…I had been in intensive care for 102 days. For the first two months my wife, Plum, had not been allowed to visit, instead receiving daily reports on my condition – recurrent delirium, two heart attacks, stents, kidney dialysis, pneumonia, memory loss and tracheotomy – all brought on by Covid.
Three times she was told I wouldn’t be resuscitated if I suffered any further deterioration and she had come to dread the ringing of the phone. But only when I got home did I fully realise how much she and the families of other Covid patients had suffered.
There is something selfish about being critically ill, although you don’t realise it at the time, when all your thoughts are of yourself. Doctors and nurses do everything they can to relieve the pain, but they never let you know that the smile they are wearing at your bedside may be masking their own exhaustion and fears.
For the first month at home I hobbled about with a walking frame, but soon a physiotherapist encouraged me to walk with a stick, eventually going with me to buy my newspapers. One day she didn’t come, so I decided to go alone. Off I went on the 50 paces down the road and was just passing the bar on the corner, when …
Bang! My face hit the pavement. The manager of the bar had seen me fall. Rushing out, he helped me into a chair, then called an ambulance. My face was a mess of blood. The no-clotting pills, which were now part of my 11-pills-a-day routine, were doing their job very well.
There was no waiting in the A&E department, my Covid history at the same hospital pushing me to the head of the queue. But it took hours for the bleeding to stop, during which time I was given X-rays and a brain scan before it was decided that the only real damage was to my self-esteem.
For the next four months I never went out alone, and every night I would watch the Covid reports on television. There was a very good one about Michael Rosen, the children’s author, who had been in intensive care with Covid at the same time that I was, although in another hospital…