United Kingdom: A woman who was about to get married in 2020 when she tested positive for Covid-19 is currently learning to walk again after spending over a year in hospital.
38-year-old occupational therapist Rachel Booth from Linthorpe, Teeside, opened up about her thoughts of suicide after she was diagnosed with pancreatitis and coronavirus at the same time.
She had been making preparations for her wedding day when she started experiencing tormenting heartburn at work in April 2020.
Rachel was immediately brought to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and placed under intensive care after medics found she had both acute pancreatitis and coronavirus.
The bride-to-be was not able to walk, stand or speak, and was eventually transferred to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, which specializes in pancreatitis, before being put through painful physiotherapy to help her regain movement.
Rachel described how visiting restrictions at the hospital during the pandemic left her feeling helpless and robbed her of her good mood.
“I tried video and phone calling a few times but I was so weak and my voice so quiet the effort was exhausting. Eventually I was allowed to have my mum visit.
I was very low in mood and mainly remember crying a lot and feeling helpless and even at times wished I did not wake from sleep.
I was suicidal at one point, I couldn’t see a future to be honest.”
While waiting for surgery Rachel’s condition got worse and she was placed back into the intensive care unit.
She went on to say:
“I have talked to family and staff about this time more recently, I apparently was on a ventilator on and off the longest of which was four days.
I do remember feeling very weak and unable to hold my phone. I was nil by mouth by this point and had a feeding tube and catheters in place.
I could hardly move, my voice was strained and difficult to hear due to having tubes down my throat when unconscious.”
“That first night on the new ward was terrifying. I was in my own room right at the bottom of the ward and I wasn’t used to being alone, as I’d always had a staff member with me in ICU.
I remember crying out most of the night. From here my health deteriorated and I went back and forth from the ward to ICU.”
“My hen do didn’t happen, my birthday in July. Then September 12 which should have been our wedding.
We had made the decision to postpone a few months back but, as we got closer to the date, I found myself getting lower in mood, feeling like I just wanted to be left alone.
Anthony made the day special. He came to visit dressed in a suit, brought me plastic flowers – you’re not allowed real ones.”
“I missed countless friends and family birthdays and feel guilty I didn’t even send a card.
My niece turned three in October. Although once I was able, we FaceTimed several times a week, but she had grown up so much and I missed her dearly.”
Rachel went back to James Cook Hospital this January for rehabilitation before she was eventually well enough to be discharged from the hospital on April 29.
She has since bought a motorized exercise cycle which she has set up at home.
“I am now home, however living downstairs and requiring help with all activities of daily living – mainly being hoisted.
My leg muscles have wasted away after my 13 months in hospital. I am currently unable to stand or walk.”
Now, Rachel is planning to cycle together with her uncle and father on her motorized bike at home as they cycle across the North-east of the country.
“I am going to try my very best to cycle along with them. They will be doing about 40 miles a day for a week, which I might not manage in the same time scale.
Each day is a real challenge, I had a bad day on Wednesday but I’ve been better since.
It’s all a slow process as I had such muscle wastage but I’m getting there slowly.
I will split any money I raise to both South Tees and Newcastle hospital charities.”
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