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Also, if I’ve got Covid my family would have had it. I’m not saying that’s necessarily the case. But my son’s ten, so he’s under that age group where they don’t seem to show any signs. I think there’s the odd child that would. My daughter would have been 15, coming up for 16 at the time. So, I believe they’ve had it, and my wife’s…I think we’ve all had it. But I did ask before that as well, I think I asked about a week before about a test and they told me just isolate, and that’s what they were doing at the time. They were just telling people to self-isolate. That was the reason, oh, don’t go anywhere, just self-isolate. So, I think if they’d been testing at the time… But you also see the other side of it now where they are testing everybody. You’re getting more figures. So, was the uptake in April or March similar to the peaks that we’re getting at the moment? Nobody seems to really know. And that’s where I think they’ve maybe fallen down a wee bit, that they didn’t have enough of these tests. But who knew this was going to happen to us? I don’t think anybody could have forecasted this.

 

Goutam waited for more than 45 minutes to reach the NHS helpline, and when he did, they did not have more information than he did.

Goutam waited for more than 45 minutes to reach the NHS helpline, and when he did, they did not have more information than he did.

Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 52
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You said that when you first contacted the NHS you had to wait more than 45 minutes to an hour to get through to people.

Yeah

There must have been, I mean how did you, what were your thoughts about your own symptoms and at that time?

I think, you know, absolutely because my wife got fever for a couple of days and she had paracetamol and she was okay, you know, she was still a little bit down but like as, or whatever and that but she was a bit down. But was okay because I think because of me I had so bad symptoms she made herself more like, let’s say okay I need to take care of this man and then she somehow got off. But coming to NHS 24 yeah the first time like I waited 45 minutes to get, and then I feel a little bit like I said like that’s what I’m doing and all, like, and that’s what the news yes everybody says keep checking so you haven’t really given me any extra information or anything. And I tried the second time which was like even longer like I was on for an hour or so because all I wasn’t very convinced you’ll like get the same thing from my wife says “no, no, no you have to, let’s try and see like what they say”, and at that time it was so long maybe like, I have the hindsight know I can think like why because they didn’t have any information for me other than that as well. So, so yeah a little bit deserted at that time because I thought like, you know, when you wait for over an hour and you get desperate and try taking paracetamol and you are doing the right thing but I could see myself I wasn’t improving at all really I was really going down.

So, that was the only thing like, you know, I was enthusiastic about that time with the NHS line like okay why can’t they say to me like okay go and see someone, go and see a doctor or we’ll call or-, or a GP call you or do something. Because I remember, I think I tried GP our local GP as well, but they just have the same thing like, “No really we can’t do anything at this moment you just have to and wait and watch”, kind of thing. And yeah I think that’s obviously on the hindsight I can see why they are saying that, I think yeah at that time it was a bit, a little bit deserted saying I’m not really getting any help.

What would have been helpful at that point?

Again, I think the helpful thing obviously is information because there are nothing prescription information and probably testing, like testing would have been fantastic that’s one of the main things which was good. I mean if you will, whether it’s manual or somehow you could test it I think that would have, that would have made a big difference because you know for yourself that, whether you were positive or negative and if you were positive then at least you know that you’re not gonna pass it to somebody because you kept yourself isolated. You know the end result of what would happen so at least you, from my point of view I could say like I wouldn’t have gone to like, you know, my family or anyone at that time. I would have as isolated, do something different please really and I think that was a big, big thing was testing I’d say like, you know, if somehow, some kit or something was there to test yourself or someone else testing for you or however it was done.

When mass testing became more widely accessible from the end of May 2020, people could get confirmation as to whether they may have Covid. Whilst testing resolved uncertainties and anxieties for some, it raised new questions for others.

 

Elizabeth worried that she brought Covid home to her husband.

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Elizabeth worried that she brought Covid home to her husband.

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I actually, because I’m an NHS health worker they offered to have the antibody check I did have the antibody check. Family said, I was in bits, mum, don’t blame yourself. I did share that I had antibodies, so I had been, I had it. I had no obvious signs and symptoms that I had it.

I think maybe on the, you look back and you’re thinking maybe the Monday, Tuesday before he became ill on the Wednesday did I…because I just felt a bit off. But then I get really bad hay fever at that time of the year. But there was nothing to stop me from functioning. I just felt a bit tired, and I do wonder was it then or did I pick it up when he obviously was at home. I don’t know. And I try not to go down that way because I’m not stupid; I know there’s a chance that I could have brought it home, I know there is. But then he was out and about and meeting other people so, and I maybe said, don’t blame you, you don’t know where it’s come from. So, I do have to try and put that to a side and think we don’t know and everything, so.

No, we don’t know.

We don’t know, and you could tie, could tie yourself in knots and think, did I, did I give it to him. Because at that time they weren’t really, if they sent anybody off to the acute, they weren’t really testing them. But then I hadn’t been, I know it’s not long, at work for about a week. So, you just…I don’t know.

But it also meant that you didn’t feel ill around that time.

I didn’t feel ill, no. No, I had no specific symptoms.

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