Maresfield couple make progress in recovering from ‘virus’

A Maresfield woman who has been sharing the story of a battle she and her husband have been going through against a Coronavirus-type illness says they now seem to be recovering.

Gail and Gary Fay pictured five weeks ago in Thailand.

Gail and Gary Fay haven’t been tested for COVID-19 but hospital staff told them last week they were 90% sure that was what they were suffering from.

Gail wants to share her story far and wide to make others away of symptoms to look out for, how to prepare in case you are taken ill, and how to make yourself as comfortable as possible if you do get it.

Day 18

Yesterday, Day 18 for the couple, Gail told Uckfield News:

“Gary is feeling much better. I am not as good yet, but I’m getting there. 

“We have small appetites.  Gary has lost 18 pounds and me eight pounds.  We have no energy and sleep intermittently but we hope we are through the worst. 


“I am finding chest pain, headache, and shooting pains my main problems.  We do not know what the shadowing – found in an x-ray last week – on Gary’s lungs will mean. 

“We are very weak and according to the internet we should be better by now.  We are not yet.  We can walk to another room and use minimal effort for eating and drinking but that’s it.

“I know that it seems surreal – all the things that you see on the TV – it is surreal to us and we have lived with it. This message is so you can refer to it if it happens.

“I still can’t imagine that it will hit so many but thought I’d share in case you need the information.


I know you’ve seen the lists but our symptoms were often quite different

Swollen eyes
Fever with excessive sweating and shakes
Loss of appetite
Loss of taste

Chest pain
Sore throat
Taiser type pains through body
Loss of appetite
Loss of taste


“How we all get this illness is irrelevant – we won’t know.  Please don’t blame people unless they have been purposefully irresponsible. 

“None of us know how we get it.  If you can trace it back to warn people to be careful that is all we can do. 

“There are not people tracing your movements back – we are way past that.  There is, to date, no testing.  You will not receive a diagnosis.  Behave as if you’ve got it.  To be honest, if you get it you will not be in any doubt.

What to do

“If you get it you are on your own within your family unit, with additional help from outside support within constraints of isolation. 

“The advice is to go online to 111, but if you need medical advice call the number 111.  

“You can try doctors but they will tell you to ring 111.  If you feel at risk you are told to ring 999 but if they come out to you they cannot take you anywhere if you are not at a life threatening, critical, stage as they cannot put you in those wards unless you require ventilation.

“So if 111 doesn’t work you have to support yourself or selves.

“It is easier in some ways if you are not alone, but there is a likelihood that you will get ill together and if that is the case then the stronger has to look after all. 

“For those alone use social media, if you can, to reach people. It is the most amazing way to reach almost anyone.  Use it to communicate.  It may save your life.  Do not waffle – be clear about what help you need. Alternatively put a big sign in your window saying HELP.

How our illness started

“Day 1 – Gary got ill on a Tuesday night say 10pm and started coughing and shaking – symptoms just came on suddenly so he had not been near anyone with them. 

We had the heating on to sleep, Gary wore clothes and three duvets on him.  Unheard of.  I was absolutely fine.  The next day I was at home with him and he slept a lot and didn’t want to eat.  

“Day 2 – By the evening I was coughing and had chest pains.  Gary’s eyes had swollen up and it was difficult for him to see.  By this time we both remained in bed.  We didn’t eat. We drank water and Lucozade.  We took paracetamol or Beechams powder.

“I did not keep a diary, understandably, but I know that we didn’t go to hospital until about Day 10. 


“The staff are brilliant – as always – but they cannot always do anything.  We had some tests: blood, I had ECG, because of my chest pain, and we both had scans. 

“Gary had a problem on his lungs, my results were clear.  We both were in much pain but there was nothing they could do as we were not bad enough and we left. 

“Remember this was last week and the world has changed much since then these checks are unlikely to be available now.


“As I understand it the only care available is when you are critical and would be put on a ventilator to help you recover.  

“You will, in theory, have to heal at home before critical care is given.  All there is to help is:

  • Sleep – you may intermittently sleep 16 or more hours.  There will be no difference between day and night
  • Paracetamol (NOT ibuprofen) 
  • Glucose drinks eg lucozade
  • Dioralyte (for diarrhoea)
  • Water
  • Fresh pineapple – refreshing if your throat not too sore to swallow
  • Hot water bottle – have found it comforting on my chest – have hugged it for many days
  • No coffee – I don’t drink tea but small coffee gave me worse headache
  • Hot blackcurrant drink is soothing on throat
  • Beechams powder
  • Soluble vitamin C
  • Soup when little appetite returned or omelette
  • Tuna baked potato is all that I have managed to date in the evening
  • Several sets of bedding – left in pile in bedroom so you do not have to look for them
  • Lots of washing tablets
  • Lots of dishwasher tablets
  • Cold wet flannel for head
  • Extra pillows for sitting up
  • TV
  • Phone
  • Hot bath
  • Chair in the garden with blanket
  • Oximeter and a thermometer
  • Blood pressure machine

“There is not much else you can do but wait and rest. You may be lucky with your experience and have minor symptoms, but for us it felt as if we had been poisoned and would surely die.  I felt it through every part of my body as if seeking weakness – for me my chest and my head.

“I believed help would come when we were very ill but even now I’m not sure how it could. You are looking after yourself and fighting and hoping you can get through. 


“The way the illness stripped my husband of his strength was frightening.  I cooked soup whilst sitting on a chair by my cooker as I could not stand.  I refilled the water glasses and then collapsed back into bed.  I chose not to involve my daughter in our carer as I wanted her safe.

“My advice is fight.  Sleep as much as you can.  If you watch someone ill sometimes their breathing is noisy and sometimes you can barely see their chest rise. 

“Breathing becomes shallow and it is scary to see but you are the one that is going to have to decide at what point it is critical.  They will not be taken to hospital unless it is considered critical.  I would want someone medical to give the information about oxygen levels to be concerned about – that is not for me to say.


“Try to stay positive. Imagine yourself better in a sunny beautiful life.  Imagine the best life, how things will be when you’re through this. 

“If the sun comes out – if you can – sit in your garden wrapped up warm in a blanket.  The birds sing and the warm sun comes out and kisses your face.  It was beautiful a few days ago.  

“If you can eat, sit on a chair and slowly make something small if there is no one to help you.  Take your time.”

“Reach out to people if necessary.  Tell others who you are, and where you are, to get support. This is the time to care for yourself.  Fight – the rest can wait.  We, like the rest of the world, will worry about money later.  The important bit is to live.

“To my very brilliant friends and family – thank you for helping us live by bringing us our shopping.”

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