A DOCTOR from Salisbury District Hospital who contracted Covid-19 has shared a personal account of her experience suffering from the disease.

Dr Kate Jenkins is a clinical psychologist at Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust.

Like thousands of people in the country, she became ill with coronavirus a few weeks ago and after symptoms got worse, had to be hospitalised to fight it off.

In a powerful, personal account, the 42-year-old shared her experience with the illness: how it started, how it deteriorated over time and how, eventually, thanks to the care received by her own colleagues, things started to improve. 

In it she also paid tribute to NHS staff and spoke of how "lucky" she is "to live and work in a city with a great hospital".

In her own words, she recalled: "It was a busy day at the hospital as we focused on how to support staff, patients and families as Coronavirus advanced across the country.

"The next day I started to feel unwell and was developing a fever. The tickle in my throat was fast becoming a cough. It was time to hunker down with my family for our mandatory isolation period.

"The following days weren't too bad. Paracetamol tackled the fever and the cough was bearable. Along with the rest of the country Mothers Day involved "virtual drinks" with my Mum and siblings and everyone thought I was looking better. I felt I would be back to work on day 8.

"Then things started to go downhill. I was feeling very sick and couldn't keep the paracetamol down. I spoke to 111, a duty doctor and then my GP. But by the following morning things weren't going well.

"I couldn't stop being sick, I was dehydrated and couldn't take a deep breath without coughing. It started to get a bit scary. I called the ambulance and was calmly bundled off to A&E.

"There was something surreal about being admitted to hospital by my work colleagues. Faces hidden behind masks, at first not recognising me then slowly realising who I was. The eyes really are the window to the soul and I got very good at reading people's eyebrows.

"I spent five nights in hospital. Being isolated in a side room I have never felt so "unreal". Not just feeling ill, but because I never saw a face without a mask, I was never touched without gloves.

"I'm not ashamed to say that at 42 I just wanted my mum. I went so far as to ask a nurse to simply hold my hand for a while. It was lovely, even with the gloves on.

"We stopped talking about my BP and O2 saturation and we talked about my family and the dog. It meant a lot to make that human connection again. Just to feel that someone was saying “I see you”.

"One consultant put it well when as she laid her hand on my forehead she said “you are not a leper”. So simple yet so powerful.

"The turnaround came when I felt peckish. I managed some mash with gravy, the first food in six days. It was delicious, nourishing and warm, proper comfort food. Things picked up and I was practically bouncing on my bed waiting to get discharged home.

"Now as I write I've been home three days. I'm still tired, I've lost weight and I don't look my best, but I feel incredibly lucky.

"Lucky to have a husband who while worried to bits took all the childcare in his stride, lucky to have friends checking in and sending silly dog photos to make me smile, and lucky to live and work in a city with a great hospital.

"Whatever the NHS staff have thrown at them they keep smiling through it all. I will never take that for granted. Now I'm looking forward to getting back to work and doing my bit to support those wonderful teams that supported me."