5 February 2021

Mum and daughter’s journey through intensive care

Theresa is a self employed cleaner from Southampton. In March 2020, she was brought into University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust with Covid-19.

Theresa and Stacey asked to leave a message for our staff...

Theresa explains, “If it wasn’t for the staff in the Intensive Care Unit, I wouldn’t be here today to see my family, friends, or grandkids. They are my angels.

My symptoms started off as just shivers. I thought I’d just picked up a cold because it is so easy to do whilst cleaning other people’s houses.

I didn’t really have what you would describe as normal Covid-19 symptoms over the next 10 days, and then all of a sudden, my breathing went, and I was struggling.”

Theresa’s daughter Stacey describes what happened next, “I called 111, and as soon as we did an oxygen reading, they immediately sent out an ambulance.

My mum was in hospital for three days with pneumonia. I remember getting a phone call from her saying “It’s ok, I am all good.” But within just two hours, they had to place her into an induced coma as her breathing started to deteriorate.”

Theresa doesn’t remember much of her hospital stay. “Whenever I think of that time, it is just blank. I was put into a coma to help my body fight. During my stay in Intensive Care, Covid-19 caused me to have kidney failure, heart and lung problems. I literally had everything thrown at me, and I nearly died twice.

When I woke up I thought I was just in there two days, but it turns out I had lost a whole month.

My first thought was to call my daughter so she knew I was ok. I was given my phone but my brain just went blank. I couldn’t even work a mobile! I didn’t know how to switch it on. And then I didn’t know how to search for my daughter’s number, so the nurse had to do it for me. It is like you have to learn everything again.”

Stacey speaks of her joy at that call: “I wasn’t expecting it. The nurse called me and asked “Do you want to speak to your mum?”

I burst out crying as I didn’t know she had woken up. Mum came on the phone, and I just remember her having this really husky voice. I didn’t know what to say. I just broke down. I wasn’t expecting it!

I had 28 days of not seeing my mum or being able to talk to her, and hearing her voice again was the best thing in the world. I had been receiving regular calls from the family liaison team – twice a day, so after 28 days to finally hear her voice, that was something special!”

“It’s just really weird because not only have you lost the time, but your body has changed too”, comments Theresa. “Because of my job, it is physical and I was quite toned, but when you are put in a coma, you lose all that muscle.

I’m slowly trying to build it up again. It is hard as you can’t do anything, you can’t go out too far, or go to a gym to use equipment.

I feel grateful that I am here, and there are a lot of people who can’t say the same. I am one of the lucky ones.

Once I woke up, the hard work began with physiotherapy. I had to learn to walk again and even had to re-learn simple tasks like how to feed myself. I would try to use a spoon and everything would just go down my front. It all took great effort – I couldn’t even spread butter on some toast!

I managed to get home within two weeks and my daughter moved in, to look after me.
I also continued my rehabilitation at home with the help of Stacey and my neighbours, walking up and down the stairs to strengthen my muscles.

Even nine months on, I can’t get out of the bath myself. I just don’t have the strength in my arms.

People need to realise that even once you’ve had it, coronavirus can still do a lot of damage to your body. I still have regular scans to check my lungs and heart.

The staff at UHS are simply amazing at what they do, and I wouldn’t be here today without them.

Stacey is so thankful to the Intensive Care Unit and to the staff: “It has always just been me and my mum, so when I thought I was going to lose her, it was the hardest thing ever.

I was told she wasn’t going to make it several times, but because of all the work that everyone in the hospital did, my mum came out.”

Let’s give our amazing NHS heroes room to do what they do best.

Our General Intensive Care Unit treats around 2,500 every year. All of them have severe, life-threatening conditions ranging from serious infections to injuries from major accidents. And it is where many patients with coronavirus are treated.

A gift to our appeal will help us to kit out the new state-of-the-art unit which is currently being built. Help us to give our sickest patients the world-class care they deserve.

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