Paul Jones of Southam, near Cheltenham, is recovering from COVID-19 after his wife, Gerry, took care of him at their home. The retired microbiologist refused to take him to the hospital.
She did not get the virus and shared a diary she kept while her husband fought what she described as “her worst illness of all time”. You can read his diary, which was originally written for a COVID-19 Cheltenham Facebook page, below.
Jones said, “It was like being hit by a train. You lose all your energy. You burn all the time.
“You just have to fight your way through it.” Mentally, there were times when I was very weak. “
The 71-year-old man who works in the financial sector has lost a stone and a half in weight since the first onset of symptoms of the disease on March 12.
He recovered well but did not return to full form.
He said, “Generally speaking, I feel pretty good. But I go for a walk every afternoon and after about 10 minutes, I am out of breath.
“I am still far from having returned to the level I was at. I think it will be another two weeks, at least. “
The story of Paul Covid-19, through Gerry’s journal
I just want to say that my husband, 62, fit and healthy, got the virus in Derby when he was on contract. I’m 71, I’m asthmatic and high risk, so what a dilemma I’m taking care of.
Day 1: Paul came home from work yesterday. At first the symptoms were mild, no cough more like a cold, and we both thought it was fine, but I think I had better sleep in the guest room just in case. At this point, I must tell you that I am a former microbiologist, although many years ago I also worked in a cardiac unit, then I got into digital medical imaging for a few companies, training doctors in telemedicine and PACS, which was new for the NHS at the time.
Day 2: He was working at home, eating normally and drinking wine with a meal, his temperature was increasing slightly, but he said he was not feeling bad, that he was sleeping well.
3rd day: I woke up and said he was feeling a lot better, so I worked at home again, we ate a good lunch and I thought the symptoms were mild, as they had said. That night on the couch, he said I was not feeling well, so WHAM, he said it was like being hit with a hot wrecking ball. He went to bed around 7:00 p.m., he looked bad, red eyes, red face, shivering but hot and sweaty, he didn’t want to eat dinner. Unlike Paul because he loved his food.
Day 4: Now in bed all the time, the temperature going from 38.5 to 39, he says he feels horrible, he looks horrible, I’m not too worried at the moment, because I had the Hong Kong flu in 1969 and I know what a virus can do to your body, plus several lung infections and pneumonia twice, and as an asthmatic, I can’t get this new virus. Paul also needs me.
I keep the fluids for him by filling jugs with water and trying to get him to drink, not easy when all he wants is to sleep.
In my head, I set up a new cleaning program, even if I had followed the advice of the government and washed my hands and wiped the surfaces with antibac wipes, I would go even further. I have no symptoms at the moment.
Day 5: Still no cough, but very high temperatures, complete exhaustion, loss of appetite, tired was not the word, it was as if sleep had conquered him. But we only have one bathroom, which turned out to be difficult.
Food wasn’t too much of a problem since he only ate two Weetabixes a day, but getting him to drink and take paracetamol was not easy with a person who just wanted to sleep. I am his caregiver now and I am determined to treat him and not go to the hospital. Would he ever go out? (Living)
6th day: I don’t sleep as much now as I start to worry, the government tells us that the symptoms are mild and after 7 days of isolation, you can go out. WHAT we are on day 6 and he can pretty much get out of bed to go to the bathroom.
BANG his temperature has risen above 40.
Paracetamol every 4 hours does not have much effect. I keep telling him to drink and sit because I know this virus attacks your lungs so completely lying down is not good, but he yells at me that he just wants to sleep, I’m desperate. The neighbors provide us with basic food, and I have to stay because I’m at high risk, it’s a joke, he was fit and healthy, he has it, I don’t have it yet, still none symptom for me.
7th day: Intermittent cough. Now the temperature 39-40 hasn’t eaten anything today, it’s okay, he was overweight, so don’t worry. Loss of taste and odor, tea, he said, tasted sick, he doesn’t want tea now, nor coffee. Wow, this is a very different virus. His eyes are painful and red and he looks awful, his red face is getting redder and clearly very very sick. Still not seated.
