Dad with coronavirus shares day by day diary of how Covid-19 feels

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A dad has shared what it is like living with coronavirus in a intimate day by day diary.

Andrew O’Dwyer, 52, tested positive for Covid-19 after travelling back from Italy.

He has been living in isolation for weeks.

In his diary, he writes about what happened and the virus makes him feel.

According to the Manchester Evening News, Andrew was in a group of 24 who came back from Italy in February – 17 have so far tested positive for Covid-19.

He went into self-isolation after returning from the trip and tested positive as he began to experience symptoms including breathing difficulties and fever.

Here he shares his diary of living in self-isolation with COVID-19.

Sunday, March 1

I stayed at home for the day and caught up with my emails and watched television.

At this stage I had no symptoms and felt completely fine. I was just keeping an eye on the news and observing what was happening in Italy.

Monday, March 2.

This was the day we found out that two people from our group of 24 were ill. They both ended up in hospital and were among the first 10 people in the UK to test positive.

One of them had shown signs of the illness and it was very quick. They have underlying an heart issue so they were taken into hospital.

The other person was a younger member of the group so it was quite surprising when they became ill. He’s only in his 20s and he became very ill too.

We were all up to date with what was happening because we’re in a group WhatsApp.

I have a nine-year-old son who lives nearby. He understands that I’m not very well and has seen coronavirus on the news.

I’m not sure he fully understands what it means but he knows his daddy has to stay at home for a couple of weeks.

I had a chat with him via FaceTime when he came from school to let him know I was okay.

Tuesday, March 3.

In the morning my son rang me and said he was at the bus stop across the road from my flat.

I looked out the window and waved at him. He told me he was giving me a big hug as he wrapped his arms around himself. I did the same back and told him I loved him. That was a nice boost after a few days in the flat on my own.

By this point, I was running low on food and my neighbour offered to bring me some shopping.

I gave her a list of essentials to tide me over in case I became ill. It was just general stuff like bananas, cornflakes, tins of soup and baked beans, painkillers and Diet Coke. That kind of thing. I’m friends with my neighbours and that was really helpful.

At this stage I felt completely fine without any symptoms but I didn’t leave the house.

Wednesday, March 4

This was the first day I contacted NHS 111 because more people in our group had tested positive for the virus.

It took me about 40 minutes to get through to an advisor. I explained that I’d been in contact with someone with coronavirus and returned from Northern Italy.

A clinical advisor called me back around an hour and a half later, and told me to self-isolate, which I was already doing, and that they would send a nurse to my home to do a swab test.

Two nurses who were going to do the swab called ahead beforehand. They said to ask any questions over the phone, rather than ask questions when they arrived to avoid any contamination via spittle.

At around 3.30pm they arrived in an unmarked car in hazmat suits. They knocked on the door, came in, took two swabs from the back of my throat and left. It took a matter of seconds.

Thursday, March 5

I got up, ate and did some life admin as normal. I really didn’t feel poorly or anything at this point but I was aware I could be carrying the virus.

I carried on with the self-isolation as instructed, and waited for my results. I was told my GP surgery would be in touch to let me know either way.

Friday, March 6

Still feeling fine and chipper. I watched television and did some work from home.

No sign of my results, but also no symptoms.

Saturday, March 7

It was now a week since our group had returned from the Dolomites and 16 people had tested positive for coronavirus. I found out I was the seventeenth person to contract the virus on this day.

At around 8.30pm, I received a call from a consultant at St George’s Hospital in London who confirmed I had COVID-19. I knew all along I was probably positive and that confirmed I had done the right thing from the start. I was the last one in the group to get my results. The people who lived in Manchester were among the first ones to get the diagnoses.

We’re all in the same WhatsApp group and we’ve had a bit of a laugh and a joke about it. You need a bit of dark humour to get you through these situations.

Sunday, March 8

This was when I started getting symptoms. I had quite a minor cough. It was very intermittent – I would have a coughing fit for a few minutes every couple of hours. I didn’t think about it too much at the time, but looking back, that was when my symptoms started.

I asked my neighbour to buy me a thermometer and post it through the letterbox so I could check my temperature.

Apart from the coughing, I was eating and drinking as normal.

Monday, March 9

This was the first day I started to get a fever. I took my temperature at around 12.30pm and it was 36.4C. By 4pm it 37.7C and at 5.15pm it was 38.1C.

I could feel it rising and by then I was feeling physically quite ill. The sporadic coughing fits were becoming more frequent and were lasting for longer. I was having 15-20 bouts of coughing and I was struggling with my breathing.

Just before 6pm, my temperature had reached 38.2C and the coughing wasn’t abating.

At 6.30pm I decided to call 999 for an ambulance because I couldn’t catch my breath.

The advisor told me to pack a bag and leave the front door open. They told me not to eat or drink anything, and that a clinician would call me back.

Two hours later, an ambulance still hadn’t arrived so I shut the front door and went back upstairs. I also went against the initial advice and had something to eat because I’m a diabetic. My sugar levels were really high and I needed my insulin injection.

At 10.30pm a clinician called me and by then I had started to feel better. They said the initial information I had been given was incorrect and I was right to eat something.

The coughing had subsided, my breathing had eased and my temperature had fallen to 35.8 by midnight so I went to bed.

Tuesday, March 10

When I woke up I felt absolutely fantastic, which was surprising considering how ill I had felt the day before. I took Nurofen and paracetamol intermittently throughout the day.

But at 6pm I developed a real chill. I had the heating and gas fire on, and I was under the duvet in a jumper and my ski hat, and I still felt freezing.

I was shivering and shaking like a snowman, and by 8pm my temperature was around 38.2C.

It was really quite an intense feeling but by 10pm the fever seemed to have broken.

By midnight my temperature was back to 36.2 and went to bed.

Wednesday, March 11

I’d not had much sleep so I felt really groggy and had a sore throat from all the coughing.

Someone from NHS 111 called to do a welfare check because I’m a diabetic.

I told them about my fever and the coughing. They decided that they would send someone to do an assessment at my home. At 2pm they turned up in an ambulance in full hazmats, and decided to take me to St Helier Hospital to be checked over.

When we arrived they couldn’t take me in for some reason. A nurse came out to speak to me and by that time I was well.

They sent me home and told me to continue to self-isolate.

Thursday, March 12

I did an interview with Hugh Pym from the BBC in the morning and I was feeling okay.

It was only in the evening when I had a coughing fit and my temperature went back up.

It seems to hit you in bouts. You can feel fine for a few hours and then all of a sudden it hits you.

This was the first night I slept really badly because I was coughing so much.

It’s worth saying that this isn’t like a normal cough. It’s an involuntary cough that has you on all fours retching. You cough like you’re a 40-a-day smoker in their forties.

I was hugging the toilet because I thought I was going to be vomit. It’s that which gives you the headaches.

I found that anti inflammatories like Nurofen really helped with the coughing.

Friday, March 13.

Today I feel almost back to normal, and everyone who was hospitalised in our group has been discharged.

A friend of mine collected my insulin prescription from the pharmacy and some of the mums from school rang to ask if I wanted a coffee. I’ve weirdly been off caffeinated drinks and have been craving sharp drinks or smoothies.

My only concern now is that I’m not going to be tested to see if I’m negative. How you meant to know that you don’t have it anymore? I really think that’s something they should be looking at to contain this.

 

The dad-of-one has been in isolation for two weeks while he recovers from the illness (Image: Andrew O’Dwyer)
Andrew believes the Italian and British authorities could have done more to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Image: Andrew O’Dwyer)

 

Andrew on holiday