Lancaster City Council employee urges people to get vaccinated after Covid left him on oxygen in hospital
“I have worked in disaster zones, but the days in hospital with Covid-19 were the scariest of my life,” says a Lancaster City Council employee who contracted Covid last month.
Environmental enforcement officer Phil Bradley, who is double vaccinated, spent six days in hospital after struggling to breathe and needing oxygen.
Ambulance crews were called to his home in Heysham on October 4 when he found himself battling to breathe. He was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, where doctors later discovered that Phil had an underlying health condition that he had no idea about.
Two weeks earlier his two sons and wife had tested positive for Covid-19 - his teenage son becoming very unwell, while his wife and other son suffered from mild cold-like symptoms. Phil tested negative.
“I had been double vaccinated and so I could carry on as normal and did not have to self-isolate," said Phil, 53.
"But, I stayed at home anyway and didn’t go into the office as I did not want to take any risks – particularly as I work with a lady who is pregnant. So, I was allowed to work from home.
“I did lateral flow tests regularly and they all came back negative. So, after the 10 days of isolation, I went back into work.
“But after a few days I started to feel like I had a cold. I dosed up with ibuprofen and paracetamol and put it down to a bit of man flu, but because I felt unwell and didn’t want to take risks, I told my manager and I went home on the Tuesday.
“Then, I started to feel really unwell, achy, very tired and then started coughing and could not eat. It felt like someone had taken the inside of my body away from me and I was just like this empty shell. I just could not move. My wife had to help me to walk up and down the stairs.”
Phil did another lateral flow test, which came back positive.
“I started to struggle to breathe, and so, on Monday, my wife called for an ambulance. They were there in five minutes and were fantastic. The took my stats and said I needed to go into hospital,” added Phil, who worked in the Army’s military police for 11 years.
“I was put on a Covid ward, where I was put on oxygen. My breathing was very shallow. I felt very poorly and very scared.
“I woke up one morning in hospital and it felt like someone was putting their hands over my mouth and stopping me from breathing and I thought, is this it? Am I walking out of here or am I going out in a box?
“Thoughts started running through my head, like have I done my will? Who has my pension details? Will my wife and kids be OK? It made me cry.
“I have worked in disaster zones and seen a lot, but the days in hospital with Covid-19 were the scariest of my life.”
Blood tests taken while Phil was being treated for Covid-19 revealed that he had Type 1 diabetes, and now requires daily insulin injections.
“I had no idea that I had an underlying health condition,” said Phil. “The doctors said if I had not been double vaccinated, it could have been a different outcome for me.
“The girl next to me was in her late 20s and had not been vaccinated – she was very poorly and on ventilation machines. The vaccine isn’t there to stop you getting Covid or getting ill with it, but to lessen the effects of it, and I am very glad that I had mine.
“Some people at work, who have not had the vaccination, have now said that it has been a wake-up call and that they will get jabbed because of the bad experience I had with Covid."
Phil, who often cycled up to 10 hours per week, has just returned to work, but says he is far from 100 per cent fit.
“I still feel weak and tire easily," he said. "I get out of breath walking upstairs, but the city council and my manager have been really supportive and very understanding.
"It is going to take some time, but at least I am still here,” added Phil, who will be taking up the offer of his booster jab as soon as he can.
Coun Caroline Jackson, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “We are so pleased that Phil is recovering well after contracting Covid-19.
“What Phil’s experience shows is the importance of getting vaccinated against Covid-19 to prevent serious illness. It is obvious that the vaccine is saving lives, like Phil’s.
“We would urge anyone to take up the vaccine and booster when offered it to keep building a wall of defence against this awful virus.”
There are still 30.5 per cent of residents across the district aged 20 plus who have not yet had their first jab.
In Bolton-le-Sands and Slyne 93.8 per cent of people have lined up to roll up their sleeve, while the lowest take-up rates of the vaccine are in Castle, Bulk, Poulton, and John O’Gaunt wards.
In Castle only 62 per cent of residents have currently had the first jab.
Coun Jackson added: “It is important that people get both initial doses of the vaccine and that vulnerable people and those asked to come forward do get their Covid-19 booster vaccine.
“Topping up our defences and protecting ourselves this winter, as well as getting the flu jab, will give us the best protection while helping to keep pressure off our NHS locally too.”