It changes the game, I have to make him drink because I notice that his urine is quite dark, I feel isolated, what I am, but isolated with a sick man who is my husband. I need a drink, I open prosecco in the fridge, oh Paul normally does the piece of cork, it doesn’t matter if I can do it.
These 3 glasses were great. My only way out was to walk my dog Dylan, which is like winning the lottery every time I go out, walking, except every time I see someone else pass by, chat from a distance, little world these days and no cars. So different from last week when the Cheltenham Festival was on, Southam Lane was packed with cars, and you can see the racetrack screens from my bedroom window and hear the speakers, everything is quiet there now , only the birds sing. Oh, was that an airplane I can see in the sky?
Day 8/9: About the same as yesterday. High temperature, still very high, ruddy face, chills but hot, more pronounced loss of taste and smell because the Weetabix needed more sugar, even if I had put it, without loads, on it.
He didn’t talk to me much except to ask for water, orange juice or his Weetabix, I noticed that he hadn’t been using his phone for a few days, so unlike Paul because his phone was an extension with his right arm, he sinks into depression I thought, he had already been depressed before, he said that the darkness had passed him and that he had been on Prozac for 6 months, does it happening now?
He was also angry, angry with me and with himself. He told me that he didn’t know why he couldn’t control the virus, why didn’t he get better? What can I do to make it better? Yes, Paul is a bit of a control freak, but he says so do I. I asked him to sit down. I can’t, he says, it’s not comfortable, I want to sleep now. So I leave the room and watch the news.
Yes, I had eagerly watched the daily briefings, depressing, hope was gone for many, lock a new word, more dead in Italy, oh these photos at the Italian hospital made me think it could happen here .
Then there was the government who still said that most would make it sweet for 7 days. So, in my head, I think you are having mild symptoms for 7 days or that you will die. Death was everywhere, the headlines. This deadly virus, how many died today, how many caught it, was there nothing between sweetness and death? Then, when I told my friends that Paul was very sick, I suspected it was Covid-19, most said, “Sorry, poor fellow. It was like being back in the 80s when someone told someone else that they had AIDS, it was a death sentence. So Covid-19 was a death sentence if you hadn’t had it sweet, and although most of the deaths were those with underlying conditions, mostly elderly people, the media now pointed out that healthy young people and healthy were dead.
10th day: It was around 9 p.m. and his temperature climbed to over 40, and said he couldn’t breathe deeply and when I looked at him, I could see the fear in his eyes, that’s when I called 111, yes, it took centuries to pass, but I hung on, describing the symptoms, answering their questions, they said yes, it was probably Covid, but I was then told that a doctor was going to call.
The doctor called back and was 99.9% sure it was Covid, he said he was not worried about the high temperature because his body was fighting this terrible virus, but he said to Paul, you will get out, you are in good shape. The advice was to sit in bed, move around if possible, drink as much as possible and improve. If you need help, you can call your surgery. It was enough to let go of the fear in his head.
Day 11: Paul is still very sick, the temperature is still high and so low that he can barely stand, but he wanted clean sheets on his bed. My microbiology brain came to zoom in, “Paul, you have to take them downstairs yourself and put them in the washing machine.” He didn’t know how to change the temperature so I did that, they were washed at 95 degrees and then hung on the line.
Goodbye, horrible coronavirus on my sheets. The new sheets I could make, and he was happy now that the feeling of fresh cotton 1000 thread count sheets would make everyone feel better. Although he sat down more, it was for short periods of time, and every time I asked him to sit down, he said “stop harassing me”, was he better? Not sure because he was still sleeping a lot.
Day 12: Neighbors always bringing supplies to my door, I had three separate neighbors bringing me various basics. How weird! but wonderful, what great neighbors I have.
Paul suddenly asked for orange juice, which was delivered to our door with bread, eggs and milk, and oh yes chocolate cookies, and I managed to get our local dairies to deliver milk and other dairy products next week will be so good. I also ordered wine from M&S, I haven’t had red wine in a week, only Proseco left Panto in January, The Wizard of Gloz. Thinking I could do with a wizard now to make this bloody virus hell.
