A DAD who thought he wasn’t going to make it out of hospital alive after suffering badly with Covid-19 has spoken out about his experience of catching the deadly virus.

It came as a surprise to Tommy Biggins, 51, that his coronavirus test came back positive after more than two months self-isolating in his Clydebank home.

The painter, who has underlying health conditions, including asthma and type 2 diabetes, had previously spent time in hospital after suffering from a heart attack. But he said his recent 12-day stay in June was a completely different experience.

READ MORE: Glasgow Times readers have their say on school return

“I thought I was going to die – I was wishing I was dying because of the pain,” Tommy said.

“Back in March, there was four of us in work and one of the boys came in and said, ‘All of us could catch it but you could die’ so they suggested that I go home and self-isolate.”

Tommy didn’t leave his home for 10 weeks, even to go out into the garden. So he was surprised when he took unwell - shivering, a cough and a bit of a temperature. He thought it was “nothing major”.

“I was on video call to my pal and he heard me coughing and said I should go get it checked,” he said.

After calling NHS 24, Tommy was told to attend out-of-hours at the New Victoria Hospital in Glasgow and was dropped off by his son.

He was put into an isolation room, had his temperature taken and told he had to go by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) because his heart rate was dropping fast. His son walked him to the doors, and wasn’t allowed any further.

“It was like something out of Breaking Bad with everyone in all the yellow suits,” Tommy said. “It was a ward specifically for Covid-19 patients.

“There was a notice on the door saying ‘do not enter without PPE’ – it was all quite frightening.

“They tested me at around 1am, and they told me the next day that it came back positive.

“The pain I was in was unbelievable – I felt like I was breathing in fire.

“It was hard to breathe, when I was taking my inhaler it was hurting and I was feeling tightness.

“It’s a pain you can’t explain.

“I had 100 things going on at the same time. I was thinking, ‘Is this a heart attack?’ My anxiety went through the roof.”

READ MORE: Susan Aitken accuses Glasgow Tories leader of encouraging trolls amid taxi row

Glasgow Times:

Tommy described the few hospital staff he had any interaction with all wearing full personal protective equipment.

He said: “I never saw anyone’s face – it’s a frightening environment.

“They even asked me my religion in case I died so I was thinking, ‘Am I ever going to get out of here?’”

Whilst in hospital, doctors discovered an infection in Tommy’s foot which resulted in him having to get his toe amputated - while wide awake.

He said: “The surgeon said to me, ‘I’m going to need to take your toe off to save your foot’.

“They took me down to the operating theatre, but I couldn’t get knocked out because due to Covid I couldn’t have a tube down my throat.

“They had to individually numb the nerves in my leg – it took three and a half hours, so I was awake when they amputated my toe and were scraping the bottom of my foot.

“I felt what was happening but no pain – it was horrific.

“They had to put a wee blue screen in front of me because it’s natural instinct to look at what they’re doing.

“I was nearly physically sick when they took my bandage off.”

Meanwhile, at home, Tommy’s wife and son had to quarantine for 14 days after being in contact with him.

Tommy was tested a second time for Covid-19 with the results coming back negative after a long 12 days.

He was determined to walk out of the hospital doors and did so with a crutch, after initially being offered a wheelchair. Following the separation from his family, he was back at home recovering.

But he spent two nights sleeping in the spare room as he wasn’t allowed to be close to them until their two weeks quarantine was over.

Glasgow Times:

“The doctors were saying to me that they thought I would have ended up in intensive care and that there was only a 20 per cent chance of survival for me,” he told the Post.

“I didn’t actually realise how bad I was, but as soon as you can go home, they want you out of there because your mental health is suffering.

“One of the main things is the loneliness – the only people you’re seeing are hospital staff, so your mental health is impacted from it too.

“The only visitor I had was my wife which was after my operation for 20 minutes.

“There have people been in hospital for months, but the 12 days felt like a lifetime for me.”

Despite beating the virus, Tommy is still suffering from tiredness.

“You feel tired – at the moment I’m always tired,” he said. “I can’t get ready in the morning without feeling breathless.

“And when I went into hospital I was 16 stone 8 - and I left 12 days later at 14 stone.

“People have been saying, ‘Aw at least you’ve lost weight’ and joking about it. If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.

“And if I never went into hospital I might have lost my leg as they wouldn’t have traced the infection so quickly.”

Tommy said the virus affects everyone in different ways - he never lost his sense of taste, for example. If he hadn’t had underlying health conditions, it might have never got worse than a “wee cough”.

He added: “The worry now is that I might get it again.”

Tommy was full of praise for every member of hospital staff who he came across during his stay in ward 5D, including all doctors and nurses, the auxilliary nurses, the cleaners, and the staff who brought him meals.

He said: “You couldn’t fault them. I don’t have enough praise for the staff. I tried to get flowers sent in but it wasn’t allowed in case they are contaminated.

“But I’m going to get vouchers sent in for them. I can’t thank them enough. They’re your best pals in there.

“When I was getting walked out the doctor said to me ‘I didn’t think you’d be heading this way, I thought we would be taking you to ICU’.”