Ian Hawkins, from Walsall, was admitted to Walsall Manor Hospital on March 29, 2020, after developing symptoms of the virus.
Within 24 hours the father-of-two was placed on full ventilation and over the next few weeks he suffered pneumonia, sepsis, multiple-organ failure and a secondary bacterial infection.
He was finally able to leave hospital in June 2020 and has attended regular Critical Care Rehabilitation clinics at Walsall Manor Hospital.
He said: “The clinical aspect of your recovery in ICU is just half the story – the journey you go on afterwards with rehabilitation is a whole new challenge and just as vital to your future and the life you want to lead.”
Ian is now looking forward to the birth of his second grandchild later this year – his first granddaughter was born while he was in critical care and she was lifted up to the window of the unit so that he could see her.
He added: “I found it really helped me to set goals. Those goals may only have been small to start with – walking to the kitchen for example. But then I’d build on those goals – walk to the kitchen and back. Walk to the kitchen for breakfast, then again for lunch, and tea. I was able to return to work last summer and have managed to walk a distance of 15 miles now.
“Rehabilitation can be hard but Xana and the other staff I’ve worked with in the community have been encouraging me all the way. I decided I wanted to push myself as hard as I could as I want to have the best life possible. We only have one life and I want to make the most of mine.”
Walsall Healthcare’s Critical Care Rehabilitation Team supports long-term patients on their recovery journey using a host of approaches to cover both physical and psychological support. Over the last 12 months more than 250 patients have used the service.
Xana Marriott, Senior Sister for Critical Care Rehabilitation, said: “A period in critical care affects different patients in different ways; as Ian says, the clinical part may have come to its conclusion but there’s still a whole road ahead for patients.
“Rehabilitation is a team effort that involves, patients, their families or friends and a whole range of healthcare professionals all working together to achieve the best possible outcomes after a significant event.
“The effects of being in critical care are wide ranging. Patients can experience extreme fatigue, weakness, depression, hallucinations, insomnia, nightmares, chronic pain and sometimes survivors’ guilt. It is so important to build up a relationship with the patient and be guided by what their hopes and goals are as well as support them with all the necessary interventions that help them realise their potential, managing expectations along the way.
“It is extremely rewarding to be involved in patient rehabilitation and to see people’s confidence and abilities grow, enhancing their quality of life. All of our patients have been extremely ill – many have come so close to dying – and to see their progress is so satisfying.”
The Critical Care Rehabilitation Team runs multi-disciplinary clinics twice a week supported by physiotherapists Amy Bonner and Beth Baker which help to support general ICU patients and additionally Covid-19 survivors. The team has recently been joined by new team member Donna Lawley, Critical Care Rehabilitation Support Sister.
Xana and Donna follow up all critical care patients when they are stepped down to a ward at Walsall Manor Hospital.