Anyway, my red wine should have been delivered now, where the hell is it? I still can’t get a food delivery niche, I’ve been trying for centuries.
Today, I also stopped watching and listening to the news, just to listen to the daily broadcast on Sky by the PM and the Surgeon General. I’m a big fan of radio, Live Radio 5 and Radio 2, but so many opposition politicians blaming the government for that, just want to know what they would have done different, damn these politicians.
Just Radio 2 now, Rylan on Saturday was so funny with his best jokes, I laughed so much that I almost forgot that I had a sick husband upstairs. I am also a quilt, so making a spiderman quilt for my 4 year old grandson was also a big distraction. Who would have thought that Spiderman and Rylan would be so comforting on a sunny Saturday. Isolation, not good. Paul’s temperature is now 38 years old, and I go up and down so often now, I feel perfectly fit for a 71 year old man at high risk.
Now, 10 p.m., Paul asleep, I can hang out downstairs with a little more Prosecco, Dylan on the couch as usual asleep, I don’t normally go to bed until 12 noon, so I watched Ghosts on catch-up. Hilarious, it made me laugh so much, but weird to think that a program on the dead would make me happy with laughter.
Time to go to bed.
I am standing next to his bed, bedside cabinets strewn with empty paracetamol sachets, a thermometer, two empty glasses, a half-empty jug, I wonder how many viruses are on it. I quietly put them in a bag and take the ground floor to the dishwasher, then rub my hands for 20 seconds in hot water. Today I washed her towels at 95 degrees. Go back up the stairs to hopefully sleep peacefully. Tonight was the first night when I felt like I wouldn’t keep looking at him to see if he was okay, much like a sick child.
13th day: He is much better today, the temperature has practically dropped to normal, but very very low. Eat more but we can both see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have so many good comments on the Facebook page that it was so comforting, that so many others are going through the same thing, and that we are all afraid, all in the same boat with this virus that swims by our side.
I am happy to be able to help and advise, if possible, more than 1,000 likes and comments now. Similar symptoms, especially taste and smell, I’m so glad I did that, I just hope it will end well.
I just want to thank these neighbors who helped shopping, if you are reading this, thank you Ruth, Matt and Steph and Robbie.
I hope this journal will give those in despair the hope that they will not improve, as most of us will, and this virus, as I just heard the PM, does not care not from whom he settled. So everyone stays safe and positive, as I saw firsthand, the mental side of it is just as damaging as the physical side of this disease.
Thanks for reading this.
14th day: Thank you all for your kind words at this difficult time, just for those who do not know.
I started writing this because the government says most have mild symptoms, and after 7 days you can stop isolating yourself, as Boris and Mat said yesterday, the other extreme seemed to be death. As this is our personal case and yesterday was the 13th day, there seemed to be nothing in between, so I diarized Paul Covid-19 disease.
Most of you know me as a screenwriter of our amdram pantos, the last being the magician of Gloz at Prestbury Hall in January for the benefit of James Hopkins Trust in Gloucester, and also to give pleasure to the villages of Prestbury, Woodmancote and Southam. and laughter, so I had to resist saying Oh no, it isn’t and He’s behind you in this newspaper.
Many of you have asked how I feel. So how do I feel? Sometimes lonely, exhausted going up and down stairs with drinks and food, but blessed, I have great and wonderful neighbors. It’s almost like taking care of a very stubborn sick child. But above all worried, for Paul, and to know if he is still contagious, the government says 7 days and 14 days if the two are infected. As an ex microbiologist, my scientific brain wants to know these answers and why some of the symptoms we all know are not included in the news.
Paul ate better, but still wants to sleep flat, against the doctor’s advice, so this morning he told me that he had come down the stairs because he felt he could not have enough oxygen in his lungs, so he sat on the couch. He also opened a large brown package he thought was a new cereal, only to find that with milk it tasted terrible – no wonder, it was dried yeast flakes for making bread.
This morning, still in bed, complaining about not being able to breathe, which is worrisome, but obviously part of the illness, but telling him to sit down was frustrating.
