Hi, my name is Daniel. I'm 44 years old and I live in Kent with my wife, Sarah, and our 4-year-old son Benjamin.
On August 7th 2020 I had a telephone consultation with my GP as I had a really nasty stomach pains. After speaking to me for a minute or two she said I don't like the sound of this. Can you come down to te surgery?", which I did.
Within about thirty seconds of me going into the consulting room, my GP was sufficiently unhappy with my condition that was she calling for an ambulance to whisk me away to Medway Maritime Hospital, firmly strapped to a stretcher and feeling incredibly ill and uncomfortable.
Although I didn't know at the time, I had severe Acute Necrotising Pancreatitis, and I'd end up spending 170 days in hospital, 78 of which were in intensive care, before I'd get to go home again.
A day or so after getting to hospital I was put into an induced coma for about a fortnight, put on a ventilator and given a tracheostomy. Like many other people who have been in comas, I had very vivid dreams (although I'm not sure if the dreams I can actually remember are from when I was under huge amounts of drugs after I came out of my coma). I've heard that a lot of people who've had these coma/delirious dreams have had really frightening and disturbing dreams, but I was really lucky, as mine were mostly benign, silly and sometimes amusing.
That said, once I was awake I was very confused, found that I couldn't move anything other than the index finger of my right hand, suffered from fairly frequent panic attacks and couldn't speak for two months, which was one of the most frustrating experiences I've ever had.
After a while I started to get severe temperature spikes, which really concerned the medical staff and were very unpleasant. It turned out I now also had Sepsis, and needed a huge number of antibiotic treatments to sort it out.
By the time the second Covid lockdown started, it looked like I was coming out of the woods and then I received the devastating news that I had tested positive for Covid-19.
Not only that, but I was told that they didn't consider that I was strong enough to be ventilated, so they wouldn't put me on a ventilator. At the time, all I really knew about Covid was that ventilators were lifesavers, and since I wasn't well enough to be put on one I thought it was curtains for me.
I asked the doctor nervously "Will I die?"
She replied "I hope not," very glumly. Not terribly reassuring, but what else could she say?
To add insult to injury, this more-or-less coincided with the hospital banning visitors as an anti-Covid precaution, which meant that I went from seeing my wife for a couple of hours a day to not seeing her at all, other than through video chat, which is good but not quite the same.
As a consequence, I became very fed up and depressed for a while. it would hardly have helped if I had known at the time that I had also been put on a "Do Not Resuscitate" notice by the hospital as they believed that I would have been unable to survive a resuscitation attempt.
A few days after Covid diagnosis something changed in me after I spoke to a consultant who told me about the importance of a positive attitude in fighting Covid. I remember wondering how you can try to "fight" a disease - it didn't seem to make an awful lot of sense - but at the same time I became very bloody-minded and obstinate toward the virus. My attitude became "I'm not bloody well ready to go yet". Whether or not this made any proper difference, I don't know and probably never will, but it made feel better - like Covid was an absolute villain I had to get the better of. In many ways it was true.
I received fantastic treatment from everyone in Medway Maritime Hospital. Some of the people treating me had seen me on and off from the beginning to the end of my hospital stay. I can remember seeing a couple of consultants in December who had seen me at my worst in the August and they could scarcely believe I was still alive after having been through three life threatening illnesses in quick succession.
I was moved to Sheppey Community Hospital on 3rd January 2021 for rehabilitation and physiotherapy. Being in a small and relatively calm hospital after the very high-pressure environment of Medway Maritime at the height of the pandemic it felt like a little piece of heaven to me.
Eventually I was allowed home from hospital on January 25th 2021, and the treatment and physio I had received meant that I could walk a little bit on crutches, but I was still a long way from being able to manage normally, not least because the Pancreatitis has left me as an insulin-dependent diabetic.
My wife and I have been helped in a huge way by the Critical Care Support Network which is a really fantastic organisation which provides advice, support, and exercise classes to help me regain my strength and rebuild my life, and also a few laughs along the way. In particular, my wife really benefitted from emotional support from the group while I was critically ill. When you or a loved one are in such a dreadful situation it is so helpful to be able to speak to people who have been in a similar position, and the CC-SN is worth its weight in gold.