A fit and healthy Sydney man who contracted coronavirus 18 months ago now faces the shocking reality of needing a life-saving heart transplant.
Rob Hodgson, an avowed ‘fitness addict’, collapsed at his home six months after doing what he believed to be a full recovery from Covid-19.
The 38-year-old prosthetist developed a cough days after returning from a work trip to New York last March and quickly began to experience severe back pain.
Rob Hodgson, 38, (pictured) contracted coronavirus 18 months ago and despite a full recovery he now faces the shocking reality of needing a life-saving heart transplant
Amanda, Rob’s wife, also a fitness oriented, was also infected with the virus and described the pain as “glandular fever on steroids”.
“It was like this thing in me was eating away at every ounce of energy I had,” the performance coach told Daily Mail Australia.
We are very fit and motivated people, I thought – is that the reward we get for our efforts to be healthy? ”
Amanda said she could barely walk from her bedroom to her bathroom and was bedridden for several days in the two weeks it took the couple to recover.
Not the type to let Covid-19 have the last laugh, the couple embarked on a fitness program to prove to themselves that they had made a full recovery.
Rob, an avid cyclist, took part in an epic 1300 km bike ride in October to raise money for childhood cancer. The healthy couple could never have expected what was to come.
Amanda said her husband cycled through the home gym at their home in western Sydney on a seemingly normal day last November.
Rob’s also fitness-oriented wife Amanda (pictured) was also infected with the virus and described the pain as “glandular fever on steroids”.
After complaining about not feeling well, Amanda said she assured her husband it was probably just the heat, not thinking for a moment of linking her condition to Covid-19.
Just 45 minutes later, Rob collapsed in the living room, his Apple Watch recording his heart rate at a rapid 210 beats per minute.
Paramedics who treated the fitness fanatic advised him to see a GP the next day, but ultimately decided he didn’t need to be hospitalized.
Amanda said the irony was that NSW Health asked the couple to go to Westmead Hospital for a check-up six months after recovering from Covid.
Rob had decided not to show up for his test due to professional commitments, telling his wife that he thought the test was unnecessary due to his form and health.
While the performance trainer was in the hospital, she casually mentioned her husband’s unexpected collapse to the doctor, whose response surprised her.
“I called him and told him they seemed to be worried about your episode,” she said, adding that the doctor had scheduled Rob an appointment with a cardiologist the same week.
The 38-year-old underwent an echocardiogram test which determined his heart was too weak to withstand a “stress test” that involved running on a treadmill.
Rob was eventually diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition that limits the amount of blood the heart is able to pump through the body.
The 38-year-old prosthetist (pictured) developed a cough days after returning from a work trip to New York City last March, but didn’t start suffering from heart irregularities until November.
Medical specialists determined that the coronavirus left extensive scars on his heart after sweeping the organ.
“It’s not common but it does happen. People generally recover, ”explained Amanda.
“The amount of blood he’s pumping from his heart is really low, so the good muscle that isn’t scarred is really stretched.”
Cardiologists recommended that Rob be urgently equipped with an internal defibrillator, letting the patient know that he may never need it again, or that it could save his life.
Amanda described this period of their life as “really tumultuous”, with Christmas around the corner and her children, ages 7 and 9, starting to ask tough questions.
The next big blow to her recovery came on January 5 when Amanda heard a blood-curdling scream in the home gym.
She rushed downstairs to find her husband leaning on the kitchen bench trying to absorb the painful shock of his defibrillator.
Amanda told her husband to lie down and breathe, but her heart was unable to regulate, triggering a second shock from the defibrillator just 45 seconds later.
Rob described the sensation to his wife as the sensation of touching an electric fence but the pain coming from “the inside out”.
Cardiologists at Westmead Hospital recommended that Rob be urgently equipped with an internal defibrillator, telling the patient he may never need it again, or it could save his life.
Six months later, the defibrillator blew up again, just as Rob had been able to overcome his fear of the device by doing cardiac rehabilitation on his bike.
The 38-year-old underwent heart surgery at Westmead Hospital last Monday, the results bringing the family more distressing news.
Rob’s cardiologist said the remaining muscle in his heart was heading for heart failure and referred him to a transplant specialist.
Amanda said from her own research that the average wait time for a heart transplant is six months, which she is grateful for.
She said that since meeting him 20 years ago, Rob has been passionate about health and exercise, with his love for sports being a big part of who he is.
He is allowed to take long walks, but can only exercise when Amanda is at home, who sits and watches him at the home gym to make sure he is safe.
Amanda said it was sometimes difficult to spend time in the cardiology department surrounded by incapacitated and elderly people seeking the same treatment as her husband.
The performance coach said she recently had a “tough day” where she couldn’t help but feel shaky and emotional.
“I wake up every morning with one eye open, not knowing how I’m going to feel each day,” she said.
Sydney’s mother said she was forced to talk to Rob in the ‘nooks and crannies’ of the house because her two sons did not know the extent of their father’s condition.
“They know he can’t exercise and has less energy, but we have to start talking about it,” she said, adding that she wanted to wait until the end of the school holidays. .
Amanda said since sharing her story on social media, the family has received an “incredible” response with strangers and friends ready to “jump in and help.”
“Sharing our story has been wonderful, it has really helped us,” she said.
“I have always been upfront and honest about sharing the good and the bad in my life, high performance is about learning how to get up when you are down.”
Amanda (pictured) said since sharing her story on social media the family has received an ‘amazing’ response with strangers and friends ready to ‘jump in and help out’