Birmingham dad’s diary on how he beat coronavirus

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A Birmingham dad has kept a diary on how medics helped him to beat coronavirus.

Panayiotis Elia didn’t show classic COVID-19 symptoms as initially he just had a headache, was constipated and felt lethargic and nauseous.

However, his condition rapidly worsened and, within 10 days, he was in a critical condition at Good Hope Hospital.

Thankfully, the 66-year-old grandad from Sutton Coldfield pulled through and was able to go home to his family just over a week later.

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“My family and I owe the doctors and nurses so much for their constant care and nursing but also the constant updates they would provide my family who telephoned regularly,” said Panayiotis, who owns a fish and chip shop in Nechells.

“They were truly amazing – real heroes.”

Here is his diary of what happened ….

Wednesday March 18

I started feeling unwell, feeling lethargic, nauseous, constipated and had a constant headache. At the behest of all my family, I closed the shop and went home to self-isolate with my wife. I had trouble breathing and had been constipated for a couple of days.

Panayiotis Elia with his wife Eleni before he became ill with coronavirus

Very quickly, I got worse, could not eat or drink (had lost my sense of taste), started to be very confused and had been sick too but would not take the step to go to hospital – call me a stubborn man? Guilty!

Sunday March 22

My daughter took over, called an ambulance and I ended up in Good Hope Hospital being tested and treated. A specialist came to look at my abdomen and chest and called for x-rays and CT scans. I was treated for nausea and constipation.

Whilst I was being wheeled around to various places, I noticed that it was eerily empty. No people were walking around the many corridors – only just a few staff. The x-rays and CT scans showed evidence of crackling in my chest. They took a swab for the coronavirus.

Tuesday March 24

It was confirmed that I did have COVID-19 and pneumonia and the doctors were right to be concerned. I was sent to a ward that had four other people on but I became steadily worse and was put on oxygen, given fluids and antibiotics. My nurse at the time was very concerned at my temperature spiking and the doctor ordered more paracetamol and IV antibiotics. The other three patients were sent home and I was on my own in the ward, constantly awake. I think I did not sleep more than one hour a night with some none at all during my stay at the hospital. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining – I was being monitored by the amazing staff at Good Hope Hospital.

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Please pledge your support for all the amazing NHS staff who are battling the coronavirus crisis on the frontline.

At BirminghamLive, we’re proud to be part of the Reach nationwide NHS Heroes campaign, launched to make sure all these incredible people know exactly how much they mean to the nation.

We’re asking you to show them love by helping us create a living map of gratitude from every corner of Britain. By dropping a heart on our online map, you’re saying you appreciate the efforts undertaken daily in the NHS.

To pledge your support, just go to Thanks A Million NHS. Add your postcode to put a heart on the map and show your support for the heroes of the NHS.

And please do share the page to encourage others to show their support too.

We also want to hear your stories of NHS Heroes too – it could be something as simple as bringing cakes in for the team or making endless cups of tea to looking after each other’s children when no childcare is available and being available to swap shifts even when caring for people at home.

Please email details of your hero to zoe.chamberlain@reachplc.com – we’d love to feature them.

You can also read heartwarming stories on in our #BrumKIND campaign

Thank you

Friday March 27

In the early hours of the morning, I was visited by a consultant from the intensive care department / critical care team. I could tell before he opened his mouth that it was not going to be good news, his body language said it all. He had to repeat his message twice before I got the gist. I was to be taken and put on a ventilator. My condition was getting worse and significant damage had been done to my one remaining kidney and they knew that I had a heart condition as well, none of it in my favour.

However, after a few hours, a different doctor came in with new equipment called High Flow Oxygen which I was hooked up to and I was sent to an isolation room. I felt the difference straight away and that gave me hope. This rapid oxygen was entering straight into my lungs. Hope is a great thing, faith is another! I am Greek Orthodox and our Church Services are very long but YouTube filled some of those hours in the hospital and the Byzantine chanting was very uplifting. The constant use of media to stay in contact with my family helped a lot.

The vital High Flow Oxygen machine that helped Birmingham dad Panayiotis Elia beat coronavirus

Monday March 30

I was on the High Flow Oxygen for the next few days, then put on normal oxygen and slowly weaned off it day by day. The constant care was relentless. Everyone who came into the room had to be fully kitted out and when leaving would rip off all the protection equipment, leave it in a special bin for this purpose, open the door and only then take their masks off! As one can imagine, the less time nurses or other staff were exposed to me, the safer they were, but not once did I feel they wanted to rush and leave, in fact quite the contrary, they would stop and chat for a few minutes. That meant a lot for I was basically on my own 24/7.

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I started to feel better and pressed the doctor and nursing staff to leave. I was told that I could only leave if I could prove that I could manage comfortably without oxygen.

Sunday April 5

After taking a few turns around the ward, (by this time I was again placed in a room with four other men, one of them a doctor who had contracted covid19 whilst on duty), I was sent home on Sunday April 5. I was told that my recovery would be long but I can look out of my bedroom window at the sky, I can walk out in my garden and sit and contemplate how lucky I was. My family and I owe the doctors and nurses so much for their constant care and nursing but also the constant updates they would provide my family who telephoned regularly. They were truly amazing – real heroes. May God bless them all.

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