A Margate couple who are self-isolating after showing covid-19 symptoms have released a video in the hope it will persuade people to take the virus seriously.
Zoë Escudier-Davies and husband Carl Davies are on day 20 of isolation. They phoned NHS 111 on March 14 after showing covid-19 symptoms and have been isolating since then.
Zoe has multiple underlying health issues and says if she didn’t already have a ventilator due to a rare condition which stops her breathing at night she would already be dead.
The 35-year-old, who is clinically vulnerable and needs to be shielded for 12 weeks, said: “This video shows Day 10 for me on 24/7 ventilation (VPap) and with symptoms of a headache, fatigue, pain in lungs, shortness of breath and loss of smell and taste.
“It’s not a nice video to watch but we hope it makes people self distance. Stay at home if you can, I don’t want any of you to go through this. Royal Brompton Hospital -which I am under- agreed if it wasn’t for the ventilator I would already be dead and there is still a high chance that I will get too tired and have to go to ICU and have invasive ventilation, meaning I’ll be all alone and could die that way.
“I don’t want or need sympathy and this certainly isn’t for that, it’s to show a real person who is generally very poorly struggle with suspected covid-19.”
Zoe says she has been poorly all her life but it wasn’t until 2015 that she was diagnosed with hyperadrenergic postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (PoTS), which is a condition that causes dysfunction to the autonomic nervous system. This means when she stands her heart rate increases and her blood pressure rockets.
The former Manston airport worker also has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) which affects her joints causing them to dislocate daily and creating problems with internal organs.
On top of coping with these conditions Zoe has a hole in the heart and a valve condition which results in un-oxygenated blood being released into body; suffers with heart arrhythmias -resulting in a pacemaker being fitted in 2017; asthma. Fibromyalgia, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) and genetic related high cholesterol .
Lung and diaphragm weaknesses mean Zoe cannot lie down as this makes her oxygen levels drop dangerously low, she turns blue and goes into hypoxic seizures. She has also been diagnosed with rare Congenital Central Hypoventilation Syndrome (CCHS) which means every time she goes to sleep could be her last as her body effectively shuts down and her brain doesn’t tell her lungs to breath.
She said: “I have to sleep with a ventilator (life support unit) now otherwise I would die. I’m currently under seven consultants, all at different hospitals, and my health has got a lot worse over the past year, but you’ve just got to deal with it step by step.”
Zoe copes with numerous other health conditions and has been confined to a wheelchair for the past five years.
She said: “My home is finally adapted for the wheelchair and I have a wet-room built to the side of my home. This has made my life a lot easier and a little more independent. I am weaker now and I am poorly, all my organs are failing. My whole life has gone upside down. I and the consultants don’t know what lies ahead. All we know is there is no cure of anything I have and with time it will only get worse.
“Despite everything I am still the same Zoe: cheeky, stubborn and I like to take the mick out of myself in jest along with others. I’m still positive and every day is both a struggle and a blessing. I have to fight but we all have our fights. I make the most of what I have and try to do things on the days where I feel half human, even though every day I have severe pain which never goes away.”
Zoe says she is remaining at home because the property is already equipped with everything needed, including the ventilator, and former firefighter Carl, who now runs a health and safety company, is the person most able to take care of her.
She said: “I have stayed at home as we have all equipment needed and if it is covid-19 I don’t want to die alone. My conditions are so rare that the best doctor is my husband.
“I’m in the extremely vulnerable category and my husband is self-employed. We have now run out of money and don’t know how we will or can pay our bills next month.
“It’s my birthday in a few weeks but these are really awful times and I hope I can survive this.”