Coronavirus: Teacher writes about ‘horrendous’ Covid-19 battle

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By Katy Lewis
BBC News

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  • Coronavirus pandemic

Karen Thorp

picture copyrightKaren Thorp

picture captionKaren Thorp says she is “extremely happy to be alive”

A instructor who spent six weeks in hospital with coronavirus has written a 3,000-word account of her expertise on the recommendation of medics who handled her.

Karen Thorp, 51, from St Albans, believes she caught the illness in March whereas attending choir observe.

She left hospital in May after spending time in intensive care and mentioned writing down what occurred had helped her cope.

Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, mentioned it might use her story to “review and improve” care.

Ms Thorp, a kind 2 diabetic, mentioned her first symptom was “a scratchy throat”.

picture copyrightKaren Thorp

picture captionMs Thorp was taken to Watford General Hospital after falling on to her face

Days later, she fell on to her face on her doorstep and was taken to Watford General Hospital after a neighbour dialled 999.

At one stage a do-not-resuscitate order was positioned on her when she was moved into intensive care.

She emerged from sedation three weeks later, by which era she had been transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Now on a phased return to work at a particular faculty, she nonetheless has muscle pains, two numb fingers and has had some hair loss.

picture copyrightKaren Thorp

picture captionMs Thorp was placed on a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine at Watford General to assist her respiratory

Ms Thorp, who lives alone, praised NHS workers who “saved” her life however agreed to share her expertise as she thought it might be “useful”.

“There were details that were quite important for them to know, such as nurses saying ‘don’t worry, she is hard of hearing, she can’t hear you’, when I could hear them, and not changing the date on the wall in the ward which made me confused,” she mentioned.

“What was interesting is that until I’d written it down, I hadn’t found a way of saying it to anyone else.”

It additionally highlighted a time period when she was acutely aware however can not keep in mind something that occurred, although she made cellphone calls and despatched images to her household.

“I can cope with not remembering the three weeks in the ICU (intensive care unit) because I was asleep, but when there’s evidence you were awake but you don’t remember it, that’s hard,” she mentioned.

“This is the bit I find difficult, that’s harder than anything, so I now realise how important memories are.”

picture copyrightKaren Thorp
picture captionThere had been instances in hospital when Ms Thorp discovered it tough to even give a thumbs up

On her battle with coronavirus, she mentioned: “It’s quite horrendous and people need to know that. It gets the message out there how serious it can be.”

Addenbrooke’s Hospital mentioned it might “use her story, and others like it, as we continue to review and improve the care we provide”.

picture copyrightPA
picture captionWhen she got here out of sedation at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Ms Thorp thought she was dreaming

The spokeswoman mentioned many sufferers had been inspired to put in writing down their reminiscences.

“This can help them to come to terms with their illness, and ultimately assist with their recovery,” she mentioned.

Psychologist Dr Nicholas Troop, from the University of Hertfordshire, mentioned there was proof that “expressive writing” helped folks hyperlink “facts and feelings”.

“Other evidence suggests that writing is helpful when people develop new ways to manage emotions,” he mentioned.

But he mentioned it might have unfavorable impacts if folks didn’t use it to develop “new insights or strategies for dealing with emotions”.

Ms Thorp mentioned she felt recording her expertise was “almost like putting it to bed a little bit”.

“It’s there to read if I want it, so I don’t have to think about it in between,” she mentioned.

“Personally, it’s been important, cathartic and has made a difference.”

picture copyrightMichael Readman
picture captionMs Thorp took half in a gown rehearsal for The Merry Widow the day earlier than her first symptom appeared – no-one else within the forged turned sick

Extracts from Karen Thorp’s account

  • “My experience of waking up in the ICU is perhaps the most surreal experience of my life. I have never taken drugs but I was convinced that I was in some kind of drug-induced dream state or that someone was playing a very bizarre trick on me.”

  • “In the early hours, I was moved to intensive care, sedated, intubated and put on a ventilator. My family were informed that a do not resuscitate order had been put in place as, if my heart had stopped, there would be no point in attempting to restart it. Thankfully, this was later rescinded.”
  • “The nurse brought a phone over telling me that my sister was on the other end. I remember her sounding upset, telling me that everyone was sending me so many messages of support and that she and everyone loved me.”
  • “Another overriding memory of that time is of sitting in a chair rather than lying on a bed. I had an iPad attached to a metal arm in front of me. Playing on the i-pad were… old episodes of Top of the Pops from the 1980s. My sister was told by the nurse on the phone that I was mouthing along to the words of the songs. This was a great relief to my family as they knew this meant that my brain was functioning.”
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