A-Z

Gwilym

Age at interview: 63
Brief Outline:

Gender: Male
Ethnicity: White British
Background: Gwilym is 63 and White British. He works as a GP. 
Brief Outline: Gwilym heard about Covid through his job as a GP in the NHS, but experienced it for himself in March 2020 after developing symptoms following a cruise. Gwilym feels that the pandemic is the biggest challenge of his career in the health service.

 

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Gwilym first heard about Covid through his job as a GP in the NHS, but developed symptoms after going on a cruise in March 2020. He had been unsure about whether to go ahead with the cruise to begin with, but Covid cases in the UK and the ship’s destinations were low so he decided to go. When the cruise company said that they were going to test passengers and follow Covid guidelines, Gwilym felt more secure, but then worried when the test was a questionnaire and there was no social distancing. 
 
When Gwilym was told at one of the cruise destinations that they wouldn’t be allowed to dock at the other stops, he felt that the cruise ship had become “more like a prison really” and found the experience “very stressful”. He also found it stressful when other passengers queued to book a discounted cruise with the travel company, as Gwilym remembers that they weren’t “even centimetres apart, let alone one and a half metres”. 
 
After coming home to the UK, Gwilym developed a dry, raspy cough, high temperature, and shivers. He was able to arrange a test because he works in the NHS, but he had to drive himself to the test centre, which he found “quite a strange sensation”. He isolated at home in his bedroom away from his family, but his wife and son developed symptoms as well. Gwilym also lost his sense of smell and taste. He feels that having Covid made it easier to empathise with his patients and give them advice about what symptoms they could expect when there wasn’t much information available at the time.
 
It took Gwilym four weeks to recover from his symptoms, but he went back to work before then. He feels that Covid has been the “biggest challenge” of his career. There wasn’t enough PPE at the beginning of the pandemic, it’s difficult to manage patients at home, and telephone consultations miss “a lot of clues”. Despite this, Gwilym feels that the NHS has learned a lot during the pandemic, especially about how to treat patients with Covid. 

 

 

Gwilym weighed up the risks and decided to go ahead with a planned Caribbean cruise in early 2020.

Gwilym weighed up the risks and decided to go ahead with a planned Caribbean cruise in early 2020.

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Well, obviously, being in the NHS, you get emails, you know, with updates on likely infections and things and it was in the press, wasn’t it. Especially with cruise ships and things and the way that it was spreading through China, and I mean they had had these breakthrough, breakouts in Italy and ski resort and various places so there was a fair bit of it in the news. And, obviously, these cruise ships being stuck so, you know, because we were going on a cruise, you know, that was obviously something you’d consider but, you know, it was either go or lose your money [laughs]. And you know, we did our risk assessment and thought, you know, in the Caribbean they didn’t seem to have Covid there but, obviously, there were other cruise ships there and maybe people from other countries had taken it there and I don’t know. I mean I heard to I think it was while we were away that it was on the news that there was a couple of cruise ships in the Caribbean that had been refused entry to islands that they’d had a breakout of Covid on the ship. But that wasn’t one of our, you know, wasn’t our ship but two others but whether we’d gone into the same port, I don’t know. Maybe at the same time or different time but, you know, if it spread that way, who knows?

 

 

Gwilym caught Covid in March 2020. He could feel the energy drain away from him after going upstairs.

Gwilym caught Covid in March 2020. He could feel the energy drain away from him after going upstairs.

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And of course, once I started to do things, I realised that even going upstairs, I was a bit short of breath. Standing for a couple of minutes anywhere, I had to sit down because my legs were just giving way, you know, you could just feel the energy draining away from them quickly. 

 

 

Gwilym was the first out of isolation in his household when he tested negative but was exhausted doing the weekly shop.

Gwilym was the first out of isolation in his household when he tested negative but was exhausted doing the weekly shop.

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So, by the Monday, obviously, they were stuck in the house. We’d come back from holiday and so I had to go out and do the weekly shop [laughs]. And that was quite an experience. I went to Tesco, and it took me about an hour. I had a full trolley, coming to the checkout and while I was at the trolley and the checkout person was taking, you know, collecting all the things I was just leaning on the trolley because I could barely stand, you know, I was so weak. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

 

 

GP Gwilym found it difficult to support his patients over the telephone.

GP Gwilym found it difficult to support his patients over the telephone.

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Yeah, just try and protect yourself as much as possible and, you know, try and do a risk assessment as do you have to do a face to face, you know? Can you get away with advice and things but, you know. I mean it’s been fairly difficult in the last year trying to deal with so many patients by telephone because it’s so different to how we’ve been trained and how we’ve always worked, you know. And it’s not been satisfactory. Very stressful and it’s not been enjoyable. Up until March last year, I enjoyed my work immensely and, but it’s you re-evaluate your job, you know, and it’s been difficult.

 

 

Gwilym is part of a research study where his antibodies are regularly assessed. He is relieved that these are still ‘very high’.

Gwilym is part of a research study where his antibodies are regularly assessed. He is relieved that these are still ‘very high’.

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Well, you know, having had it, I knew that I would have antibodies to fight the virus and I felt a little bit safer actually, having had it, you know. The fact that I should be able to fight it more easily if I did come across it again. Obviously, that was before you knew about the different variants so, you know, you’d obviously expect to be safe against that particular virus, having had it, but then when the new variants came out you think, well, you know, hopefully there’ll still be cover against that. But I did take part in the study with Imperial College around May, June, you know, looking for antibodies and they said I had very high level of the IgG and IgM, you know, the short acting and the long-acting antibodies, so that was reassuring as well.

 

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