A WEST Cork businessman received ‘the best birthday present ever’ when he was released from Cork University Hospital on the day of his 52nd birthday following a Covid-19 scare.
Leslie Salter who runs Leslie’s Diner in Skibbereen spent 11 days in hospital after shortness of breath prompted his GP to arrange an immediate transfer to hospital.
A relieved Leslie admits it was a frightening ordeal.
“It was a very scary time. It was a frightening experience. I was in the hospital for 11 days. I went to Bantry Hospital initially before going on to Cork. I was on the oxygen machine. I didn’t require the ventilator at all. I was awake and had my senses.
“They put the machine on me in Bantry and that was a huge help. I had the machine on for three days before they eased me off it,” he said.
Mr Salter first acted on his suspicions that he might have Covid-19 when he started experiencing high temperatures.
“Looking back now, I made both good and bad decisions. I first noticed symptoms on Saturday, January 9. I thought I was after getting very hot. I took my temperature and it was up. I never lost my sense of smell or taste. I took a paracetamol and went to bed.
“I checked again the next morning and my temperature was still up. I rang SouthDoc who arranged for a test and it was positive. I immediately closed the business and went about lying low for 10 days. The doctors told me to take tablets every four hours and drink plenty of fluids.
“If I had acted sooner, a pump of the oxygen would probably have sufficed.
“I had a temperature from the previous Saturday, but the shortness of breath only came on the following Friday. I couldn’t even make the front of my house. I rang my doctor who arranged for me to be taken to Bantry Hospital by ambulance. I was then moved from Bantry to CUH at 2am the following morning.”
Mr Salter has no underlying health issues and the doctors told him he was very fit for his age and profile.
“I was never in a hospital before. I might have gone in when I was younger with possible appendix issues, before being released after a day.
“I have no underlying health conditions at all thankfully, as if I had it could have been worse.
“The doctors told me I was very fit for my age. I didn’t think I was. They told me for my size and my age, I was fit. I have done a small amount of walking over the last few years and I am always on the go at work which helped,” he said.
The Castlehaven man was full of praise for the expert treatment he received in both Bantry and the CUH, and he has advised anyone with symptoms to act on them instantly.
“All the medical staff were brilliant. You couldn’t ask for better. They are doing a great job. They are under big pressure.
“I was in a single room on my own for the first few days where you are monitored before I was put into the big room.
“I would advise people to keep following the guidelines and possibly do a bit of exercise to see if they are experiencing any issues with shortness of breath.
“If people think they have it, don’t lie down and think it will go away. Act on it as soon as possible.”
Leslie’s Diner, a popular fast food restaurant in Skibbereen, reopened last Monday.
Mr Salter, who is still experiencing a shortage of breath on occasion, won’t be working for the foreseeable future as he follows specific instructions from his doctors.
“I have re-opened the business, but I won’t be working myself. The doctors warned me when I came out to do nothing and if I get a weakness, sit down wherever I might be. This will aid my recovery. I will have to take it easy for the foreseeable future.
“I can walk only a very short distance before I get winded. I get shortness of breath.
“Even chatting for any length of time, I can get winded.
“I have to be very cautious. I am eating plenty as I need to build myself up once again. I lost 10lbs in recent weeks. I have to rest up and do everything right.
“If I feel bad, I will have to go back. I know people who have gone back. I will have a check-up in the coming months. I feel alright now. I feel I can do everything in my daily life now again,” he added.
The business owner has, however, appealed for people who test positive to ensure they self-isolate to prevent the spread of the virus from becoming more prevalent in communities.
“I think the biggest problem is the people who have it are not isolating. They are going about their days’ business which isn’t good enough,” he said.
Mr Salter said being allowed home on January 26, seeing family and friends, and returning to his home in west Cork provided him with a huge sense of relief.
“I turned 52 the day I came home from the hospital. Getting released and returning home on the day of my birthday was the best present I ever got.”