At the end of February 2020, Bob, 63, came down with all the typical symptoms of COVID-19. He was rushed in for treatment at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

The symptoms were all the corona symptoms – the dry cough and everything else. I started to isolate myself at home and during that week I was running a fever for about six days.

Then my breathing started to get a little bit different, I was short of breath. I put up with it for the weekend, thinking that it would probably be alright after a couple of days.

But on the Monday I couldn’t breathe so I had to do a 999 call and they rushed me down to the BRI.

For quite a while all you see is masks and goggles.

My first week or so I don’t remember much really. I ended up on a high dependency ward. I had to spend about three weeks on a ventilator.

I nearly died. I was down to my last spark of life and I knew it. The doctors rung my wife and said the next 24 hours is crucial.

The coronavirus just saps your strength because you’re fighting it for so long with all these fevers, you just eventually run out of strength and steam. I can remember being at a point when I was just totally, totally exhausted. You have a job just to lift your arm. There was nothing left to give.

They said to me, honestly, there’s nothing we can give you for the virus. We can give you something to help with some of the symptoms the virus causes, but we’ve got nothing to give you to cure the virus or to kill the virus. You have to fight it.

Without the amount of care that the hospital gave me I wouldn’t be here today that’s for sure.

When I came home I still had shortness of breath. Even if I just got up to use the toilet it was as if I’d run round the block.

Every time I would get up to do something and get out of breath I would measure the amount of time it took me to get my breath back. That seemed to get longer so I thought I wasn’t quite right.

So I went back to A&E and they took me back up on the same ward and they did a couple of tests. They said I’d got a chest infection on top of everything.

You start to get a little bit better or you seem to improve slightly and then it just knocks you back off your feet again.

They sent me back home with five days of antibiotics, which sort of did the trick. But the following Saturday, I woke up in bed and I had chest pains. I had them for about four hours or so and they were getting worse so I took myself back down to the hospital and then spent another 10 days in hospital.

During all the tests they discovered that I’d got blood clots on the lungs so I’m now being treated for that. I’ll be on blood thinners for the next three to six months.

They knew that some people were getting clots but there was no indication into which particular people would or wouldn’t. It was like most things at the time – they were just learning.

One of the reasons I wanted to do something was because when I was in hospital, I spent quite a lot of time video calling the family, which makes a big difference really. I know that when I was on the point of live or not live, it was one of the things that just kept me going.

I was getting a lot of messages from the family willing me to keep going. And to be honest they were like a spliced video going round in my head. It just kept playing over and over in my head. It gave me that extra little fight.

That’s why we decided to donate some iPads. I thought they can spread them around to wherever they want them and wherever they need them so people can communicate if they haven’t got a device.

Your family are willing you on all the time. If they can’t communicate with you they can’t do that.

It’s not the first time I’ve come very close to death, but it’s certainly one of the ones where you know you’re literally right on the edge, you’re knocking on the coffin-makers door really.

It’s an experience I wouldn’t like to go through again, that’s for sure.

Enjoy today because you never know what’s going to be happening tomorrow.

Donate to the Bristol City Centre Hospitals Appeal and fund life-saving research into COVID-19 and the clotting associated with the disease.

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