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29 April 2020
A Halls Gap man who has recovered from COVID-19 has spoken of his ordeal and how health-care professionals helped him get through his illness and isolation.
Distance-running enthusiast Kieran Ryan, 31, was in the United States of America when the COVID-19 threat started to escalate.
He had travelled to America to compete in the Los Angeles Marathon and was in New York when it became apparent that COVID-19 was gripping the country.
In response to circumstances, Kieran decided to fly home and spend the rest of his planned annual leave at his property in Halls Gap.
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Born and raised in Stawell, he organised for his parents to stock his house up with supplies so he could go straight home and isolate. This was despite the procedure being simply a recommendation and not a mandatory requirement at the time.
He then started to feel unwell, symptoms starting with a runny nose, cough and exhaustion.
“At first I put it down to the fact that I had just done a lot of travel and run a marathon. It was my body just adjusting,” he said.
“Then I literally shook myself to sleep one night. It was the first time I ever had a fever like that. I woke up and had sweated through the sheets and that is when I really thought I was a chance of having coronavirus.”
Kieran said he phoned a GP and Wimmera Health Care Group’s Horsham COVID-19 clinic where he later arrived for testing.
“My gut was telling me that I did have it, especially as I had just returned from New York,” he said. “It was an amazing experience getting the test done. Besides the swab, which felt like it went into my brain, everything was great.
“The staff from the Department of Health and Human Services that I spoke to on the phone were wonderful and Sonia and Deidre at the clinic in Horsham were brilliant.
“They were very professional with the way they dealt with all the infection-control risks, but incredibly warm and caring at the same time.”
Kieran said he received clear information on the next steps and what he needed to do as someone suspected of having the virus.
“As soon as you are tested, you are in self isolation, in your car and back to your house. You’re on lockdown, looking after yourself and your health in that moment,” he said.
“They said ‘if you hear from us, it’s probably good news and if you hear from the health department it is likely you have it’. I saved the Horsham clinic number in my phone and four days later they called me and I had a little smirk thinking this is going to be great news. But they actually confirmed I tested positive.”
Kieran said the illness was a rollercoaster – physically and emotionally.
“My symptoms fluctuated. I had a couple of days that weren’t great. I even phoned a friend who is a lawyer and organised a will.
“I called some mates and asked if they would carry my coffin if I passed.
“Because you see the confirmed cases and the deaths reported and there isn’t much reporting on the recovered cases. I am 31 and was questioning my mortality. That was scary.”
Kieran said he was lucky to only briefly experience those thoughts and feelings.
“What helped me a lot was everyone I spoke to from the Department of Health and from the Horsham clinic. I received a call from Deidre or Sonia in Horsham every day and the department every second day,” he said.
“I always tried to enjoy the conversations and get the most out of them and we developed relationships.
“Being in isolation, you’re on your own and you’re sick. You are feeling vulnerable as it is and then no one is there with you, so those calls really mattered.”
Kieran said the medical staff were also living through a situation they had never experienced.
“Yet they’re still treating people who are testing positive like rock stars. It shows the character of the people working in the health system,” he said.
“They were my sources of truth. I decided to only listen to information coming from those sources. I think that’s a message to get across to people as well – people should be getting their information from the right places.”
Kieran was cleared of the virus on April 12 and said he was unsure at first about whether to go public with his story.
“I decided to shine a light on it,” he said.
“People have this fear confirmed cases are roaming the streets, but we are very much on lockdown and doing the right thing. You get it, you get rid of it and then you are no longer infectious.”
The entire April 29, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire April 29, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!