A KINSALE man battling Covid-19 has described the impact it has taken on his body as he fights to overcome the virus and return to his life as a professional cave diver.
Matt Jevon, who owns and runs South West Technical Diving, is a professional diver and entrepreneur who came out of hospital last week to fight the illness at home.
“There is still a lot of concern about the potential long-term effects of the condition, like scarring of the lungs and damage to the lung tissue,” he explained.
“There are questions around whether I’ll be able to dive at the level to which I had been diving or whether I will be able to dive at all.
"However, the steps I’ve taken have probably put me in a stronger position in terms of my recovery.
"At the moment I’m looking at options around hyperbaric oxygen therapy and respiratory physiotherapy.”
He described how the illness began.
“When I first had symptoms I put it down to a regular flu.
"I had been travelling a lot and thought I was just run down.
"I self-isolated anyway as I knew this was the responsible thing to do.”
Matt later developed a fever. However, it was his restricted breathing that raised the most concern.
“My breathing became very restricted,” he said.
"If literally just stood up and walked a few yards I was out of breath. I couldn’t take breaths or even yawn.
"The situation plateaued for a week and a half to two weeks and that’s really what drove me to go in and get the x-ray.
"When my fever was gone it was expected that there would be an improvement in the breathing but it was like the virus just wanted to hang on a little longer."
Matt spoke of how his vast diving experience has aided him in his fight against the condition.
His recovery involves using a combination of medical advice and support, coupled with his own knowledge of respiratory issues which he acquired while training as an emergency medical technician and diver.
“There is a close link between the psychological make-up of test pilots and cave divers,” he said.
“You hear stories of test pilots crashing to the ground while the plane is falling apart around them, but they’re still thinking of what went wrong and how it could be resolved.
"The same can be said for a diver who finds themselves two kilometres back in a cave when something goes wrong.
"We have to maintain the focus and mental state that allows us to deal with this kind of a situation.
"If I focus on the problem too much I won’t be able to see the solution.
"I can’t change what has happened or the impact this has had on my lung tissue. However, I can do everything I can to improve the situation going forward.”
Matt thanked and praised Cork University Hospital hospital staff who he described as helpful and professional.
“When I went to the hospital I was all masked up.
"There were two queues, one of which was for covid-19.
"It was all handled very professionally and there was no fear at any point that I might infect anyone else.
"It was five weeks after the onset of symptoms that I tested posted for Covid-19 which surprised everyone including the infectious diseases consultant at the hospital.”
Matt remains positive in spite of the setback.
“Everybody’s make-up is different.
"I do 100 metre plus technical dives with mixed gas and go two or three kilometres through a cave for enjoyment.
"I’m not wired the same as most other people so my view is that this is frustrating.
"I’m not happy about it for sure, but I have to find a way of beating it.”
Matt’s wife Siobhan has been a huge support to him despite having to live in a separate room to him during the pandemic.
They had initially planned to travel abroad for their wedding anniversary and joint birthday celebrations this Friday but will now have to improvise.
"Luckily, the community has come together in support of the popular couple," said Matt.
"A few of the restaurants in the area have come together to offer us some of their delicacies to enjoy on the night,” he said.
"Siobhan and I just happen to share the same birthday and anniversary all rolled into one.”
He described anyone not practicing social distancing as “criminally irresponsible" and urged everyone to do their bit to curb the spread.
“For me putting intentionally putting someone else at risk during the pandemic is selfish and the equivalent to manslaughter.”