Banbury man shares harrowing but moving experience of having Covid-19

'I wanted to share my experience because I believe the more real it feels for people the more likely they are to protect themselves and others from it.'

At left, Rob Hutt in hospital and at right Rob with his son, Finley upon returning home
At left, Rob Hutt in hospital and at right Rob with his son, Finley upon returning home

A Banbury man who spent nearly a week in hospital due to Covid-19 has shared a moving heartfelt testimonial of his experience with the illness.

Rob Hutt wrote a harrowing yet honest account of his experience with Covid and posted it on the Banbury Info community Facebook page to share with others.

He has agreed to share his experience with the Banbury Guardian readers, which is as follows:

"I want to share my experience of getting Covid because it was possibly the worst time of my life and had a profound effect on me as an individual, partner and father.

"Two weeks ago my partner Aggie was locked away in our bedroom after a positive Covid test and I was ferrying trays with meals and plenty of drinks back and forth to keep her as comfortable as possible. Aggie's symptoms were mild to moderate and she was clearly uncomfortable and struggling the week she spent in that room. I was both exhausted and proud of myself for stepping up with the care for both Aggie and our children, which I wasn't used to managing on my own and which resulted in long days with a renewed sense of appreciation for the job Aggie does everyday.

"Despite our best efforts of isolation, towards the end of that week I started to experience some mild symptoms myself so I ordered a home test for myself and our three children Finley, aged one, Ella, aged three, and Emma, aged nine. To our grim suspicion we all tested positive. Thankfully the children's symptoms were mild although not altogether absent. Finley had a rash and a temperature and Emma had a temperature and headaches.

"As my symptoms quickly worsened, Aggie and my roles quickly flipped as she become a somewhat premature carer whilst still bouncing back from the virus herself. This was a real concern because I had received countless letters and texts from the NHS over the last 10 months telling me that I was extremely vulnerable to the virus and that if I contracted it, I may become very ill. This was a result of my asthma and how quickly other respiratory infections had affected my lungs in the past.

"I started to go down hill quickly and within a day or so I had a constant 39C + temperature combined with excruciating head pains that felt like they were firing across my temple every 15-20 seconds relentlessly. I felt extremely weak and my muscles were aching like I'd ran a marathon and very quickly the only means I could move around was on my hands and knees. My thought was swollen and it felt like anything I swallowed was going down with a side of glass. My stomach was all over the place and I was suffering from constant diarrhoea.

"Next started the feeling of nausea putting me off the small amount of food I could stomach up to this point. I started to feel very dizzy and disorientated partly from the temperature and partly as a direct result of my body fighting the virus.

"All of these symptoms I could handle, even after five days of experiencing them because I told myself this was as bad as its going to get and I could ride it out, albeit uncomfortably in my bed and on the sofa surrounded by my partner and children.

"This was the point I started to develop breathing difficulties and a cough and very much started to panic. By this point my body was so weak already from the first week caring for Aggie and the kids, the second week from the fever and all of the other symptoms that I didn't feel like I was strong enough to now fight the breathlessness.

"I reached out to a doctor at this point and at 1am in the morning they came out to drop off some antibiotics whilst they stood at the end of the drive. I remember sitting on the porch in my dressing gown sweating and coughing and thanking the doctor, feeling like the situation had become very surreal. I could see the outside world and the sub zero temperatures were comforting on my fever but inside the house had started to feel very detached from the rest of the world.

"Almost as soon as I got back in and I'd taken the antibiotics I was throwing them up into the toilet bowl. We called the doctor again and he suggested I try again in the morning on a full stomach.

"The next morning I tried the antibiotics again and the second time the reaction was more intense. I started to get cold sweats and heart palpitations before throwing them up with blood.

"After several more calls with the Covid helpline my breathing started to further deteriorate until later that day we were debating at what point to call an ambulance. Towards the end of the afternoon the heaviness and inefficiency of my lungs to capture a proper breath coupled with a gruelling 40C fever started becoming a real concern. I felt panicked and I asked Aggie to help me into a cool shower to try and bring some relief from the fever.

