Giorgio Rusconi: “My experience with Covid-19 in Italy”

Giorgio Rusconi, italian ALDE Individual Member, wrote about his double experience with Covid19, as witness and as a volunteer

My name is Giorgio Rusconi. I am 65 years old, retired in May 2019, loving and practicing a lot of sports, preferably outdoor.

As a volunteer of the Italian Red Cross, serving on ambulances twice a week and on ski patrol on snow slopes as well, in the past three months I had the opportunity to be both a witness and a protagonist of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy. I made this introduction because my rescuer activity is almost certainly the cause of my infection.

On Friday 13th March, I got sick with 38° fever and a cough, with a lot of pain in my bones. The day after I called my General Practitioner, receiving a message saying he was unavailable* and suggesting I call the Emergency Medical Service at the local hospital. This second call was diverted to a member of Lombardy Region in charge of the COVID-19 emergency. After about 30 minutes, I finally spoke to an operator who asked me for my information and symptoms, telling me that a doctor would call me back soon. Shortly after, a very kind doctor called me back to confirm my symptoms and to suggest that I take paracetamol to lower the fever and to keep my breathing and lungs under control. My cough disappeared after a few days but the fever never went down, while oximetry continued to be pretty good (SpO2: 95-96).

One week later, a little worried by the fast spreading of the coronavirus in Lombardy, and with my body temperature not coming down, I called the Emergency Service asking to be transported to the emergency room to receive a swab test to check if I had been infected and they agreed to send me an ambulance. Ten minutes later, they called me back warning that the emergency rooms of the local major hospitals were closed because they were overcrowded and I would be diverted far away from home with no certainty that I could be tested as my symptoms were not 100% those of COVID-19. It was a clear invitation to stay at home to take self-care, and not to crowd hospitals further. Thanks to my wife’s pressure, on Sunday I called my cardiologist. He immediately shared my wife’s concern and recommended I go to the hospital the next day.

On the morning of Monday 23rd March, I called the Emergency Service and a Red Cross ambulance with two colleagues of mine came to take me to the Hospital. I was lucky enough to be able to walk on my own and I checked in immediately, while dozens of ambulances carrying patients were queuing outside waiting for free beds.

It wasn’t an easy day that I spent in the ER waiting room. The hall was mixed up, with most chairs replaced by beds and stretchers. As I walked in alone, despite my high fever, I spent all day sitting – and sometimes laying down – on a very uncomfortable chair. I received thorax x-rays and my blood was analysed. Late in the afternoon, it was decided that I had to be hospitalized.

When I was discharged from the hospital two weeks later, I saw my x-rays: bilateral interstitial pneumonia with severe breathing difficulties. I think I was lucky not to have known the results before – I could cope with my fifteen days’ hospitalization more easily and less stressed.

Two months after the first symptoms, I have fully recovered and I’m back again serving the Red Cross.

Giorgio Rusconi

*When I entered the COVID-19 hospital wing, I found out I was to share the room with my General Practitioner who was hospitalised 12 days before me. 

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