A father who spent over fifty days in intensive care with COVID-19 has praised his care and urged local people to continue to follow national guidance to prevent the spread of the virus.
Stephen King returned home last week in time to spend Father’s Day with his wife and two sons after being cared for at East Surrey Hospital in Redhill.
He urged local people to do their bit to prevent other people getting as unwell as he has been.
Stephen said: “Everyone should know that this virus is serious. People need to respect the guidance; you don’t know who is going to get it and even if you’re ok you could pass it on to someone who could get very seriously ill.”
Stephen – a sports car enthusiast who is secretary of a youth football club in Crawley – was rushed to hospital after calling an ambulance on 6 April. He had felt lethargic and suffered headaches before developing a persistent productive (not dry) cough. He was taken to intensive care at East Surrey Hospital and remained there for over fifty days, much of that time breathing with the support of a ventilator.
Stephen said: “I cannot thank the staff at East Surrey enough. I’m just happy I’m still here – it is only by the grace of god and the sheer skill of the people at this hospital that I am here. The team in intensive care were incredible. I remember coming around to the staff saying ‘your family want to see you and your car is waiting for you to drive when you get home!’ They then spent days helping me to drink again, even crushing up ice cubes for me – nothing was too much to ask.”
Since moving to a ward and not being able to sit up by himself, Stephen has received physiotherapy and occupational therapy up to four times a day as well as input from dietetics and speech and language therapy. This support is crucial to patients’ recovery and in Stephen’s case means he is now able to walk a few steps with a walking frame.
Stephen said: “The whole team on Capel Annex Ward have been excellent. I’ve had to be quite determined – they’ve given me challenges most days and that’s helped me to progress.”
“I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this if they don’t have to, which is why it’s important that people act responsibly, listen to the guidance and take the necessary precautions.”
After such a long time in hospital, Stephen was delighted to be going home in time for Father’s Day: “My family have all been absolutely amazing. My wife Carol sent me text messages every single day that I was able to read when I came around. I have felt her support with me every step of the way and I am just so grateful to her. My two boys Rob and Bradley have supported her and their grandparents so well too and I’m so happy to be able to celebrate Father’s Day with them. After that, it’s our 30th wedding anniversary in August and I am so glad that I’m here to see it.”
Laura Kelly, senior respiratory physiotherapist at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said: “It has been incredibly rewarding helping Stephen with his recovery. It takes a real multidisciplinary team effort, from the emergency department, the expert support in intensive care, the nurses and all the support staff on the wards. Stephen has engaged in hours of therapy and we are so very happy that he’s made such good progress.”
Dr Ravi Kumar, clinical lead for anaesthetics at Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “I recollect my first conversation with Stephen after we had taken his tracheostomy tube out, and cannot forget his laughter when I said that my team (Liverpool) should be given the Premier League title this year! We know how devastating this illness can be. Stephen has indeed made a remarkable recovery; he’s had incredible mental strength and resolve to beat this illness, and there’s been a real team effort not just within critical care but over his entire time in hospital. It is journeys like these which keep the team going and gives them belief and confidence. I give him my very best wishes for the future.”