On Thursday, July 22 we woke up this post on Facebook by our long-time beloved friend and former colleague, Darren Butch Burchall.
He wrote: “This is what 16 days of fighting for your life and winning feels like. #COVIDfree! To God be the Glory!”
His release came eight days after he was hospitalised at Exeter Hospital in the UK.
Nearly five weeks later, to see him back up on his feet, still working on his breathing but walking and jogging, is truly amazing, considering the fact that at one point he really did not think he would survive.
The good news is the doctors told him to allow one week for every day he spent in hospital and he has made it halfway through that journey on the road to recovery.
“Recovery is about just chilling and eating healthy and working on my breathing,” he said
“My breathing is coming back pretty good. I can walk up and down the steps in the house now without fighting to breathe.
“I never knew what shortness of breath was before, but I found out short breath is crazy. You have to breathe really fast. The only way I could breathe at one point was by gasping quick, short breaths.
“Now I can actually breathe and take joy in just being able to take deep breaths now and filling my lungs.”
But he said: “I can still tell that I’m not completely out of the woods yet.”
For the first few weeks he spent most of his time in bed trying to “sit up and breathe and watch cricket”.
“I play a lot of different games on my phone, talk to people, talk to my wife and I’m eating the same diet that I had in the hospital.
“Eating well is important and I’m not eating as much, I’m eating a lot less. I realised I was just eating too much food – I eat healthy but I just eat too much of it.”
But he said: “Anybody who says this thing is just a little flu – something’s wrong with them! This thing is serious – it’s real!
“Luckily I have some pretty good genes and my body was able to fight it off,” he added.
“The most important thing the doctor told me was to give myself one week for every day I was in the hospital. I was in hospital for eight days so I’m looking at eight weeks.
“When this thing gets in your lungs, the only thing that’s going to save you oxygen and steroids to keep the lungs functioning and antibiotics because this thing goes through your lungs photocopying itself, until eventually your body is trying to fight the photocopies that this virus has made. There is this fluid that your body produces to fight it and this fluid overwhelms your lungs.
“The doctors showed me the pictures of my lungs and I honestly could not believe how this thing had engulfed my lungs.
“If you’re unfortunate enough to get sick from this thing – take it seriously and get to the hospital.
“I think the real eye-opener for me was how many doctors were looking at my two different X-rays – the one taken when I first went in the hospital and the other one that was taken on day six or seven.
“It was unbelieveable to see the difference. That’s when my eyes really opened up and I realised how serious this thing is. To make a long story short, if it didn’t kill me; it’s just going to make me stronger and I’m just waiting for the next challenge in life.”
“My wife also got sick. I got this virus from school and I remember the day I caught it and she caught it from me.
“I remember having a headache and I remember shivering that night and all I was worried about was my wife.
“They took me to the hospital and this woman had to stay and fight this by herself and it broke my heart.
“I remember begging the doctor to send an ambulance to go get my wife. But fortunately, she has a very strong immune system. She stayed home and ate well, got lots of rest and did all the right things.
“She’s such a soldier and I’m a God blessed person to have her in my life and everyday I see her now getting back to normal it touches my heart seeing her recover.
Asked whether or not he was vaccinated or plans to get immunised, he said: “I will never put that gene therapy in me!
“I always said if I got sick I trust the natural immunity I have. I needed some oxygen, steroids and antibiotics (for COVID pneumonia). I had to fight it and won.
“What angers me is people who do not do their own research, come to conclusions and are called conspiracy theorists because they are uncovering the truth.
“The conspiracies of today will be proven tomorrow and accepted as yesterday’s truths.”
Now heading into his fifth week on the road to recovery, he said he’s feeling much better.
“I just needed to start walking a bit every day. I walk around the cricket grounds near my house. At first it took me 23 minutes walking very slow but moving.
“I fell down once when I started because my balance was still off from getting over the vertigo – that was my biggest fight, but I will conquer it.”
In the interim, he said walking up and down the steps at home was hard work.
“Whenever I try to lift anything that’s heavy I realise I still have a long way to go.
“Now I walk around the cricket field everyday, one day I did it in just over six minutes. When it took me 23 minutes I stopped twice and fell down once. Now I’m doing two laps.
“My wife is almost back to normal and she recently got her sense of smell back.”
Darren Burchall tested positive for COVID on July 7th, but he said he had a headache and sore throat from Monday, July 5th.
“My wife tested positive on July 14th – the day I went to the hospital.”
He was placed in a ward with other patients battling COVID-19, where he watched some patients make it and saw others die.
“There was an old man who was fighting for a couple of days. About two hours before he died he started to make that death rattle sound and I told the guy next to me he doesn’t have long.
“I remembered that sound from my mama’s last hours. I used to always talk to the old guy and often called the nurses when his Oxygen mask fell off. When he stopped breathing I went to check him and called the nurse – he was dead.
“I was on a ward where I saw vaxxed people shipped off to ICU. One didn’t come back but a couple did.
“One the guys on my ward ran 5K everyday and only had one vax. He went to ICU and came back. We clapped and cheered when he was wheeled back.”
Asked whether his COVID experience had changed him or his outlook on life, he replied: “No, it hasn’t changed me.
“I live how I love and love how I live. I am afraid of being around people right but that will pass.
“I nearly died 15 years ago when I had two heart attack in 10 days. This was the same type of experience.”
But he said: “The elements of the Earth is not yet ready to be without me.
“COVID is a very nasty disease if it gets to your lungs. I would say eat well, exercise, stay hydrated and keep your immune system strong.
“I had several students with COVID in and out of my class for the past year. But teachers get tired at the end of the year and that’s why I caught COVID 10 days before end of the schoolyear.
“My immunity was compromised and this DELTA Variant is very contagious. Even after suffering the way I did I still won’t take a mRNA vaccine. I trust my immune system it has bought me through a lot of illness.”
As a teacher who has travelled and worked around the world, he added: “I have had some bad experiences with vaccines and this is one reason I won’t get this one.
“I don’t like the uncertainty of mRNA vaccines. I do not really value the opinions of scientists who are on government payrolls.
“I dig deeper and you would be surprised what you learn when you turn off the mainstream media and search for yourself.
“I also know that the very near future means that in order to travel means we’re going to need vaccines. Hopefully they will make more traditional vaccines available that won’t alter the way the human body fights disease.”
At one point he said he nearly died.
“I passed out and I don’t know how long I was out for. I had gotten up to go to the toilet and I don’t know what happened in the bathroom.
“My wife found me about a half hour later. I was dreaming while I was out. I dreamed that I was talking to my dearly departed mother and she told me go home to my wife because your wife needs you.
“When I came to, my wife was massaging me because my whole body had cramped up. Every muscle in my body went into spasms. I have never been in so much pain in my life – my stomach muscles, my chest, my back and legs all at one time. She was able to call the ambulance.
“The ambulance came and these idiots left me home – told me to take two Paracetamols and go to bed. I felt like I was on the way out – I’m not joking and my wife – she brought me back. She just massaged me with alcohol and water. Without that woman I won’t be here today because I was on my way.”
Now that they’re both standing stronger on the road to recovery, he insists that he would not advise anyone “to go take some gene therapy or no vaccination”.
“I’m not going to tell nobody to do it. I believe we have an immune system and I just needed some help with the hospital to enable my natural immunity to overcome this.”