Tuesday, 02 June 2020

I survived coronavirus only months after heart attack

I survived coronavirus only months after heart attack

A MAN who nearly died from a heart attack five months ago has now overcome coronavirus.

David Wright, 66, and his wife Jan, 65, were both infected with covid-19 while on a skiing holiday in France a week before the lockdown began.

Two days after returning to their home in St Mark’s Road, Henley, he began showing cold-like symptoms which got worse over the course of about three days.

Mr Wright, a retired vascular surgeon, then showed signs of a high temperature which lasted a few days and meant he couldn’t get out of bed.

He said that he was certain that he picked up the virus on the last day of their six-day holiday in Chamonix when he was saying goodbye to a woman with whom they shared a chalet.

“It was a hug and a kiss,” he said. “They weren’t aware that they had it but two days later she admitted that she had been experiencing covid-like symptoms.”

Eight of the 14 people in the chalet contracted the virus, which was confirmed to them on WhatsApp, which they used to stay in touch during the trip.

Mr Wright said members of the group were not too worried because they did not then realise the seriousness of the virus.

He recalled: “When she messaged us we were all pretty calm and polite. If I think back to then, the mindset was different.

“At that stage, coronavirus was seen as a Chinese and Italian problem. We were fit and healthy and so we thought it shouldn’t bother us. This was very typical of many people.”

Mr Wright admits that once he began to develop symptoms he still felt “smug” as they were only mild at first.

He said: “On the Tuesday after we had returned home I started to feel a bit unwell with what you would consider as regular cold symptoms. I experienced three or four days of that and I didn’t feel too bad at all. I thought I was getting better until, quite abruptly, I felt worse and worse. I began showing a temperature, which lasted another two or three days. Then, one night, I felt better.

“The second phase was substantially worse than the first and I did feel pretty awful and had to stay in bed.”

His wife began to show symptoms about two days after him, although she was probably infected at the same time.

Mr Wright said: “Jan had a significantly more severe second phase than I did and she was really, really unwell for four days and was in bed a lot longer than that.

“I certainly thought about calling 111 as it was that bad and perhaps if it had gone on for another day I would have definitely taken some action.

“My recovery was pretty instantaneous and it didn’t take long before I was up and about but it took Jan about a week to get back to normal and get her energy levels back.” He added: “The most striking feature of our cases was our loss of taste, which has been one of the big findings of the covid-19 symptoms.”

The couple’s youngest son, Jimmy, 26, a consultant for a renewable energy firm, has been living with them after his office was shut down and told he could work from home.

He moved in the day before his father began showing symptoms of the virus and knew his parents were planning to self-isolate.

He was able to help his parents get through the virus and, despite being in such close proximity, he did not pick it up himself.

Friends of the family went shopping for them on two occasions. “That got us through,” said Mr Wright “Not that we really wanted to eat anything.”

He contracted the virus just months after collapsing during a squash match at Henley leisure centre.

His heart stopped for 10 minutes and he was given CPR by staff and then revived with the use of a defibrillator before having emergency surgery at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

Mr Wright, who is chairman of Henley Squash Club, said the virus was one of three incidents that could have been the death of him but he has not let it affect him.

He said: “Apart from my heart attack, I think I’ve had one other near miss. I was knocked off my bicycle when I was 20, so I’ve probably lost three lives. But I feel pretty positive about everything and I am not feeling nervous or frightened and I’m not taking any special precautions.”

Mr Wright, who is also a member of Upper Thames Rowing Club, says he is looking forward to getting back on the water in a single scull.

In the meantime he has been spending the lockdown period going on walks, running and indulging in his hobby of pottery in his garden shed. He has also been tending his allotment at Watermans.

Mr Wright said he was one of the many former NHS staff who had volunteered to return if he was needed during the coronavirus crisis.

“I am on the list but they haven’t sounded me out,” he said. “The way it works is they call and offer you a job.

“My last phase of work in the NHS was as a drug developer but my drug prescribing knowledge is about 20 years out of date. I was also a clinical surgeon but they have cancelled all of those procedures.

“If I was offered a job that I thought I could do, I would do it, given my brushes with mortality, but I think at this stage I doubt I will be asked.”

Mr Wright said he felt the Government should have started the lockdown earlier and that the lack of testing for covid-19 had been the biggest issue.

He said: “Neither I nor my wife has been tested for the virus so we can’t say we have definitely had it. Without tests you could have people with undiagnosed symptoms spreading it around.

“I don’t disagree with the current revision of the guidelines but the emphasis should be shifted.

“Any person who has mild cold symptoms should stay away from work and self-isolate and either it develops into coronavirus or it goes away of its own accord.

“I think that would have a greater impact on theoverall health of the population by keeping those people out of circulation and helping minimise the infection rate.”

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