'Your condition alters... without warning': My Covid-19 experience

Claire Fuller tested positive for the coronavirus and has since come out of hospital and is getting stronger each day.

She tells her story to ITV News and why everyone must stay at home and respect social distancing.

On Tuesday morning, March 31, I was admitted to Royal Devon & Exeter hospital via ambulance with suspected Covid-19 infection and suffering difficulties breathing.

I had been having symptoms of a dry cough since March 18, but had been well enough to continue working from home.

However, I had to go off sick from work from March 25 when the symptoms worsened and the fever arrived.

I contacted NHS 111 for advice because I have mild asthma.

Over the next few days, I managed my symptoms with paracetamol and rest but, suddenly, on Monday, March 30, I became very short of breath.

I phoned my local GP surgery and they treated me for worsening asthma symptoms.

On Tuesday, March 31, I realised I needed urgent medical support when I could not breath after walking to the bathroom.

The GP surgery sent an ambulance and, because of my oxygen levels, they took me to the hospital.

Claire's condition deteriorated rapidly. Credit: Claire Fuller

Once in A&E, I had lots of tests, blood, X-ray, Covid swabs, etc, and was given oxygen.

It was very strange as I was isolated and the staff were taking all the PPE precautions that they needed to.

The doctors said I most likely had Covid-19 and the X-ray confirmed it was in both lungs.

I was asked about my views on resuscitation.

That was when the situation became very real to me.

It was very scary and sobering, there is nothing the doctors and nurses can do, other than monitor your condition and deal with any changes.

The thing about this virus is your condition alters in a few minutes, without warning.

I was also asked to consider joining the Randomised Evaluation of COVid-19 thERapY (RECOVERY) trial.

I am very familiar with randomised control trials (RCT) through my work and I was keen to join if the test was positive.

I figured if all these medical professionals were putting themselves at risk by treating me, the least I could do was join the trial to try to identify the best treatments.

I was transferred to a ward and, again, asked about resuscitation.

Later, I was told I had tested positive for Covid-19 and would be moved to the bay.

I was asked again about the trial and I enrolled and randomised to Hydroxychloroquinine.

The first two doses are large to load your system, then you take two tablets twice a day until you leave hospital.

Claire urges the public to stay home.

I don’t know if the drug helped my recovery or not, but as more patient results are analysed, this will become clear.

I would urge everyone to join if they can so that the researchers can get the data they need, as quickly as possible, to produce evidence-based treatment guidelines.

It took several days on oxygen before I began to feel that I had turned a corner.

Weaning off the oxygen was a positive step towards going home.

I was in hospital for five days.

The most emotional moment was when the four ladies in my Covid bay clapped our NHS staff on Thursday evening.

Now I am home, I am weakened by the effects of the virus and the pneumonia.

The simplest of tasks are still exhausting me, but each day I get stronger.

I urge everyone to take this seriously, social distancing is not an option.

You or someone you care about, or someone you may never know, could become very ill very quickly.

There is no way of knowing, so protect each other and especially our amazing NHS staff by following the rules.

My daughter-in-law is an RAF nurse, my son a police officer, my daughter a teacher, I was worried about them facing this virus every day and it was me who got sick.

Keep everyone safe, stay indoors.

  • You can find out more about the Recovery Trial on their website

  • A real time tracker of the number of patients and hospitals who are taking part in the Recovery drug treatments is available here

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