A recent Covid-19 Experience of a local u3a member

A recent Covid-19 Experience of a Hucknall and District u3a member

Member Alan Ratcliffe writes about his recent diagnosis and hospital treatment for Covid -19. If you read this you will have little doubt about the need for social distancing, hand washing and varying degrees of lockdown.It was written for close friends and family and I wish to thank Alan on our behalf for agreeing to share it with us.

Alan writes:
Thursday: today was a good day for a stroll in the garden. Yesterday I returned home after spending seven days in the Covid Unit of Kingsmill Hospital, having tested positive for Covid the previous Tuesday. Neither my wife Una nor my daughter Fionnuala was keen on me dying alone in hospital. However, we took the decision that my chances of surviving would be increased if I went into hospital. As the tailgate of the ambulance was raised I couldn’t help thinking I was taking my last look at them. I could see the anxiety in their faces and I’m sure they could see the anxiety in mine.

On arrival at hospital, I was wheeled in bed to see the doctor. He explained in very clear terms what were my chances of survival and what course of action he recommended. The bed was then wheeled around a labyrinth of corridors and I ended up in a very palatial room on my own. I thought that it would be a very comfortable room in which to die.

However, after a short while, the bed was on the move again and I ended up in a ward of about fifty feet square with three other men, the four beds being in the corners. The next day I was connected for most of the time to an infusion where liquids meant to kill the virus were pumped into my body.

The next day with the infusion now removed, I became more aware of the schedule of activities that would aid my recovery. Food would be served at specific times of the day but before that we were given menus from which to choose our meal. The menus had a really wide selection to choose from and when the food arrived, it was absolutely delicious.

Doctors appeared every day to inform each of us how we were doing. At regular interval, nurses would appear to check blood pressure and oxygen concentration in my blood. This was a vital factor in monitoring our progress. The oxygen level had to attain a certain level before we would be considered sufficiently healthy for us to be sent home.

Days were not so bad. There was always a flurry of activities and it did take a lot longer for normal activities, such as washing, toilet activities and even eating. We were allowed to choose our own techniques, whether that be bedpans, basins of water in bed or a shower. I was able to hobble over to the toilet and have a shower and a shave but at the start it took me an hour to complete the process.

The nights were rather different. We were allowed to make our own decisions as to when our individual bed lights were turned off, but the nights seemed interminably long, particularly if you cannot sleep. During the night, the nurses would appear at specific intervals to take the readings of blood pressure and oxygen levels. They didn’t rouse us and I had no difficulty in getting off to sleep when they had carried out their checks. Their smiling faces appearing in the middle of the night were a source of immense comfort. I felt I was being watched over by angels as I slept.

Finally the day came when the numbers came out right. I could not have been happier if I had won the lottery.During my time in the ward, there were a few comings and goings. Some left the ward and were allowed to go home to their families. Sadly, some left the ward but didn’t make it home. Of the ones who were happily returned to their families, to my knowledge, none were as old as I am.

On the day I was released, I believe there were almost five hundred deaths from Covid nationally in hospitals in the country.

Finally, I have to say that for their professional competence and their duty of care, whether they were cleaners, porters, food preparation people, nurses or doctors, this is the most dedicated and inspiring group of people I have ever met and they work at Kingsmill Hospital, Mansfield.

Alan Ratcliffe

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