FIT and healthy Richard Jones, 39, from Llanelli credits his fiancée Vicky Williams with saving his life when he became very unwell with COVID-19.
After spending the day working in the garden, Richard developed a temperature. Thinking it to be sunstroke, he brushed it off. However, over the following week his symptoms began to intensify.
Richard, who works as a Super-yacht Electrical Technical Officer, recounts “During the evenings, I would feel very cold, sweating profusely, despite being extremely warm to touch. I’d had a tickly cough the previous week but nothing extreme to cause any concern and had felt well until the day I’d been painting in the back.
“Within a few days, my cough became more severe quickly and I would have really bad coughing fits throughout the day and night. We were aware a cough and temperature were typical symptoms of COVID-19 so did consider this may be the cause. I had only been food shopping locally for the family and aside from that had been self-isolating anyway so we continued to do so hoping my condition would naturally improve by itself.
“However, within a few days it quickly got much worse and I began coughing up phlegm and blood. My fiancée Vicky was very concerned but I genuinely thought I was okay and had picked up a normal virus. I had lost a lot of weight due to lack of appetite and also my complexion became very pale. At one point Vicky also noted my lips had a blue outline – which we now know is a sign of lack of oxygen.”
After Vicky witnessed Richard coughing up blood, she immediately rang 111, who advised him to go to Prince Philip Hospital’s red zone straight away. Richard says, “I really feel her actions helped saved my life by raising the alarm with the medical team.”
“On arrival at the hospital, my blood pressure and heart rate were both concerningly high which is indicative of an infection. My oxygen level had also dropped to 89, I believe anything under 93 is considered a concern and my x ray was later described as like “looking at shattered glass.
“I had a mouth swab to test for COVID-19 and was advised at this point it’s likely this is what I had. I had also been experiencing extreme pain in my right side,” Richard said, “following all test results it was concluded I had secondary severe pneumonia as a result of COVID-19. It was very serious and at one point it was considered putting me in ICU to assist with my breathing.”
Richard stayed in hospital for 11 days in total. He was treated with antibiotics and steroids through an IV drip and received oxygen for seven days. He also had physiotherapy support to help with the coughing pains. Now home for over four weeks, he says his strength and mobility has improved greatly, but his chest only feels 50% back to normal.
Richard attributes the support from his fiancée Vicky and family, as well as the team at Prince Philip Hospital with helping him get through his experience with COVID pneumonia.
“All the staff that I met in PPH were excellent especially Professor Keir Lewis and his fellow doctors. Also a huge thanks to the ward sisters Laura and Amber and all the staff who worked with them during my stay including the healthcare assistants and kitchen staff.
“Even though they were head to toe in full PPE each time I met them, I remembered their voices and how supporting and encouraging they were each time I met them. They made a very difficult time more manageable by being normal at a time for me that was abnormal.”
Fiancée Vicky said, “It was really tough not being able to visit Richard as he had been so unwell and I just wanted to give him a cwtch and tell him everything would be okay. We utilised technology as much as possible to see each other virtually and were so happy when he was finally able to come home. We as a family are extremely grateful to all the staff at PPH for the help they provided during Richard’s time in hospital and the support he has received since, from the bottom of our hearts thank you.”
Summing up his experience, Richard says, “Please don’t be afraid to get your symptoms checked at the earliest opportunity. I had left mine too late,” and “to continue to follow Government advice re COVID, stay home and stay safe. All I had done was essential food shopping. COVID does not discriminate against anyone. I was young, fit and healthy and could have died had it not been for my fiancée not accepting when I told her I was “okay” and also the amazing skills of the medical team at Prince Philip Hospital.”