Covid-19: ‘I never felt ill’

It’s been three months since my dad came out of hospital after a month with Covid-19, including time spent on a ventilator.

Since then, he has made a remarkable recovery. Within about six weeks, you would never have guessed he’d been ill. He’s got no long Covid. No depression or PTSD. It is incredible.

For me, I still get a couple of flashbacks a week to things that happened when he was in hospital. These memories are enough to bring tears to me eyes. I remember running to my mum’s house for the second time in a day – just hours after I’d run there because he’d been admitted to intensive care.

My neighbour said: ‘How’s your dad?’

I blurted out: ‘He’s going on a ventilator’ and I kept running.

She was the first person I’d told apart from my immediate family. That wasn’t how I’d intended to tell people, but sometimes there isn’t the time to do something gently.

I remember the absolute devastation two days later when the doctor called my mum and told her that my dad was the sickest person in the hospital.

THE SICKEST PERSON IN THE HOSPITAL DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC. That is scary. She was told that they were doing everything they could for him, but to prepare for the worst.

Then there was the absolute elation only a day later when he came off the ventilator. I was absolutely walking on air.

My dad was awake. Breathing. Sitting up in bed.

Now when I see images of patients on ventilators on the TV, I can’t believe that my dad was in that situation. That he had that many tubes, that much machinery, that many people around his bed monitoring him. It must have been just like that for him, but it’s so hard to get my head round.

Because the weird thing is, I never believed that my dad was that ill. Right until he went into intensive care, I was talking to him on the phone every day and when I asked how he was, he would say something like ‘I’m not too bad’. I thought he was just trying to humour us.

At the time he was first ill, my son’s fried was also ill with Covid-19. He’s 20 and couldn’t get out of bed for three days. My dad was 75 and still getting up, dressed and having a shave every day. My mum and brother thought he needed to be in hospital, but I thought he didn’t because he was getting out of bed every day. He wasn’t even as ill as my son’s friend!

There is no question that he really was that ill. That he is very lucky to still be here. That he could very easily have died.

(I wonder if he’d been ill in the first wave if he would have pulled through. Or if he’d been ill a few weeks later in the second wave, when the hospitals were getting overwhelmed? Would resources have been put into saving younger patients at the expense of my 75-year-old dad?)

But it turns out that I wasn’t mad for thinking that he wasn’t that ill.

Because, a few weeks ago, my dad said that the funny thing was: ‘That I never felt ill’.

He felt weak and tired (more so after the ventilator), but he didn’t actually feel ill.

We know now that Covid-19 behaves in multiple different ways. The way it behaved for my dad was particularly scary.

My dad was suffering from ‘happy (or silent) hypoxia’. His oxygen was depleted, yet he had no idea. He wasn’t breathless. He didn’t even feel ill.  This is why some people, particularly younger patients, have died of Covid at home, with no idea of how ill they were.

I’m so glad my mum and brother pushed to get him an ambulance when they did. My dad didn’t himself didn’t feel ill enough for it and I didn’t think he was ill enough, but his oxygen levels told a different story.

As we come out of the second wave and the coronavirus cases continue to fall, I’m hopeful that we won’t see a third wave. But, if we do, please remember my dad’s story!

Covid-19 makes you feel really ill. Except when it doesn’t. And not feeling ill can be the deadliest thing of all.

Ventilator, Intensive care unit, Hospital, Covid-19

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I am so glad your dad has totally recovered. My dad is doing great too. He still feels tired if he’s worked too hard but he does push himeself. They’ve been lucky.
    Sending love and hugs. It really does sound like a truly awful time for you and your family.
    That was what happened to my youngest girls best friends mum. She died from hypoxia. She was starting to feel better after Covid but just didn’t have enough oxygen. It really is scary x

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    • Thanks very much, it is such a relief! My dad doesn’t generally even feel tired, although he did wear himself out playing with my niece and nephew yesterday.
      So glad to hear your dad is doing well now too.
      I thought of your daughter’s friend’s mum when my dad said about never feeling ill. It is an unbelievably awful thing to happen.
      I’m so glad my mum and brother pushed for him to go to hospital. I think if he’d been 20 or 30 years younger, they probably wouldn’t have even come out to check him and he could have just stayed at home getting more and more ill. x

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      • This resonates with me, because I didnt feel that ill before I was hopsitalised. I had a bit of a cough and a bit of a headache, but really thought I was one of those people who had got away lighly. I didn’t even feel that breathless on the way up to the hospital, I just couldnt stop coughing.

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        • It is very strange and scary, isn’t it? Yet on the other hand I’ve heard of so many people who haven’t been ‘seriously’ ill who have felt absolutely dreadful. My dad was even on the phone to my mum on his way to intensive care!
          Thank goodness you both pulled through.

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  2. Firstly, I’m so glad your Dad has made a complete recovery and that he was lucky to get the treatment he needed at the right time. Secondly, thank you for sharing your story, if more people know this then it could save someone else’s life.

    Post a Reply
    • Thanks very much. He was very lucky indeed (although it didn’t feel like it when he was ill!). I’d heard of people with Covid unexpectedly dying at home and didn’t understand how they could be that ill and not in hospital, but my dad’s story explains it. It’s so important for people to get in touch with 111 and get their oxygen levels checked if they’ve got any concerns at all.

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  3. I’m so glad your dad made a full recovery with no lasting side effects. Those days seemed so so long especially when they put him into a coma. Happy hypoxia sounds terrifying, I’ve seen a few people go through that and it not end well for them. I wouldn’t wish COVID on anybody x

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    • Thanks very much. Those days did seem so long. He was only in hospital for five weeks, but at the time it felt like forever. I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone since he came out.
      I’m so sorry to hear that you know people who weren’t so lucky. I only know one other person who was admitted to hospital. She was in for a week, but luckily didn’t make it as far as intensive care. x

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  4. Your family is so lucky your father is well and safe. Your story is horrifying.

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    • Thanks very much. We are very lucky, although we didn’t feel it at the time!

      Post a Reply

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