Experiences of a Covid-19 patient

Chartered Wealth client Paul Runge was hospitalised with Covid in December. We are happy to report that he is on the mend and has a busy 2022 planned; as he says, he has a book to write and squash to play.

Here he shares some helpful tips should you or a loved one have to be hospitalised.

It’s very important that a Covid patient being admitted to hospital packs their bag properly. No visitors are allowed, the patient is alone, and it is vital to maintain communications to maintain high morale. Ensure that all the required electric plugs and leads are packed for keeping the cell phone charged. In my case, music is important, and the iPod leads were essential. The reality is that the patient has to do much fending for themself. A man should consider a shaver to facilitate the insertion of drips in hairy arms! Other items could be a small towel (towels not always easily available), pyjamas, slippers and perhaps dental floss in addition to the usual toiletries. Pack a pen or two. The ward is noisy with much light, and earplugs and the typical airline eye cover could be useful. If you pack sleeping pills, clear the usage thereof with your doctor. If you have received prescribed medicines, keep them all in a plastic packet and show them to the doctor so they can verify and adjust your medication. Having a bath or shower improves spirits considerably and ensure you have the shampoo, soap required. The last newspaper will help pass the time, (not available in the wards). Your laptop may provide a little interim entertainment.

During my stay, my doctor warned me that blood tests showed that I was undernourished and dehydrated. I had not eaten for nearly four days, and the hospital seemed to be restricting the number of bottles of water they were distributing to patients. A dietician visited me and gave me some fortified drinks. However, this was insufficient, and my partner played an invaluable role in arranging for a bag of protein bars and Energade drinks to be specially delivered to me. This was also my doctor’s suggestion. A supportive partner is gold!

You will find that effective cell phone communications will ease your passage through your treatment. The WhatsApp streams of well wishes – even from unexpected associates lifts morale. Then there is valuable advice from those who have had the Covid experience. A sense of humour eases matters too. Respond kindly and deal without fuss with those that come with misinformation and conspiracy theories.

A negative aspect of the communications scenario is when friends are strangely non-communicative. Hypersensitivity sets in, and I felt very guilty that on the day before I fell ill and just had my light cough, I accepted an invitation to visit a friend at his home. I immediately informed him when I heard that I was Covid-positive, and he was compelled to place himself and his family in isolation for seven days. Terrible timing because it was year-end for his company as well as that of his wife. I apologised twice via WhatsApp messages and received no acknowledgement or even response. This weighed on my mind through much of my hospital stay. It was also strange that while my work colleagues were sympathetic and supportive, one colleague has yet to send me any message.

Exercise care when interacting with the hospital staff. They are stressed and carrying out a difficult job. Make sure you remain polite and patient. There is little banter and laughter. Don’t push too hard and try to sort yourself out with small matters wherever possible. The doctor’s visits are unscheduled, brief and sometimes rushed. It’s a good idea to prepare beforehand for their visit by writing a list of all the questions you wish to ask.

Contrary to the old adage that the patient should just lie and rest in hospital, the practise today is for them to be as active as possible – especially if there are respiratory problems. In the case of Covid, the breathing exercises given to you by your physio are very important in restoring lung capacity. Walks around the ward are recommended and are enjoyable. They also help pass the time. The physio was very kind and helpful (albeit that I fear the bill that may be coming my way!) I enjoyed practising my squash shots as I walked around the ward!

The final hospital check-out can be a lengthy and frustrating process. Ensure that you leave with the necessary prescriptions. There is a special exit for departing Covid patients, and the staff will wheel you there. Ensure that your partner picks you up at a specific time and at the correct place. Otherwise, you could inconvenience the very busy nursing staff.

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