The Survivor – Derek Aitken

The Survivor – Derek Aitken

You might be sitting­­ there swilling a well-earned post COVID lockdown Corona, watching the footy, clicking Add to Cart, doing your knitting, sipping a Martini or maybe you’re wondering if there really is a virus after all.

Let me tell you the true tale of a dear friend in L.A. located at the other end of the giant lap pool that is the Pacific Ocean.

Derek Aitken is an innocent sigh-stander if you will, a man who may well have breathed his last breath if it wasn’t for modern medicine.

In early March he travelled from Auckland to Australia and home to Los Angeles. As you will read below in his personal account, his trans-Tasman-Pacific journey went from a fun-filled, festive weekend brimming with joy to a life of debilitating illness and the long road to recovery.

“Most non-believers haven’t known anyone that has had it so they tend to not believe. But it’s very real after experiencing it first-hand!”

Living with the Coronavirus and recovering from it! 

First published on Facebook, March 25, 2020

“I can tell you it’s very real after experiencing it firsthand, but it would be an extremely complex conspiracy if somehow it did not exist.”

This is my first and only post about this since contracting COVID-19 nearly 3 weeks ago (date can’t be pinpointed exactly).

As of this week, I am now recovered from this virus so I wanted to post about my experience in the hope it may help with perspective from a first-hand account and also give context for anyone that may go through what I did (fingers crossed you won’t).

I first felt symptoms 2 weeks ago which started off as a hot and cold sweat in the night. It was fairly light at this stage and I had been travelling long haul and attending a triple 40th birthday party weekend just days prior (this was before any travel restrictions were put in place around the globe and before any isolating was taking place). I never thought this could be C-19 and completely put this down to the weekend and being run down.

The next day I was flying back to the US and I had body aches and then shortness of breath. My morning flight was cancelled to LA so I ended up waiting all day and catching a night flight to LA via San Francisco. I deteriorated but wanted to get home and still thought this was just being rundown.

By the time I reached LA I knew this had become something else so said to Adam we shouldn’t touch and I should isolate until I can be tested. I went to Cedars Sinai ER the next day and had the test and chest x-rays completed over a 4hr period. A few days later the Dr phoned to say I tested positive – results take 2-3 days to come back (this is standard timing currently).

That day I spent speaking to everyone I had been in contact with prior to self-isolation – friends, businesses, airlines etc. Friends and family were responsible and all got tested and self-isolated until they received their results. As far as I’m aware to this day, I did not pass this on to anyone I saw on that trip – everyone tested negative.

In the 8 days from first symptoms, I deteriorated to a state of not being able to get out of bed largely due to the body aches, fatigue and fever, and I had a full loss of smell and taste and didn’t feel like eating. I mainly felt body aches, and shortness of breath during these days. I was taking Tylenol & Aleve to reduce fever and aches as directed by the Doctors. Ibuprofen had been said to potentially exacerbate Coronavirus so I decided to avoid that. The 8th day was the hardest where I questioned if I needed to go to hospital.

I was completely wiped out this day and my symptoms were at their peak. After sleeping all day and waking that afternoon and feeling slightly better, I decided to see how I felt the following day, and that I would likely go to hospital if there was no improvement.

On the 9th day however, I woke to my body aches and fever greatly reduced. I only had the shortness of breath, which was quite bad, and maybe more noticeable because my other symptoms were lessened. In the following 3 days the shortness of breath was concerning and so I completed a few steam sessions with boiling water and essential oils in a pot and my head over it. I had short breaths, which was a struggle, but bearable for those few days.

After 3 days this started to go away and now several days after that, I am feeling recovered. I am waiting for an email from the Dr today or tomorrow to say I am out of the viral period (I am no longer positive for Covid-19) and my complete isolation (being confined to one room of the house) has lifted. I will still of course be practicing social distancing to be responsible to others.

I was lucky enough to have had an amazing chef/nurse Adam Saunders looking after me – he has been wonderful! I also had the LA County Health nursing team check in every day to monitor my condition. I believe this may have hit me slightly harder than most people due to my immune system being weak at the time after all the travel/events.

Feel free to reach out directly if you have questions around this. I still don’t know anyone else with this virus so having someone in your network to chat to is a good resource.

I hope everyone stays healthy, stays home. – Derek Aitken.

What’s next for Derek?

Derek is a fine man who can execute your next event or exhibition seamlessly or enthral you with a magnificent, spontaneous plate dance! Now that he has fully recovered, he is greatly looking forward to launching a fitness apparel brand and community with his partner Adam Saunders in July. Follow them on Instagram @fivebyfiveapparel for updates on their launch date. Meanwhile there’s a delicious, comforting recipe below that he thought you might like.


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Blueberry Peach Pie

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  • Author: Sally's Baking Addiction


A classic lattice-topped homemade blueberry peach pie bursting with juicy flavor. Serve with some vanilla ice cream for an unbeatable summer treat! Source


Units Scale

Homemade Pie Crust (full recipe makes 2 crusts: 1 for bottom, 1 for top)

3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
3 cups sliced, peeled fresh peaches* (about 5)
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries*
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten


  1. The crust: Prepare my pie crust recipe through step 5.
    Make the filling by whisking 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the flour,
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and allspice into a large bowl.
    Using a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the peaches and blueberries. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Roll out the chilled pie dough: On a floured work surface, roll out one of the discs of chilled dough (keep the 2nd in the refrigerator). Turn the dough about a quarter turn after every few rolls until you have a circle 12 inches in diameter. Carefully place the dough into a 9×2 inch pie dish. Tuck it in with your fingers, making sure it is smooth. Spoon the filling into the crust. Cut the butter into tiny pieces and randomly place on top of the filling.
  3. Arrange the lattice: Remove the other disc of chilled pie dough from the refrigerator. Roll the dough into a circle that is 12 inches diameter. Using a pastry wheel, sharp knife, or pizza cutter, cut strips 1 inch wide. Carefully thread the strips over and under one another, pulling back strips as necessary to weave. Press the edges of the strips into the bottom pie crust edges to seal. Use a small paring knife to trim off excess dough. Crimp the edges with a fork, if desired. (Alternatively, you can simply cover the filling with the 12-inch pie dough circle. Cut slits in the top to form steam vents. Trim and crimp the edges.)
  4. Brush the lattice top with the beaten egg. A very thin coating – you don’t want scrambled eggs on top of your dough. Mix the remaining 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar with the 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Sprinkle over crust.
  5. Place the pie onto a large baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Keeping the pie in the oven, turn the temperature down to 375°F (190°C) and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes. After the first 20 minutes of bake time, I place a pie crust shield on top of the pie to prevent the edges from browning too quickly.
  6. Allow the pie to cool for 4 full hours at room temperature before serving. This time allows the filling to thicken up. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


Native parfait of berries, rosella, finger lime, Kakadu plum with macadamia crunch




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