"At the point the water hit my body my breathing simply stopped like my lungs had been capped. I started to have a panic attack and I gasped to Aggie that I couldn't breath at all. I'm not a small man but Aggie managed to take the majority of my weight so I could kneel on the bedroom floor bent over the bed trying to tell myself not to panic and that the human body could still function with the small amount of air I could physically pull into my lungs.

"At this point it was obvious that I was beyond the care Aggie could provide fro me at home and she called 999.

"By far the worst moment of this entire experience was telling my children that daddy was going into hospital despite months of reassuring them that mummy and daddy were strong and were being careful so would be fine. They were scared, confused and inconsolable and all I could do was wave at them whilst a paramedic helped me into the side of the ambulance.

"I spent the next five days in Horton Hospital on oxygen, a drip four times a day to both re-hydrate and administer some Covid treatment, a course of blood thinning injections because Covid thickens the blood and can cause blood clots, a type of antibiotics that luckily I didn't react badly to, a course of steroids to help heal the lungs, paracetamol to bring my temperature down and some experimental medication as part of a new Covid trial.

"Although my memory of this period is hazy due to a combination of the medication, oxygen and fever. Some things still stand out as clear as day.

"The doctors, nurses, care and housekeeping staff on the ward I was on were absolutely incredible. They performed their duties with the utmost professionalism despite clearly being fatigued from months and months of people passing through these wards. Some people leaving to be reunited with their families and some sadly losing their fight with Covid on the ward.

"This was the thing that really landed a punch with me, when the doctor first talked about survival rates. I'd seen the statistics on the news almost every night. I'd seen the segments when a reporter visits a Covid ward and interviews the patients and staff. But I was now lying on one of these wards and an actual doctor was talking to me about survival rates and how the next few days were critical to my recovery. I was lying in my hospital bed with a fever, hardly able to move with an oxygen tube up my nose listening to what he was saying.

"I was in a room with four other men, one when I could save up enough breath to, I would talk to who was in his early 60's. He was there when I arrived on the ward, he went home and had to come back to hospital shortly afterwards after relapsing. I'm thankful for his company, it felt like a link back to the real world and a lifeline at times.

"The other two gentlemen were both from the same local care home and were suffering from dementia. It was heartbreaking to see them so ill with Covid and so confused that they were attempting to rip their oxygen masks off and tearing their drips out to escape. It was in the middle of the nights after hours of them struggling that the nurses were at their best. They never lost their patience or compassion and they always acted with dignity.

"I missed my sons first birthday when I was in hospital and that made me really down on that day. My family decided to postpone his birthday until I was back home, which thankfully I am now. We marked the occasion with a low key celebration so we had some pictures to look back on.

"I've been home for just over a week when I write this and I've been cuddling and kissing my partner and children, holding them closer than ever before because I know what it feels like to be apart from them, believing that there was a chance at some point that I may never see them again.

"I can't quite get up the stairs without chasing my breathing and I still feel very weak, but I'm getting stronger everyday. I'm told not to expect to be back to full health for up to eight weeks so I'm taking a day at a time.

"I wasn't as ill as some have been with Covid. I didn't end up on a ventilator, but I did have to fight for every breath at one stage. I was probably worse than the average person that gets Covid and it was a life changing experience for me.

"I wanted to share my experience because I believe the more real it feels for people the more likely they are to protect themselves and others from it.

"It was very much real for me and I will be forever in debt to my partner Aggie, my beautiful children and all of the wonderful NHS staff that supported me throughout my experience.

"I will be eternally thankful for all of the messages of support from my friends and family that I hope to be reunited with soon. I love you all.

"I encourage everyone to be wise, to arm yourselves with the facts and not hearsay about this virus.

"I hope you don't get it. I hope if you do, your symptoms are mild or non-existent, and if you do fall ill, I hope you make your way home like I did to your family soon."