So I asked her to explain more. What he felt, he said, was that he felt stuffed in his lungs, which is what I sometimes feel like being asthmatic. So I have a nebulizer at home, with a Ventolin solution and a saline solution to use with the nebulizer. Although I am not asthmatic, I gave him the Ventolin on the nebulizer. I should point out that this was NOT done on medical advice, but on my own personal advice.
Then he said he felt his airways were open, which is exactly what Ventolin does in the spray. I’m probably going to be in medical trouble for telling you this, but I kept talking about his symptoms, which, as a former microbiologist, in the 60s and 70s, no modeling graphics at the time. Oh I have to stop saying what I think.
I also have one of those little pressure inhalers and a salt hose to use when I’m sick with asthma that I gave her. Stuffed lungs or unpadded lungs, it seems to me that I made the right choice, if not a medical decision. Its temperature remains around 37.4, which is better than 40.
It is now around 1:30 p.m. I showered, I got dressed and I made up, you can’t see it without my eyebrows, mascara and lipstick, you never know who will see you through the front door window .
Many of you have asked how I keep the symptoms avoided. See bacteria under the microscope and in poop, sick urine, etc. I always liked bleach in the bathroom, and I have at least two bottles on hand near the toilet, Paul doesn’t seem to know they exist, and as a man always leaves the seat toilets. So I tore paper and use it to close it, I regularly spray it with a mold destroyer, contains bleach, because I would like to keep my antibacterial wipes for the door handles and l bleach for the inside of the toilet.
I can go over some things, but if I take her plates and cups downstairs, I put them in a bag, with my latex gloves, then directly in the dishwasher. Sheets of clothes, I asked him to put the washing machine and put the soap capsule in it, he did not know how to use the raised temperature button, so I do that and I wash the sheets and towels at 95 degrees and his clothes at 65 degrees, hard if they shrink. I wiped all doorknobs and taps the night before bed and bought sterilization tablets from Amazon to keep her toothbrush free from germs. Our electric toothbrush is just moow his, because he has to handle it regularly. I use my travel toothbrush.
I’m not a doctor, remember, but I expect a healthcare professional to try to give him Ventolin, but I don’t care, it worked for him and he is my husband .
It is now almost 1 p.m., and Paul says that, although weak, he still feels better. Day 14 ½ finished.
I wish Boris, our PM, Matt Hancock and Chris, the Surgeon General, a speedy recovery and hope their mild symptoms do not worsen as we have experienced here.
I hope you stay safe and secure and enjoy your free time, stay positive and if you need medical help, ask for 111, but hang in there. As Dory says, keep swimming.
15th day: Last night Paul was a bit breathless so he had a little more nebulized Ventolin, he said it was like breathing fresh air. Remember, this is not on medical advice just my opinion.
I admit I had a bit of a hangover because my 12 bottles of red wine came from 6 bottles of Argentinian Malbec and 6 bottles of Merlot. So I opened a Malbec, paradise but in a good way.
I always get up first these days, unusual as before the pandemic, I was not an early bird, Paul was normally up at 6:30 a.m. and either on the highway or working early in his office, I am happy to stay in bed listening to Nicky and Rachel on Radio 5 live. So different now, I wake up early, often awake at 6:30 am, I get up to feed Dylan, I make a cup of tea for myself and I arrive at Paul’s house, often he sleeps.
Today the hangover, so around 9:30 am, feeling guilty, I check, “How are you feeling? “
This morning, he says he feels good, still very weak but he turned the corner.
Thank you very much everyone for being part of his story, please, please be positive, if you have that, because the mental side is so strong.
I pray and I hope that if one of you goes through this ordeal, we are all here for you, be patient because it is the 15th day of this terrible virus.
Remember that 15 days ago, Paul had very mild symptoms for about 3 days, then hit the hot demolition ball. he went through the worst disease of all time, but he came out on the other end. No one knows the long term effects of this disease, but everyone, stay inside if you can, stay safe and continue to be part of this group. If you are worried or have questions, many of us are here for you, and will give you hope, as we have experienced this and survived.
I love you all