As it come up to my 5th anniversary on 18th December of being admitted to ICU I often think why someone has chose the user name they have.
For me Luckyone is because I believe I was incredibly lucky to survive, had it not snowed the night before I would not be writing this, as my wife would have gone to work then on to her Christmas works dinner, so I now love snow, I'd had a bad chest infection which I had antibiotics for but didn't appear to be working and by late afternoon my wife became very worried so tried calling an out of hour doctor to no avail which was lucky again, so my daughter told her to call an ambulance, which had a fast response paramedic arrive within 10 mins very concerned as by blood oxygen was 76%, had blue lips and incoherent, the ambulance had arrived by then I vaguely remember them asking me if I could walk to the ambulance, I tried to get out of bed but couldn't move so had to be carried in a chair, the last thing I remember of leaving home was the sudden cold air outside and the sound of crunching ice under the wheels of the ambulance, I got through 4 bottles of oxygen on the 10 minute journey to hospital.
I remember going into A&E and seeing my wife, son & daughter-in-law brought through but after that everything was blank apart from the nightmares & hallucinations until 6th February 2011, my wife had kept a diary of that missing time, which was a terrifying time for my family, I had been taken straight to ITU and put in an isolation room as it was feared I may swine flu, they went home that first night not knowing the nightmare to come, when she came the following day to see me, I had tubes and wires everywhere, connected to a ventilator, dialysis machine & banks of all sort of monitors which was a total shock, on day 3 she was taken into a small room with my son & daughter-in-law and told I was very gravely ill and should my heart stop they would not revive me, she asked what my chance of survival was and told less than 10%, somehow I survived that night and the DNR was removed, the consultant told my wife there had been a "miracle" and I was stable enough to have a CT scan (which was the first of many) confirming I had double pneumonia, severe sepsis & multiple organ failure.
My wife spent Christmas day beside my bed not knowing if it would be my last, on 30th December she had a call to get to the hospital fast as things were not looking good, on arrival a nurse told her she was giving me a shave when I started biting on the ventilator tube and stopped breathing a mucus plug the size of a golf ball had broken away from my lung blocking my airway and the consultant was desperately trying to remove it when they phoned, again it was incredibly lucky for me.
I later contracted ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome or shock lung) my left lung became completely solid along with 2/3 of my right lung, the consultant telling my wife they would keep trying as long as they had a part of lung to work with, I spent 19 days on a ventilator before having a tracheotomy and spent about 6 weeks on dialysis, I was moved to HDU on 27th February still with my trachi which was removed on 11th March and then moved to a ward on 15th March my son's 25th birthday, I then spent a further 2 nightmare weeks on a ward before being discharged almost 4st lighter, a lung capacity of 54% and post ARDS pulmonary fibrosis so again I considered I was incredibly lucky.
Both my wife and myself suffered badly psychologically when I got home but luckily again my niece is an ICU nurse in the hospital I was in, she spoke to the consultant about the difficulties we were suffering and we were given an early follow up, the consultant was very understanding and arranged for psychological counseling for us, I had another follow up on my own 3 months later where the ICU nurse asked me if I would be prepared to speak to a patient who was feeling very down, I of course said yes knowing how difficult it can become, I visit him on several occasions but unfortunately he became very ill again and past away, making me realize how lucky I really was, it made me determined to do something to help others suffering so badly with little or no support.
I dragged my wife and niece into the idea of starting a support group for ex-ICU patients, we sold the idea to another nurse and set up our group in early 2012 meeting in a local pub as we had no money to hire a venue, we had about 8 people at our first meeting which grew to 16, later in 2012 we became part of ICUsteps even helping another local hospital set up a group, I also spoke at training days at the hospital and a local conference, my wife and myself also done the first ever talk to ICU staff which was very emotional as we knew them so well.
In 2013 I was very lucky to be invited to become a trustee of ICUsteps & to speak in front of 200 people at their first ever conference in Milton Keynes and in April this year both my wife and myself spoke at the ACPRC conference in Cheltenham, so I consider I really am the Lucky One.
Best wishes to everyone be it an ex-patient or relative on that long road to recovery.