Paul grateful to NHS for help received during hospital stay

Paul Henderson, 55, from Edinburgh

I was admitted to the western general hospital in Edinburgh on 24th March at around 15.00. I was in an induced coma by 23.00. Within 24 hours I was on a life support machine in ICU. I was in a coma for 35 days and in ICU for 37 days. 

I tested positive for covid almost immediately. I suffered a perforated colon, pleurisy, double pneumonia, had to go on a kidney dialysis machine for nearly 30 days. I had 8 blood transfusions, I had to get  tracheotomy. I also developed a clotting problem. 

On the 1st of May I  left  ICU, transferred to a medical ward and discharged 10 days later. During my time in ICU I was obviously unaware of what was going on at home. My family were very upset and my wife was traumatised. Around the 18th of April they took me out of a coma as they thought there may be brain damage. They asked me to squeeze the nurses hand, wiggle my toes, stick my tongue out, I could hear them but was confused. 

The consultant called my wife one evening to say “be prepared the worst, he may not make it”. I suffered horrendous dreams (delirium) and had a psychiatrist to help me work out that they were dreams. I am a big Hibernian supporter and go to the football games with my son Saul. Two of the players got to know that I was unwell and phoned my son to cheer him up, another two players sent me video messages to cheer me up. 

The support I got from family and friends was unbelievable. The staff at the hospital were amazing, they certainly saved my life. I hadn’t spoken to my mum for nearly 5 weeks, something that has never happened. I told my wife not to let her know I was unwell while I was self-isolating in March so she never knew I was in hospital. 

While I was recovering I tried to call her but got too upset to talk to her and stopped the call. This happened a couple of times. But on Saturday 9th of May I spoke to her. I still had a squeaky voice from the tracheotomy so wondered if she would know. She didn’t seem to. She was in a nursing home as she had Parkinson’s. My mum passed away 4 days later from coronavirus. I was gutted. I got more depressed and upset that I never saw her before she died. 

Forward on 6 months or so and I’m alive but not fully recovered. I’m deaf in one ear ( I had an ear infection around 15 March). I have scarring on the lungs, a frozen shoulder, and  get out of breath easily. The medication I was on included amlodipine, haloperidol anti-psychotic, folic acid, zopiclone. I’ve put on an enormous amount of weight as I can’t go running or climb any munros. 

I look forward to getting back to normal. I stay in Heriot in the Scottish Borders, and climb a hill behind the house as a training exercise, my best time is 24 minutes 50 seconds, now it takes me an hour. But at least I’m here to do it. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. 

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