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Carmarthen man says he owes his life to his wife after his COVID experience

A fit and healthy retired policeman from Carmarthen says his wife and hospital staff saved his life in the face of COVID-19.

Derek Edwards, 58, spent nine days unwell at home, when his wife, a specialist Parkinson’s nurse at Glangwili Hospital, became particularly concerned about his shallow breathing.

“My wife and I had both been unwell and as she is a nurse, she had a test and was confirmed as having COVID-19. On the ninth day, she was really worried about my breathing and we phoned the GP who referred me into the hospital,” said Derek. “By the time I got there I could hardly stand and my saturated oxygen was very low – it really crept up on me.

“I had various treatment over two weeks in hospital, including oxygen, IV paracetamol, steroids, antibiotics, chest x-rays and fluids. I also had to remain in the prone position, lying flat with chest down and back up, as much as possible and this, along with the cough and difficulty breathing, was physically very draining.”

Derek, who now works as an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer for the RNIB as well as a driver with the British Red Cross for hospital transport, said there were several things that kept him going through his experience of the disease.

“I am blessed to have my wife Laura, she saved my life,” he said. “I thought about my family, friends and neighbours who were all fantastic in sending messages of support and I focused on coming home and getting back to routine.”

“The care I had from all the different staff was absolutely fantastic.  From the doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants and domestic staff – they don’t know me and yet they came to work at their risk to care for me and other patients. Without visitors, their friendly voices and care made such a difference each day and I can’t thank them enough. The physiotherapists and occupational therapists were marvellous and got me up and going again with support both in hospital and whilst I am now recovering at home.

“I must also mention the excellent food. I lost a lot of weight, which I could ill afford to do, but as I was recovering I looked forward each day to the food from the hospital. It was a huge help in building my strength and recovery.”

When considering his experience, Derek said his message to others would be: “Don’t under-estimate this disease. Don’t take it for granted that you won’t be affected, please look after yourselves and those around you. Anyone affected badly by COVID-19 can expect many weeks of recovery. I have been home two weeks and any exertion still leaves me breathless. It is improving but I still have the cough and I know it is going to take time and patience.”

Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive for Hywel Dda University Health Board Dr Philip Kloer said: “We are so pleased to hear that Mr Edwards is continuing his recovery at home. It is heartening to hear his praise for our dedicated staff from the different clinicians to all the necessary support services that keep our NHS doing what it does best, caring for our communities.

“For our patients, our communities and our NHS, we ask the public to keep following Government guidance in Wales, this is the single most important way to support the NHS.”