COVID-19 came to our household on 19 March. My daughter and her boyfriend had arrived two days before, from London, and both developed a sore throat, which was followed by a loss of smell and taste. Although the symptoms were atypical, we decided we should self-isolate. I developed general aches and pains as well, but over the weekend I started to feel much better. At this point I was actually congratulating myself for getting over whatever it was I had had.
However, during the week, I was facilitating a discussion with ten medical students from home, as we had moved to the online format by then, when I started to feel really bad. I made it through the session and at the end, I went to my bedroom to sleep. I had bad stomach problems, and over the next seven days I lost 6.5kg as a result of diarrhoea. My partner, who was also self-isolating in Truro, told me to go to the doctor, but I resisted. I knew I had COVID-19, but I also knew it was a small percentage of people who develop serious symptoms.
On the ninth day of illness, in spite of my resistance, my daughter insisted on checking my temperature and it was 39 degrees, which I knew was higher than it should be this far into the disease, although I didn’t feel feverish.
My daughter called 111. I was still in denial, claiming that the temperature was due to sleeping under an electric blanket. Thankfully, they did not quite buy that. They asked me to keep myself hydrated and said they would get Devon Doctors, the urgent out-of-hours GP service, to call us within six hours. I got a lot worse during that interval, and although I had never been in hospital as a patient before this, all my resistance to going there melted away.
When the call did eventually come, I was very honest about my situation. They arranged for me to be picked up by ambulance, which came within 30 minutes.
One positive of all this was that I knew Derriford is where all our students are trained, and it has a great reputation.
In hospital I had two tests done. The first one actually came back negative, and while I was waiting for the result, a nurse said there was a doctor outside the room who wanted to talk to me. It turned out to be a former student, Jenny, who said if I was tested COVID-19 positive, I would be transferred to her unit.