Paul Vasey, 59, works as an Area Sales Manager and lives in Ryton with his wife Valentina close to their daughter Francesca. Since March last year, he has been to hospital twice with Covid - most recently in April - and at one point feared for his life.
Today, Paul is recovering. He is coming to terms with the long-lasting effects of the virus and its impact on his life. He hopes by sharing his story he can help to save, at least, just one life.
“I am a fit, active man who usually enjoys walks with my wife, travelling for my job and, in my spare time, live performances with my band across the North East. Covid has changed everything for me.
My dream was to retire in Alicante, Spain, and set up as a solo artist singing in the city’s bars, clubs and restaurants. Now, the future feels quite daunting. I’m gasping for breath after walking only a few meters, never mind singing.
It all started during the initial lockdown. There was one week where I just felt horrendous. I lost my sense of smell and taste. I self-isolated upstairs away from my wife. Then, it hit me hard. On the Sunday it paralysed me. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t catch my breath. My wife knew she had to call an ambulance.
I was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QE) and put on oxygen, but thankfully not a ventilator, and kept in for 24-hours for observation. I count myself lucky that I was sent home unlike so many others. The following two weeks were horrific. I suffered excruciating headaches, shortness of breath and profuse sweating.
Despite several knock backs I built myself back up and returned to work. Although, I still didn’t feel like the old me.
In April of this year, I tested positive for Covid again. I wasn’t surprised as I knew it was a possibility. What I didn’t know was that the second time round would be significantly worse.
All of my previous symptoms returned along with a loss of appetite, chronic diarrhoea, sickness and fatigue. When I was taken to hospital I was scared. I remember lying in bed thinking ‘this is it’. I have a wife, a daughter and my retirement ahead of me. I don’t want to go now.
I was discharged to self-isolate at home for 10-days. It was horrendous. My symptoms were relentless. The 13 steps to the bathroom made me breathless. I felt helpless. My wife also had Covid. The most we could do for each other was make a cup of tea.
We can’t thank our daughter enough for her support. She was amazing. Getting us whatever we needed and leaving it at the doorstep. Thanks to her my wife and I are recovering from Covid but it’s a painstakingly slow process.
A really good friend of mine asked me to describe Covid and this is what I think. It doesn’t care if you are a good or bad person. It’s not bothered if you’re fit, unfit, a mum, dad, brother or sister, the best friend ever; it’s ruthless.
Like it or not it chooses you. It’s non-negotiable. All you can do is remain positive. Think about your loved ones. But more importantly, think about the poor souls who aren't lucky.
I’ve been to hospital with Covid twice and hopefully no more - I don’t think I’d survive a third time. For all it’s worth, we need to look after each other, be kind, take nothing for granted and embrace life. You don’t get a dummy run.
That’s why I am so pleased I have now had the first dose of the vaccine. I was due to receive it the day I tested positive for Covid the second time round. We can’t be complacent. We must all play our part in slowing the spread.
I hope my story helps to save at least one person’s life. That it encourages someone to stay two metres from others and continue to wear a face covering. Yes, lockdown is easing but Covid is still in our communities. We need to remain vigilant to save lives.”