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6th July 2020

Getting through COVID-19

It seems that everyone has felt the effects of coronavirus to a degree. But some people like Steve Radigan, who shares his story with This Is MedTech, have been impacted more than others.

“My initial symptom was an infrequent dry cough,” he tells us. “The following day I started to experience some aches and pains. From there things came rather quickly. The next day the fatigue was at its peak and I had a fever. I also had no appetite and had lost both my sense of smell taste.”

Hearing that Steve had the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), a family friend who is a doctor suggested to his wife that he get tested. “We went to the drive-through testing facility for the dreaded nasal swab,” says Steve. “From there I went back home and proceeded to stay in bed for a week, finding out in the middle of that week that I was in fact positive for COVID-19.”

COVID-19 is a new virus that has rapidly spread around the world and affects people differently. Some feel no effects, while others can have a range of mild to severe symptoms. According to the World Health Organization, over nine million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and nearly half a million people have died due to the disease. Older people and those with certain underlying medical problems are at a higher risk of developing serious illness, but healthy people like Steve can also become very ill. There is currently no medicine to cure COVID-19, nor is there a vaccine to prevent it. Healthcare professionals have relied heavily on medical technologies to diagnose and manage the disease.

Despite having many COVID-19 symptoms, Steve was surprised by the diagnosis. “All along I felt like it was just a bad case of the flu and did not expect that I would be part of the pandemic,” he comments. But he continued to deteriorate and when he started having problems breathing, it was time to go to the hospital.

“Without medical technology, there is no way that I would have survived and recovered as I did,” Steve notes. He had numerous tests including chest x-rays, an electrocardiogram to test heart function, and various blood tests. “A blood gas draw was performed twice, the results of which ultimately kept me from being intubated.” That test showed how well his lungs were moving oxygen into, and removing carbon dioxide out of, his blood.

“Oxygen was a major part of my treatment in and out of the hospital. Especially once I returned home, it was huge to be able to have a semi-portable oxygen machine so that I could move around the house more as I recovered and still have the use of oxygen to supplement my lung activity,” he says.

Over two months after his diagnosis, Steve is almost fully recovered, with doctors using x-rays to monitor the healing in his lungs. As part of his emotional recovery, Steve has donated his plasma, which now has antibodies to fight off COVID-19 and is being researched as a possible treatment for people with severe cases.

“It’s hard not to reflect on what I went through and what could have been.”

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