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Covid-19 survivors urges sufferers to seek early help

By Alasdair Fraser

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Brian Dobbie and wife Colleen
Brian Dobbie and wife Colleen

AN INVERNESS man who survived a terrifying coronavirus ordeal believes he could easily have died had he delayed his second emergency call much longer.

Taxi driver Brian Dobbie is urging those displaying Covid-19 symptoms such as persistent coughing and shortness of breath to waste no time in seeking medical help.

The 55-year-old from Hilton is deeply grateful to “brave” NHS staff who saved his life during eight days at Raigmore Hospital, including five in a high dependency ward.

Now recuperating at home, Mr Dobbie was finally admitted on April 7, 10 days after his first NHS 24 call and over a fortnight after finding himself unable to work.

Three days before that second call to NHS 24, he found he could barely walk given breathing difficulties, but left it until April 7 to call again.

Mr Dobbie recalled: “I swithered that weekend over whether to make the call, but I’m glad I finally did so the following Tuesday. Within five minutes at the Mackenzie Centre, where they do the testing, they had called me an ambulance.

“By 6pm I was strapped up to machines in the high dependency ward.

“If I’d left it another day, the outcome might have been very different. I’m no expert but I think I probably got there just in time.

“I’d just say to anyone who might be unsure about the severity of what they’re experiencing to seek help straight away.”

Mr Dobbie spent some scary moments taking oxygen from a continuous positive airway pressure device to ensure he could keep breathing.

After three days and nights with the oxygen mask fixed and another two in the high dependency unit, the dad of two, who is married to Colleen, was able to return to the general Covid-19 ward before release on April 15.

He admitted: “It was a very frightening experience. The worst bit was arriving in hospital after being collected at the Mackenzie Centre by paramedics suited in full protective gear.

“You just don’t know what’s happening or what might happen to you.

“I don’t keep the greatest of health these days, but I’d only really had a few day visits to hospital since I was 15 and spent time in the old Royal Infirmary.”

Mr Dobbie is stable now, but still experiencing shortness of breath and a cough. He believes it could be at least a month until he is fit to return to work.

During his time at Raigmore, he was aware of the deaths of two other men, including bus driver George White.

Anxiety remains over his illness, with doctors frank in telling him they could not say whether the illness might return, simply because so little is known about this new strain of coronavirus.

His gratitude to those who tended him with such care and dedication, though, iis huge.

Mr Dobbie stressed: “I wouldn’t be sitting here if it wasn’t for them. The care, attention and good humour in the face of everything they were dealing with was something to see.

“What they did for me was just top notch, perfect.

“They are doing an incredible job and deserve every ounce of help and support they can get from the Government.

“These brave doctors and nurses are coming in and caring for us coronavirus positive, for a relative pittance, and then going home to their families.

“We hear every day about nurses and doctors dying and I feel very humbled by the care they gave to help me come through this.

“I’ve been one of the lucky ones, but I know so many others are not so lucky.”

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