An ice cream man has credited fruity ice lollies with saving his life – after coronavirus left him at death’s door.
Grandad Kevin Sheldon was so ill he was unable to eat or drink as he struggled with every breath while lying in bed at home in Bucknall for three weeks.
Instead his devoted wife Tracy rummaged in the freezer for leftover lollies which she would lovingly feed to him around the clock.
The £1 sugar-filled ‘Brain Freezer’ treats were enough to give Kevin the strength to keep on fighting Covid-19 as he flitted in and out of consciousness.
The 59-year-old’s health then took a turn for the worse when he developed blood clots on his lungs and legs.
As he was rushed to the Royal Stoke University Hospital, Kevin’s loved-ones feared they would never see him again as he already suffers with COPD.
But with the expertise of medics – and his favourite lollies – Kevin is hoping to be back in his NHS rainbow-liveried van before long.
The dad-of-four – who has been selling ice creams in Stoke-on-Trent for 48 years – said: “I remember my dad on his deathbed, his mouth was completely dry and mine was the same. I could only take tiny sips of water and I couldn’t eat anything.
“My wife had the idea of getting the ice lollies. I still had some because I fell ill before the end of the season.
“It was the blue Brain Freezers that got me through. I could suck and chew on the ice. It kept my mouth moist.
“Tracy never left my side except to get more lollies, she would feed them to me at 4am.
“All my family thought that if I ever got Covid that would be the end of me – and it nearly was.
“I genuinely believe that if it wasn’t for my wife being by my side feeding them to me for two weeks, I wouldn’t be here today. Every time I needed something Tracy was there.
“I went through more ice lollies in those two weeks than I would normally eat in a season.”
Kevin’s nightmare began when he first fell ill along with Tracy in October.
The couple sent off for a test and the results confirmed their worst fears on October 18.
While Tracy battled through, Kevin got weaker and weaker.
Now he has spoken out in the hope others will take the virus seriously.
Kevin recalled: “Our symptoms were completely different – my wife couldn’t smell or taste whereas I had a temperature and couldn’t breathe.
“I was completely knocked off my feet, I couldn’t get out of bed, but my wife just plodded on through the 14-day quarantine period.
“I didn’t know what was going on around me. I had no idea how long I had been in bed. I slept sporadically.
“I can’t remember any details. The TV was on but I wasn’t watching. I had no sense of time. I was just drifting in and out of consciousness.”
An ambulance was twice called only for Kevin to refuse to go to hospital because he feared he would never see his family again.
But following a telephone consultation with his GP on November 2, Kevin was given no choice.
He added: “My doctor called the ambulance after I explained about my legs. I knew this time I couldn’t refuse.
“The Covid had caused clots which was why I was in so much pain. I couldn’t even sit in a chair with my legs down.
“When I left home my wife didn’t think she would see me again. I was scared I was going to die. There were points where I didn’t think I would make it.
“On the Covid ward there were so many ill people and we weren’t allowed any visitors. I could talk to the guys in the beds next to me – we were all going through the same thing.
“People would disappear in the night and that’s when you knew they had died. You would see them being taken away.
“But the medics were brilliant and kept me going. As soon as I could walk with a stick I was allowed home.
“After being discharged I still had a long road ahead. Apart from the hospital stint I was at home for eight weeks.
“It was so scary, I’m not a soft guy but I did think it was curtains.
“I’ve had pneumonia before but this was worse. People must take this virus seriously – it’s a killer.”
Kevin, of Dividy Road, now feels around 80 per cent better and is hoping to be fully fit when the ice cream season resumes.
His patch covers Blurton and Newstead – and sometimes further afield.
He said: “I love my job – I started in 1972 as a lad.
“When I was in hospital, I had lots of texts but my vision was blurry so I couldn’t read them. I was so touched that some of my customers had sent me messages. They have all been encouraging me.
“I can’t wait to be back out there again – and I’ll definitely be having an ice lolly for old time’s sake!”