Learning to breathe again: between life and death at the service of coronaviruses


Seventeen days in the hospital.

Eight of them on a fan.

The helpless shock of your body learning to breathe again.

“The best way to describe it is to imagine someone holding a cushion against your mouth and nose.

“Very occasionally it slips, giving you just enough breath to keep going. “

Paranoia, post-traumatic stress disorder and “horrible and false” hallucinations, some of which are violent.

Patients die six feet apart.

A Covid-19 survivor who fought and won shared in personal and graphic detail what it is like to fight the virus by revealing a daily diary of his experience that he wrote to assist in his recovery after returning to the House.

Peter Julian is 54 years old.

He said he wanted to share his story with the Manchester Evening News do not shock or scare.

“I want people to understand what it is,” he said.

Wythenshawe Hospital

Peter is a non-smoker, has no pre-existing medical conditions, and said he has had only three days of sick leave in the past decade.

He admits a little “middle-aged spread”, but exercises at home everyday and rides 30 miles a week.

But Covid-19, he said, does not respect anyone and any circumstances.

The day the UK was taken into custody, the father of three, a business consultant, Peter woke up at his home in Sale, Trafford, with some aches and pains.

Seven days later, he could not even breathe to speak and was rushed to an intensive care unit at Wythenshawe hospital.

What followed more than a fortnight is detailed in his entries.

Peter spoke of “rows of people two feet apart, all going through the same terror.”

Post-traumatic stress disorder, he said, was common for any patient leaving intensive care.

But Peter returned home on Saturday.

In a moving gesture, the neighbors left their homes to cheer and cheer as the car drove into the driveway. Messages written in chalk on the sidewalks and signs on the windows proclaimed “welcome to Pete’s house”.

“Having barely survived Covid-19, I just wanted to write my own personal experience,” he said.

The neighbors welcomed his return

“I would like you to share as many things as you want, with as many people as you want.

“My main message is that the news 24 hours a day from Covid, and even government and NHS websites, is at best very general information and could be misleading.

“You can conclude that you are not at risk or that you are at high risk. Neither is likely to be true.

“I would be lying to you if I didn’t say there were a number of times I just wanted to give up and join my father.

“The thought was inviting and almost comforting. However, I knew I had a legion on my side that I was not going to give up on.

“Our NHS are truly the heroes.

“They kept me and thousands of others alive, while enduring huge trauma in exchange for somewhere between £ 9.23 and £ 10.20 an hour and £ 13 an night.

ICU staff

“Their culture is just to do things stoically. Although brilliant and inspiring, it can go against them.

“It will last at least a year.

“Just when I was in the hospital, the doctors quickly learned the right cocktail of drugs to increase the probability of life.

“The longer they last, the more we will survive. “

Monday March 23 : Had aches and pains. Given the news, I went on the NHS Covid-19 checker. Based on the list, I had no symptoms, so I guessed at worst that it was another seasonal flu.

Tuesday March 24 : I planted potatoes and carrots in a plot. I felt very good.

Wednesday March 25 : I woke up with aches. Since I still had no symptoms, I assumed it was either seasonal flu, over-searching, or a combination of the two.

Friday March 27 : It was a beautiful sunny day. I never sleep during the day, but I fell asleep in the garden. So if nothing else, I later got the best tan in the intensive care unit.

Weekend of March 28 and 29 : I started to feel short of breath.

I double-checked my symptoms. Except for shortness of breath, I had no others. Stayed in bed assuming the flu.

Peter and his wife Carol

Monday March 30 : More and more concerned, so I called the paramedics. They came and took my vital signs. No swab kits – so they said I could have Covid-19 based on certain symptoms.

My profile, associated with the observations, allowed them to conclude that I was in the category two weeks / in bed / little paracetamol.

They said that I had none of the symptoms, again confirming what I thought I knew and, in any case, I did not meet the criteria of risk, age, etc.

Again, again confirming what I thought I knew.

Wednesday April 1 : Shortness of breath has increased.

Decided that if it continued the next morning, I would call 999 anyway.

Thursday April 2 : My wife, Carol, called an ambulance because I couldn’t speak due to shortness of breath. Had paracetamol before they arrived. My temperature was 39.1 ° C against 37.5 ° C.

My blood oxygen was really low. Transported to intensive care. I was put on a fan because my body could not survive without help. They brought me back at 9:00 am on the 7th, five days later, thinking they had won.

At 9:45 p.m. the same day, they put me back in place because my body could not exist without it. Even the intensive care was shocked.

What is interesting is that from the patient’s point of view, when medically it is the worst, personally, it was fine. I was out of it, so I didn’t know anything.

I could have been there one day or 10 years, alive or dead. I wouldn’t have known.

Peter pictured with his wife and daughter Millie at home

Friday April 10 : After nine days on the fan, I was removed. This is the first episode of difficult times.

So, while medically the good news is that your body can now breathe, with the help of massive oxygen levels, the experience is terrifying.

The best way to describe it is to imagine someone holding a cushion against your mouth and nose. Very occasionally, it slides, giving you just enough breath to continue.

In addition, a combination of drugs and Covid-19 bacteria means that everyone is hallucinating.

Finally remember that we are all locked out, so no visitors Just rows of people two feet apart, all going through the same terror.

