‘On day six I nearly died’ – Exmouth town crier survives coronavirus and warns ‘we have not seen anything yet’

“On day six I nearly died. My signs began to dip and dip. My family were told ‘there’s nothing more we can do’.”

Exmouth town crier Roger Bourgein has spoken of his brush with death as he lay in a locked hospital isolation room battling coronavirus.

Roger, aged 72, who has underlying health conditions, spent 11 days in the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital after he was diagnosed with Covid-19, falling ill at home.

“I am still in that phase of thinking what an amazing man I am,” said Roger.

“We never see ourselves as others see us, so I did not think I was a strong man – I am afraid of heights, afraid of swimming out of my depth, but now realise I am an amazing person.”

He said the UK must heed the Government’s advice for social distancing and isolation to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus.

Roger said those people flouting the advice were ‘mad and misguided’.

“It’s others they are hurting,” he said. “It’s not really fair. We have not seen anything yet. There’s so much more coming down the line.”

The pensioner was diagnosed with Covid-19 after describing his symptoms over the phone to his GP.

Roger, who is diabetic and has high blood pressure, had not realised the severity of his illness.

He said: “I had an absolute total lack of energy. You feel as flat as a playing card on the floor. I couldn’t get out of bed. All I could do was collapse onto my commode next to the bed.

“I rang the doctor that morning. She listened to my symptoms. She said ‘do you live on your own? I said ‘yes’. She said ‘you should ring 999 now’.”

An ambulance on blue lights took Roger from Exmouth to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, where it was confirmed he had the coronavirus.

“I was the first Covid-19 patient at the R&DE,” said Roger. “I spent eleven days in there.

“You are in a locked room. You can’t see out of the window. There’s no air conditioning. Nobody is allowed in – no friends or family. Any member of staff that comes in must come in singly and in hazard kit.

“I was in my cell for 11 days and 11 nights. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t drink. There were needles going everywhere.

“It’s a sneaky bloody virus. You really just feel like sh*t.

“On day six I nearly died. My signs began to dip and dip. My family were told ‘there’s nothing more we can do’.”

He praised the ‘brilliant team’ at the hospital who worked to save his life over his 11-day stay.

Roger recently returned home to Exmouth. He remains restricted to his bedroom and loo, and is being ‘looked after like a king’ by his daughter.

“I am here in my own bed. It’s amazing. I can look out of the window and I can see the sky. I couldn’t see the sky from in there,” he said.

“A lot of it is down to mental state. That first morning a doctor sat on my bed and said ‘Roger, if you go on a ventilator you will die’.

“I thought ‘bugger this bloody virus’. I am certain if you mentally sit in a cupboard under the stairs and cry your eyes out, you will die.”

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