With the theme of this year’s Men’s Health Week being Covid-19, I feel it is my duty to share my own personal battle with it. This virus has seen me hospitalised for just short of two weeks, as well as taken four of my close friends too soon – I feel incredibly fortunate to be alive and I urge everyone to never take their health for granted.
Like many, I wasn’t too concerned about what would happen should I catch Covid-19 – I had no underlying medical conditions and consider myself an active, healthy man. However, the ferocity of this disease cannot be underestimated and the speed in which it manifests is terrifying.
As my early symptoms seemed to be those of a bad cold without any chest pain or breathing difficulties, I foolishly and stubbornly ignored them, refusing my wife’s pleas to call a doctor. However, things came to a head one evening while watching a film – at the beginning I had a very slight cough, and by the end I was unable to breathe. My wife called an emergency ambulance to take me to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, where I stayed for a couple of weeks recovering.
The dangerous reality of Covid-19 was brought firmly into focus in hospital, and I cannot credit the staff enough for looking after me so well and helping me recover. However, I know I’m incredibly lucky, and I’m deeply saddened by the loss of my friends who haven’t been so fortunate.
When you lose people, you realise how valuable life is. I hope that if nothing else, this pandemic encourages us all to value our health more – not only physical, but mental health too – and seek help if something doesn’t seem right. This is particularly pertinent in our industry, where over generations we have cultivated a culture of machismo, afraid of appearing weak to one another.
But this must stop. This experience has taught me that as men, we should never be afraid to need and ask for help. No one is invincible, and we must take precautions, particularly around Covid, to keep ourselves and others safe. At the very least this means checking in on each other more often, even if that now means over Skype rather than in person.
I hope that this virus acts as a catalyst for a more supportive culture of health and wellbeing in our industry. By breaking down barriers and helping people open up more to each other, there may be some positives to the legacy of Covid-19 for construction.