Damon Golder, Lanview’s Managing Director gives a personal account of his experience with coronavirus

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Posted on 3rd June 2020

There is no doubt coronavirus has completely changed our lives, dominating our news and topic of conversation, shutting down businesses and schools. Tragically, it has taken many people’s lives. Despite this, most people never think they will be the ones to get ill, not least Damon who managed to be one of the many thousands who caught COVID-19. Read Damon’s account of his experience with coronavirus below.

Underlying health problems

I have always considered myself to be healthy, however, my family have a history of heart conditions, so having turned 55 in September I had a series of routine health checks. I was quickly diagnosed with a narrowing artery and some adverse liver readings. Nothing requiring treatment, simply a healthier lifestyle. I had also suffered from pneumonia several years earlier. Although I have never smoked, my lungs were never strong and most of my colds invariably turn into chest infections. Despite these underlying health problems, I never thought I was at a higher risk of catching coronavirus.

I had a skiing trip booked in Meribel, France for early March. Coronavirus cases were starting to rapidly increase across Europe and the trip was cut short. The day after we arrived in France, President Macron declared a lockdown which meant the entire resort closed within 24 hours of us arriving. After a lot of searching online, we managed to get an earlier flight home. By now I had developed a cough. 

When things changed 

Saturday 21st March was the day when things changed, and I become ill extremely quickly. That afternoon the weather was good, and I enjoyed a round of golf with friends however halfway through the golf I started to feel exceptionally cold and my body ached. Immediately after the golf was over I headed home and went straight to bed as I was starting to feel like I was getting the flu. The next morning every bone and muscle in my body was aching, and I had a high temperature. I felt so ill and unable to get out of bed and almost immediately I lost my appetite along with my sense of taste and smell. 

After a couple of days in bed, I decided I would feel better if I took a shower to freshen up. No sooner I was in the shower and I passed out! Thankfully, my wife and daughter were in the house and heard me fall and they rushed to help. As they helped me back to bed, I passed out again. Fortunately, my daughter who is training to be a nurse was able to put me into a recovery position, whilst my wife called paramedics.

Stay at home and self-isolate

The paramedics arrived and immediately changed into their full PPE suits, after numerous medical checks, they were convinced I had coronavirus symptoms. Their advice was to still stay at home and self-isolate, but things just did not improve, and I got progressively worse. By this point, I had all the coronavirus symptoms including high temperature, cough, flu-like symptoms, and loss of smell and taste. Worryingly because I had not eaten for nearly two weeks, I lost 2 stone in weight. Which left me feeling weak and completely exhausted.  

My wife rushed me to hospital 

The NHS 111 automated message recommends that people displaying coronavirus symptoms to stay at home, but things were getting more serious. My breathing had become laboured which was when we were advised by neighbours who work for the NHS to go to St Georges A&E.  

Upon arriving at the hospital, we were directed to the special quarantined area, my wife explained my symptoms and two nurses signalled to me to get out of the car and make my way towards them. As I made my way towards them, I could feel myself about to pass out again however I somehow managed to stagger into the hospital. At this point, my wife was immediately instructed to leave and there was no chance for either of us to say goodbye. As I entered the hospital, I felt extremely nervous not knowing what to expect. At that point, I did not really appreciate how serious things were about to get.

After having countless checks and tests which included a temperature reading of 39.8, and an inconclusive test for COVID-19, I was transferred to the Cavell Ward, dedicated to Coronavirus patients who would either stay here or who are transferred into ICU depending on how seriously ill they are. The reason my breathing was so poor was that my oxygen saturation levels were exceptionally low and as such, I was immediately placed on oxygen and an intravenous drip. It was extremely unnerving to see patients being wheeled in and off of the ward, not knowing where they were going or if in fact, they were going to survive. The gravitas of the situation started to sink in and started to affect my mental health and I started to think that this could be the end of the road for me. 

Fortunately, for me over the next few days, my health started to improve though I still felt extremely vulnerable and weak, and at night I would feel particularly emotional.

All the staff at St Georges were excellent, however, there was one nurse on the night shift by the name of Colette who had such a happy & jolly disposition in addition to being a wonderful nurse. At night when I was often feeling at my lowest, Colette would spend time talking to me about various subjects including shopping at Ikea Croydon, her grandchildren and her allotment, all of which took my mind off my illness and the seriousness of the situation. Thankfully, I stayed on the Cavell ward and was not transferred to ICU.

On the road to recovery

After 4 days in hospital, my oxygen levels improved and physically I was in better shape. Since being discharged I stayed in bed for a further 5 weeks and am still recovering. I get incredibly fatigued after doing very little, nonetheless, my energy levels are gradually improving with each day that passes. However, it is the emotional side which has affected me the most, there is not a day that doesn’t go by where I don’t feel grateful about getting better. Especially when you watch the tragic daily news reports about people that have lost their lives to COVID-19. 

It was an experience I would never wish upon anyone.

This year started full of promise, especially as Lanview were celebrating 30 years in business. Fortunately, nothing drastic has changed for me or the business – but it has made me value and appreciate all I have and motivated me to keep looking forward with hope for a positive and healthy future.

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