Shirley's story

2010 had been a good year, both my parents had celebrated their 80th birthdays and their 60th wedding anniversary, my son got married in May and we were enjoying having so many things to celebrate.

On 18th December everything came to an abrupt halt, my husband, had had what we thought was a chest infection, was taken to hospital by ambulance with serious breathing problems, getting through 4 bottles of oxygen on the way to the hospital.

At the hospital he was checked over in A & E and taken straight to ITU which was the start of a very traumatic time for our family.

In ITU they put my husband in an isolation room as they thought he may have swine flu and would sedate and ventilate him for a couple of days, (actually 19 days) he slowly got worse over the next few days as we found out later he had double pneumonia, sepsis and multiple organ failure, they connected him to a dialysis machine and we were told "things are not good as everything is shutting down" and gave him a less than 10% chance of survival and "should he go into heart failure they would not try to resuscitate him".

On 22nd December (day 5) we saw the doctor who said there had been a "miracle" that he was now stable enough to have a CT scan, over the next few days he was making slow progress it would be our first Christmas in 28years of marriage that we never spent together it was my worst Christmas ever.

He was now fairly stable and we had hopes that he would come through it but on the 30th December we got a call to go to the hospital as he had taken a turn for the worse.

When we got there a nurse explained that he had arrested twice due to a mucus plug the size of a golf ball that had blocked his airway, luckily the consultant had managed to suck it out.

Things were now starting to look better and on 5th January they done a tractotomy and removed the ventilator he was still very poorly but had amazed all the doctors and nurses in how he had put up such a fight for life.

About a week later he was brought out of sedation his chest infection still quite bad, but he can not remember any of this, his first memories are not until early February, progress was up and down and he was moved to HDU at the end of February.

In HDU he was now making good progress delighting the nurses by lying in bed with his sunglasses on, in early march we were so excited the tractotomy was removed and he could talk, eat and drink again for the first time in nearly 3 months.

The first thing he wanted was beans on toast and my sister made him some fresh cream éclairs.

On the 15th March (my son's birthday) he was moved to Tressell Ward where 2 days later he got another infection but they managed to treat it quickly, finally he was discharged on 30th March 100 days after being admitted.

We were so pleased to have him back home, a day we all thought may never come.

He found the first few months at home very hard to deal with, he felt guilty for what everyone had been put through and even said we would have been better off without him, I think it was the trauma catching up with him as we would rather have him like that for a short while, than not have him at all.

We will never be able to thank everyone in ITU/HDU enough for saving his life they are all amazing people.