One Year On from the ICU

Its been one year since I started my recovery from an attack of Weil's Disease which very nearly killed me, and put me in ICU for 5 weeks. It has been a much longer process than I thought and planned, and my determination to get back to work and put things back to normal has been thwarted by occasional bouts of depression, and a real struggle to get near to the fitness level I enjoyed before my illness.

But on 30 Sep I completed the Bristol Half Marathon with my daughter, who had promised me she would run with me when I got better in the very dark days in ICU when life was in the balance - not that I remember this exchange! We have raised quite a lot in sponsorship for Salisbury Hospital into the bargain - it's not much in comparison to the gift they gave me, but I will never be able to repay that.

The moment we crossed the finish line was another major moment of closure, putting what happened behind me. Plainly I never want to go through a serious illness again, but on reflection I think I am better person for the experience. I count myself lucky to have survived, raher than unlucky to have got the disease inthe first place. I have a different perspective on life, a much better appreciation of the NHS and those that work in it, and I understand what it is really like to be really ill and can empathise better with those much less fortunate than me.

With that run I feel my recovery is pretty much complete. It has been a long process, and I would say setting challenging but achievable goals was an important element.

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  • Hi Mike. One of the surprising things about the whole ICU experience is realising you're not alone. I can appreciate so many of the things you mention - the surprise at the length of time to recover, the appreciation of things that matter in life with the new perspective you gain after such severe illness, the depression and of course the immense gratitude. Congratulations on reaching your goal.

  • Hi Mike, it's great to hear you are reaching your goal, Like you I was seriously ill, with double pneumonia, sepsis and multiple organ failure and my wife was told (2 day before Christmas 2010) I had a less than 10% chance of survival.

    I spent 88 days in ICU the first 7 weeks I have no memory of, in that time I had ARDS, a mucus plug the size of a golf ball that blocked my airways causing 2 cardiac arrests and a lot of heartache for my family.

    The staff in ICU at The Conquest Hospital in Hastings were amazing they never gave up hope in saving my life and will always be very special people to me.

    The first few months after leaving hospital were very hard I was depressed, unable to walk very far and I have to admit not a very nice person to be around,

    It's now 18 months on and my life has changed completely I am unfortunately left with PF (damage to my lungs) which means I've had to give up the job I loved which was a carpenter/joiner, because of the dust, but this has lead to me getting involved in a local ICU support group helping others come to terms with the trauma a stay in ICU can bring.

    I feel my experience has made me a better person and realise how precious life is and how helping others can be so rewarding.

    There is light at the end of the tunnel, it just takes time to get there. :-)

  • I too am one year on from multiple organ failure in childbirth and have finally started to feel normal again now I can exercise and get back to work slowly. I have recently applied to volunteer on the ICU I found myself initially in now I feel I am over the worst of the PTSD and depression. Wow, what a ride being so close to death but what doesn't kill you.. I too am in a support group and giving back what I can now I can no longer give blood due to 13 transfusions. My partner took video and photo footage of my stay and I have had a diary compiled by staff - this with being able to exercise once more and anti-d Sertraline has helped my recovery which has only just accelerated. Good luck to you all out there, the psychological recovery can be as hard as the physical one but time is a great healer.

  • Hi Kulta. Thanks for your comments, and it is good to hear you are recovering and putting something back into the system that helped us both. I concur on the blood donor piece. Ironically when I got round to sorting out my emails after 2 and a half months absence there was one fromthe blood transfusion service asking me to come in and donate as they were running low on my type. It was quite amusing phoning them up to say that was probably because they had been putting it all back in me. Sadly no more donating from me, but it is good to know that I managed to give for 30 years and then get something back from it. I am persuading my children to do their bit now!

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