Glasgow & West Scotland

Coronavirus: 'I missed my first shift in 30 years when I got Covid-19'

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Media captionTwo weeks on a ventilator fighting Covid-19

Until Tam McCue caught coronavirus, he hadn't phoned in sick in 30 years.

Now recovering in hospital after spending two weeks on a ventilator, he says it's difficult for others to imagine what he's been through.

As the path out of lockdown is laid out, the 64-year-old wants to warn others not to risk catching the disease.

The delivery driver's condition deteriorated so much while he was self-isolating at home that he believed he would die before reaching hospital.

"I thought I wasn't going to last to get here", he told BBC Scotland.

"The paramedic kept going on the radio, saying 'I need that ambulance now'.

"By the time I got into that ambulance I thought I was ready to go - I thought that was me finished, totally."

Mr McCue can't remember being on the ventilator, but he can remember being distressed by what he now realises were sometimes "frightening" hallucinations.

During one he thought he was in a video game - he could see the exit but couldn't leave. Everyone around him was able to get out but he was stuck.

Now that he is off the ventilator - and the sedatives that you are put on to be ventilated - he says the hardest thing is realising the impact his hospitalisation, at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, had on his family.

The "emotional side" has been seeing what everyone else has been going through - up all night with worry, unable to visit and relying on doctors contacting his wife every day to give updates on his condition.

When he was finally able to speak to his family, he said there were tears.

"You can't get any words out 'til you can say 'I love you'. It was extremely emotional."

He wants others to think about what the impact would be on themselves and their families if they become seriously ill with the virus.

Mr McCue said that even when restrictions were lifted, he thought it was important to stay at home wherever possible.

"You're not just keeping yourself safe - it's yourself, your family and everybody else."

He said anyone who decided to go and socialise should realise that they're taking a chance with their health and that of their families.

"If we're on lockdown, we're on lockdown - simple as. Go to work, do your job, go home - that's you."

Mr McCue is not sure what the long term consequences will be for his health. He will have to go back to hospital for a chest x-ray so doctors can assess the damage to his lungs.

He thinks for the rest of his life he will have to sleep on his back. "There's different things I've got to do now", he said.

"It maybe be that I can't sleep on my side for rest of my life. I hate sleeping on my back, but I need all the oxygen I can get."

For now, he is gearing up to tackle a flight of stairs. Once he is able to climb them, he can be discharged from hospital and continue his recovery at home.

And as for getting back to doing his deliveries, Mr McCue thinks his "just get on with it" approach when he's unwell will have to change.

"I've got to look at life and work differently now if I feel unwell", he added.

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