Matt Dockray, who is now recovering at home, tells Sky News about being in intensive care with “every alarm and bell going off”.
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A man who was rushed into intensive care after contracting COVID-19 has told Sky News how his terrifying ordeal began when a bad cough turned into a collapsed lung.
Matt Dockray’s wife called 999 after he “literately couldn’t get off the couch” and was struggling to sit upright.
Once in hospital, doctors found one of his lungs had collapsed and the other one “wasn’t doing great at all”.
The 39-year-old was on his own, because family could not enter his room, and struggling to understand what medics were saying because they were wearing hazmat suits and speaking through masks.
The deepest breath he could take was a “really strong sniff” and “nothing would inflate”.
Those around him in ITU were not 80 or 90-year-olds, he said. “These were young kids – there were people the same age as me.”
Matt, from Marlow in Buckinghamshire, initially thought he had a cold or flu rather than COVID-19.
The Aston Villa fan first noticed symptoms when he headed to Wembley for the League Cup final against Manchester City on 1 March. He had a “bad dry cough” and a “bit of a headache”.
He realised it was more serious after his parents sent him a device which measured his heart rate and oxygen saturation – which should have been at least 96%.
Matt’s was down to 88%.
By the time he was admitted to hospital nine days ago he had a “real hacking cough to the point where you wanted to be sick”.
“Then you lose all sense of taste or smell,” he added.
“And a really bad temperature. It’s definitely the worst I’ve ever felt with anything.”
After arriving at hospital he was taken to an isolation room and “two guys came in dressed in hazmat suits with a ventilator pack on the back”.
Matt said they “took swabs straight away” and “just became increasingly concerned”.
He continued: “It was like something out of a movie. You’ve got no family with you, you don’t know what’s going on, no one can explain to you, and you can’t hear people properly because they’re talking through masks.
“It was very, very terrifying.”
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Once in intensive care he was “hooked up to every machine” and could hear “every alarm and bell going off”.
He added: “My lung had collapsed and was failing, my other lung wasn’t doing great at all, and with everything that was going on and my symptoms, the next stage was to put you on a ventilator.”
But a ventilator is for support rather than treatment, he explained.
“And I think that was the most terrifying part. There’s no real treatment for [COVID-19], there’s no medication.
“You’re expecting them to put a nice IV in and [give you] a drug to make everything better.”
In the end, Matt was not put on a ventilator, but had oxygen forced into him via a nasal cannula while doctors checked his stats “from a distance”.
There was a man opposite him whose family would “come up to the glass, one at a time”.
“That guy lasted probably two to three days, and didn’t make it,” Matt said.
When he started to get better he could “feel everything switching back on”.
The nurses were “absolutely fantastic” and taught him “how to breathe again”, he said.
Matt was discharged on Thursday.