When COVID-19 struck, Sam Jude, a nurse at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn knew what he had to do, get himself swab tested, go home, isolate for two weeks and recover so he could as swiftly as possible to help his colleagues.
The Clinical Nurse Educator at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, works on Terrington Ward, caring for short stay patients, usually admitted straight from the Emergency Department (ED) and the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU).
Sam is one of more than 240 patients who have been discharged from The Queen Elizabeth Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19. He began showing symptoms and immediately booked himself in for a swab at the hospital’s on-site swabbing centre.
He said: “My symptoms started with a persistent cough. I usually get coughs as part of seasonal changes or chronic tonsillitis, but it was important to still get tested to be sure. I then started spiking temperatures.
“The swabbing experience was quick and less worrying than I had thought. The swab sample was taken quite deep into my nose and the back of the throat. It was all done in less than ten minutes.”
Sam and his family, including his wife who also works as a Staff Nurse at the QEH, were sent home to isolate.
“I was off work for a fortnight in total,” he says.
“By the end of the first week, I was spiking temperatures and was started on antibiotics by my GP. By the end of the two weeks I was glad to be back to feeling myself.
“The worst symptoms I experienced were acute shortness of breath, which limited my ability to do anything. I also experienced some pain due to chest tightness and lost my ability to taste and smell – which is only gradually improving.
“I’ve never been this poorly before. I was confined to my room and distancing myself from my little girl, despite wanting to see her and cuddle her. Small everyday tasks became more and more difficult, such as climbing the stairs – any movement was restrictive due to severe shortness of breath.
“To add to all of this, COVID added to my struggles with anxiety. The news of a very close friend being put on to an ECMO machine (an artificial lung to oxygenate the blood) made me worry even more. It felt like I was struggling to find the calm in the COVID storm.”
With heightened anxiety and fluctuating symptoms, some nights were worse than others. Sam explains:
“One night I really struggled. It got so bad I thought I was going to need an ambulance. My wife made me some honey, lemon and ginger tea and I took some steam inhalation and used vapour rub. My family and I prayed all night and I got through it.”
During his second week of isolation, Sam’s symptoms began to improve and he was able to look forward to returning to work.
“I noticed the first steps of recovery during my second week off work. I could get around the house, manage the stairs and even sit out in the backyard and have some fresh air.”
“It was so hard being off work and leaving the ward. I kept thinking of my team. But, I know that I needed to completely recover so that I could get back to my shifts. My wife, family in India, friends in the UK and especially my Church were a huge support to me. They were constantly praying and sending me positivity. I am really grateful for everyone around me.”
Pictured: Samuel Jude