A Halls Gap man who tested positive for Coronavirus has praised Wimmera Health Care Group for the support he received during his isolation.
Kieran Ryan is a fit and healthy young man. The 31 year old recently travelled to America to run the Los Angeles Marathon and then visited New York around the time Covid-19 cases were starting to rise. As the situation escalated, Kieran decided to fly home and spend the rest of his planned annual leave at his property in Halls Gap.
Born and raised in Stawell, he organised for his parents to stock his house up with supplies so he could go straight home and isolate, even though it was simply a recommendation and not a mandatory requirement at the time. Then he started to feel unwell. It started with a runny nose and cough and a bit of exhaustion.
“At first I put it down to the fact that I had just done a lot of travel and run a marathon. It was my body just adjusting,” Kieran said.
“Then I literally shook myself to sleep one night.
“It was the first time I ever had a fever like that. I woke up and had sweated through the sheets and that is when I really thought I was a chance of having Coronavirus.”
Kieran said he phoned a GP and the Horsham Covid-19 clinic and later arrived for testing.
“My gut was telling me that I did have it, especially as I had just returned from New York,” he said.
“It was an amazing experience getting the test done. Besides the swab which felt like it went into my brain, everything was great.
“The staff from the Department of Health and Human Services that I spoke to on the phone were wonderful and Sonia and Deidre at the clinic in Horsham were brilliant.
“They were very professional with the way they dealt with all the infection control risks but incredibly warm and caring at the same time.”
Keiran said he was given really clear information on the next steps and what to do.
“If anybody goes and gets tested, it’s a bloody long swab and that isn’t fun,” he said.
“As soon as you are tested, you are in self isolation, in your car and back to your house. You’re on lockdown, looking after yourself and your health in that moment.
“They said if you hear from us, it’s probably good news and if you hear from the health department it is likely you have it.
“I saved the Horsham clinic number in my phone and four days later they called me and I had a little smirk thinking this is going to be great news, but they actually confirmed I tested positive.”
After that, Kieran said the illness was a roller coaster - physically and emotionally.
“My symptoms fluctuated. I had a couple of days that weren’t great. I even phoned a friend who is a lawyer and organised a will.
“I called some mates and asked if they would carry my coffin if I passed. Because you see the confirmed cases and the deaths reported and there isn’t much reporting on the recovered cases.
“I am 31 and was questioning my mortality. That was scary.”
Kieran said that luckily he was only in that headspace for a short time.
“What helped me a lot was everyone I spoke to from the Department of Health and from the Horsham clinic. I received a call from Deidre or Sonia in Horsham every day and the department every second. I always tried to enjoy the conversations and get the most out of them and we developed relationships.
“Being in isolation, you’re on your own and you’re sick. You are feeling vulnerable as it is and then no one is there with you, so those calls really mattered. We had in-jokes about my daily exercise being hanging out the washing and then having a nap and Deidre even talked me through how to make some meals for myself with what I had in the house. Keiran said the medical staff were also living through a situation they had never been in either.
“Yet they’re still treating people who are testing positive like rock stars. It shows the character of the people working in the health system.
“Everyone that I spoke to in the health care system was phenomenal to deal with.
“I looked forward to the phone calls. The interaction and information from a knowledgeable source.
“They were my sources of truth. I decided to only listen to information coming from those sources. I think that’s a message to get across to people as well - people should be getting their information from the right places.”
Kieran was cleared on April 12 and said he was unsure of whether or not to go public with his story at first.
“I sat on my thoughts for a while. Do I talk about it and educate people about what it is like and how it feels to have it? Or do I just leave it?
“I decided to shine a light on it. People have this fear confirmed cases are roaming the streets but we are very much on lockdown and doing the right thing.
“You get it, you get rid of it and then you are no longer infectious. And I am very grateful that I got it and it wasn’t my parents or grandparents, somebody that would be more susceptible to the infection.”