'It feels like it's trying to break down every little piece of you': Leeds man's remarkable coronavirus recovery

A Leeds man on the road to recovery from the coronavirus he feared would kill him has praised the "stunning" care he received from the NHS.
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David Bolus thought his chances of survival were less than fifty-fifty after he was admitted to intensive care at Leeds General Infirmary and put on a ventilation machine.

The 53-year-old, who considered himself "relatively fit" before contracting Covid-19, said that for days he focused only on breathing in and out, before turning a corner and "sobbing uncontrollably" as he came to terms with what happened.

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Now safely at home with the "love of [his] life" in Oakwood, David is on a slow and steady journey back to health.

David on a ventilation machine at LGI, and back at home in Oakwood (photo: David Bolus).David on a ventilation machine at LGI, and back at home in Oakwood (photo: David Bolus).
David on a ventilation machine at LGI, and back at home in Oakwood (photo: David Bolus).

David, who works in informatics in the NHS, began to feel unwell in mid-March, before becoming nauseous and struggling to eat.

After around two weeks, it was decided paramedics should take him to Leeds General Infirmary.

"This was probably a lifesaver," he said. "Without them I don't think I would have made it."

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David spent several days in ICU on a CPAP machine, which pushes oxygen to the bottom of the lungs to re-inflate them.

David reunited with his wife Julie (photo: David Bolus).David reunited with his wife Julie (photo: David Bolus).
David reunited with his wife Julie (photo: David Bolus).

"After that I started to turn a corner," he added. "All the way through I had the most brilliant, amazing, fantastic care.

"The quality of care always made me feel safe - whatever happened I knew I was with the best of the best."

The big Leeds United fan also highlighted the diversity of the staff treating him at Leeds, as well as the care he received from his GP at North Leeds Medical Practice.

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"We need the best people from everywhere working for the NHS," he added.

The father-of-three and granddad to one had hoped to be discharged in time to celebrate his wedding anniversary with wife Julie, a retired nurse who has been helping with coronavirus planning in Wakefield, but had to stay in for 15 nights overall to ensure he was safe to leave.

"This little thing is trying its hardest to kill you," he said. "It was trying its level best to finish me off.

"People talk about 'fighting it' but that is rubbish - nobody wants this.

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"When I started in ICU we had the conversation about whether they would keep resuscitating me if there was nothing else they could do.

"I didn't give it a second thought and said 'of course'.

"As it went on all I could concentrate on was breathing in and out, day after day, with a mask on and just one wall to look at.

"It feels like it is trying to break down every little piece of you, physically, emotionally and mentally, but somehow you have to pull that back together again."

David estimated that the mental recovery from the virus would be at least as long as the physical recovery, despite climbing the stairs still being "like Everest".

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He is not sure where he caught Covid-19, but had travelled to London and Manchester in the weeks before lockdown.

Having lost more than two-and-a-half stone, David is enjoying his wife's cooking and said the simple things, like being back in his own bed, were "just amazing".

"It does give you an appreciation of what we have," he added. "It's a bit of a cliche, but don't take stuff for granted, all the little niggles and worries become irrelevant.

"My wife says I've turned into an old hippy!"