Every day someone dies in front of you or has CPR. Ribs and sternums break all around you.

Saturday April 11 : Yippee! Moved from intensive care to a general service specific to Covid-19. Breathing and hallucinations continued for everyone – but this is really the beginning of what I remember.

A note of caution. In your mind, the hallucinations are absolutely real, so from now on, whatever I say may or may not be true. When I have verified the facts, I mark it as true.

Otherwise, it could be one or the other.

The sidewalk in front of his house

Another key point is that everyone suffers from some form of PTSD associated with Covid. It is a well-established fact that anyone who has been in intensive care for any reason reacts to the result.

Paranoia and active hallucination are among them. How it is expressed will vary among individuals. Some people just make bad decisions, some have pleasant and mild hallucinations and others have terrifying active ones, where people come to torture and kill you.

The cause of hallucinations is trauma. But it can also be the ongoing fight against bacteria, medicines that are not yet balanced enough for you, or something as simple as a water infection or constipation.

The benigns I have had are as follows.

I took a cruise around the South China Sea, spent one night at Lagos airport, spent one night in an aquarium. There were Christmas lights on the bed and fireworks every night.

It’s something that has touched all of our lives.

From cradle to grave, the National Health Service is part of British life.

Today, more than ever, we must cherish those dedicated to our care as they work tirelessly to care for people in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

So let’s show them some love and create a living card of gratitude from all over Britain.

Click HERE to place a heart on the map and show that you appreciate the daily efforts in the NHS.

I also told all the Millie staff [Peter’s daughter] and Carol were in Finland. Obviously, I couldn’t tell them about Millie’s date with Romeo Beckham, because I signed the confidentiality agreement.

I would have bet you had five years of salary, that was true.

But wherever I go in the world, the staff seemed strangely the same and spoke with Manc accents. Who knew?

The horrible fakes I had were that people came to kill me. There was also a wolf in the room, a giant and men with machetes who all came to harm me immediately.

All I knew was that I was going to attack first and not be in the back.

My only problem was that I was still taking oxygen, that I couldn’t walk at all, that I couldn’t speak, that I was on a drip of fluids and food and on a catheter, which makes my skills less than their previous “wet paper bag”.

Wednesday April 15 : First the first steps and the first day I can speak. Maybe four steps passed?

The horrible hallucinations get worse.

I know what to do. Yes, proactively kill any man, other than my patient comrades, whom I meet before killing myself. Ladies. You will be happy to know that you were all on the death list.

Experts work on vaccine

Thursday April 16. 8.45 a.m. : Go physically attack as many men as possible, armed with plastic cutlery despite their inability to walk. Security is called. I explain to the three strong and experienced guys in their thirties that I’m going to kill them all.

You could say that I was safely held in about 30 seconds.

My boyfriend wakes up. He said that even if my implementation was poor, no one could take away my ambition!

In reality, I felt awful.

The “all hands at the pump” approach in the NHS meant that some nurses knew what they saw as PTSD and some just thought they had a madman on their hands.

Carol called around 9:00 am to ask what type of night I had. Suffice it to say that the answer was not really what she wanted.

I was not feeling well. I know what these employees are going through and I really felt bad for adding to their workload and worries. The guilt was overwhelming.

My son Tom is a young doctor working at Covid-19 in Sheffield. He had just finished a 12-hour night shift.

He called to check on my night.

Again, that was not the answer he wanted, but he did a great job of exposing me and suggesting that maybe rather than killing all the doctors, I might find that they were there to help me.

Friday April 17 : Play with drugs, liquids, etc. and move.

First night of non-horrible hallucinations. Also, on solid foods.

Saturday April 18 : Released at home – hoorah!

I count about four to nine months to deal with the physical effects – the body muscle loads are gone and about the first 8 lbs of weight. Then there is loss of trauma.

I think I saw someone die or undergo CPR daily and less than six feet from me. This will take time to process.

They count daily in an intensive care unit, it will be about a week of recovery afterwards.

Peter spoke to commend the “sheer compassion and professionalism” of all NHS staff, including those who have already served their sentence but who courageously returned to the front line during the pandemic.

He said having a belief system helped him get through.

A billboard inviting the public to stay at home

“I also thought I had a lot to live on – my family,” he said.

“Lots of people are sitting there, institutionalized and waiting for decisions to be made. I maintained my own responsibility for my own results and challenged where necessary.

“It was important because you have to remember that the only people used to treating Covid’s symptoms are the intensive care staff.

“Most of the other doctors and experienced staff did not fully understand the trauma.

“The origin of Covid is immaterial. You might have it and have no symptoms.

“You could have the exact same dose and be sick at home for a week or two, or you could, like me, discover that you have respiratory DNA wiring, which at best means that you will be in intensive care and that you probably won’t. .

“In my small group, we estimate that five out of six people hospitalized have died.

“From what I saw, there was no correlation between age and gender and the death rate.

“The guy in front of me was 41 years old with a four year old girl.

“Do what you can. If you smoke – quit.

“If you are fat, lose weight. Socially at a distance.

“Get a little more fit. Have a positive mental attitude. It’s not just the flu, and it won’t kill everyone.

“If you know someone at the ICU – try not to worry. Do not underestimate the little support you can do for them. “


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