As was reported earlier this week, former Southend defender Mark Phillips is currently recovering from coronavirus.
The 38-year-old first established the symptoms just short of two weeks ago.
It wasn’t until a week ago, after the symptoms worsened, that he realised what he thought was standard flu-like problems, actually was COVID-19.
Phillips, who made 114 appearances in a blue shirt during four years at the club, is keen to get the message across to every Southend United fan, and even football fans in general reading this, that it is so important to follow the government guidelines.
This is Phillips’ coronavirus story.
When the symptoms developed…
“Initially the symptoms started on the Thursday and Friday in the last week of March. At first it was a headache.
“I controlled that with paracetamol’s thinking it was just a bug.
“I made sure I stayed in and kept away from people just in case and a couple of days later I got a cough and my throat was getting sore.
“Again, there was no temperature so I just thought it was a bit of flu.
“My son plays for Arsenal and by the Tuesday I was in the garden with him doing his homework that he’s got and my chest felt really tight and I was struggling to breathe.
“I ended up falling asleep because it knocked me out and I woke up the next morning without any smell.
“That’s what made me realise it was coronavirus. I had lost all taste and smell.
“The next two days my breathing became really difficult, I was coughing constantly, struggling for breath.
“By the Thursday I couldn’t even get two words out so that’s when I called 111 for a bit advice and they were really helpful and caring.
“I insisted I only wanted a bit of advice but because I ticked enough of the boxes they transferred me through to 999 and they took over.”
On how he feels in himself at the moment (Wednesday 8th April) and if he is starting to feel better…
“I’m still really chesty and throughout the day I have periods where I feel better and then I might take a little bit of a dip, be struggling for my breath and my chest will tighten.
“The general symptoms like the headaches have kind of worn away now.
“I have to use a pump for my chest when my breathing is more difficult than usual.
“With something so serious that is taking lives, I’m not going to lie, it’s not that straightforward.
“I’d like to be seeing a lot more improvement and I’m still struggling with my breathing, using the pump that the hospital have given me.
“As quickly as it comes, I don’t see it going away so quick.
“Even walking to the garden to get some vitamin D from the sun is quite an effort.
“I’m on the mend but it’s a long road to full reocvery."
On the advice he would give everyone reading this today…
“You’ve got to take it seriously. I see a lot of stuff about conspiracy theories and negative stuff, people saying they won’t get it or ignoring the social distancing rules and going against the government guidelines which are there ultimately to help us and stop the spread.
“Southend fans will know about me as a player, I played through broken bones and injuries galore so I’m not one to just go down for the sake of it. To the detriment of my own health I usually react too late to things.
“When I was calling 111 I was really worried and I’m not long retired.
“At Southend I was normally always one of the fittest in terms of cardiovascular capacity. But I was in a bad way a few weeks ago. It takes a lot to worry me and I was worried.
“I hate to think people out there with underlying health problems or those a little bit older than me.
“It will take anyone. Nobody is safe. The best we can do is protect ourselves and by protecting ourselves ultimately, we’re protecting our loved ones and families.
“My message is listen to the guidelines because they’re there for a reason. You don’t want to get yourself in this situation.
“If we all listen and do our little bit we’ll get through this."
On the fear of spreading it and on the precautions he is taking…
“I’m in a house with my mum and I’m 38 so she’s a lot older and therefore in that bracket where she’s more vulnerable.
“That’s a worry on my mind. I don’t want to spread it to her never mind other people.
“I’m stuck in a very small room, I haven’t seen my kids for a few weeks now, so yeah it’s difficult.
“I try to remember it’s not forever and there’s plenty more good times to come if you do just listen to the advice and be safe.”
His praise for the NHS…
“They’re doing an amazing job, the NHS workers. They’re putting their lives on the line and risking their own health.
“Even though they’re dealing with so many cases around the country and around the world they were very thorough with me.
“One of my friends works for the NHS and he got it. He went into a 14-day quarantine period and then the following day he was back at work putting himself at risk once again, so it just shows a glimpse of what these people are doing and what they’re risking for us.”
Everyone at Southend United wishes Mark the very best for a swift recovery as soon as possible!
STAY AT HOME. PROTECT THE NHS. SAVE LIVES.