More than 190 patients have now recovered from Coronavirus after being treated in North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust’s two hospitals.
Andrew Wilkinson recalls how he fell ill from Coronavirus and how the NCIC medical teams ‘saved his life.
Andrew is finally back home in Whitehaven after spending nearly two weeks in the trust’s two hospitals, but for a while he feared for his life.
The 37-year-old electrical engineer, said: “I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I did. It was awful and a whole week of my life was wiped out while I was in a coma.”
Andrew took ill at home, one Friday in early April, he said: “I had a cough and didn’t feel too great. I was lying on the sofa and I just felt hot and lethargic. My wife, Nicola, checked my temperature and it was 38.4.”
Nicola, who had phoned 111 for advice, said: “Andrew was hot. He had goosebumps on his arms. He stayed at home that night.”
But the following day, Andrew was no better, Nicola explained: “His temperature had risen to 39.5. He was really weak, felt sick and was very tired. I called 111 again as Andrew’s breathing was quite fast. I had to time it for them on the phone.”
Things moved quite quickly after that when Andrew was taken to the West Cumberland Hospital in an ambulance – this is when Nicola feared for the life of her husbands as due to regulations she was unable to go to the hospital with Andrew.
“I thought it was the last time I was going to see him as obviously I couldn’t go with him,” she said.
In hospital, Andrew’s oxygen levels were falling. He had an oxygen bag but soon after Nicola received a call to say they were taking Andrew to ITU.
Nicola said: “I felt so helpless. I didn’t think I was going to see him again.”
Andrew spent six nights in an induced coma on a ventilator before he was woken by medics.
Although he was still classed as critical and was still very poorly, but as the days went by Andrew got stronger and more stable.
He said: “They had to move me from Whitehaven to the Cumberland Infirmary. I travelled across with a medical team. They were fantastic looking after me.”
At the Cumberland Infirmary, Andrew went through another series of tests.
“I’d be lying down for ages so the first thing was to try and get me to sit up in a seat. A nurse called Lauren was helping me.
“When I’d been lying down I had tried to use my arms and legs as I was aware that my muscles would be weaker because I’d not been using them.
“The physio did a lot of work with me. I used a zimmer frame to walk around the ward.
“The following day, a lady called Jess helped me. She was an absolute superstar and she got me moving. I was walking around the ward with no aids.”
Andrew was moved onto Beech Ward where his recovery continued – to the point where he no longer needed oxygen.
He managed to walk 30m unaided and his oxygen levels rose to 97.
“The moment they told me I was going home I was very emotional,” he said. “I could see the exit door and I just wanted to get home. I lost about three stone in weight but that’s a crash diet no one wants to go on.”
Andrew is now back at home and has managed to walk to the end of his road. He is getting stronger by the day and building his muscles back up.
Andrew said: “I am so grateful to everyone who treated and helped me. I’d like to thank a nurse called Hazel who looked after me for three nights as well. All the staff in ITU are so good. They saved my life. They are amazing.”
Dr Mary Hewson, a respiratory consultant at NCIC, said: “To see a patient go from recovery to discharge gives a real boost to the team. I was so pleased to see Andrew recover.”