By Liz Crudgington
A grandfather who spent five weeks in QEQM Hospital with COVID-19 is planning to renew his wedding vows – and hopes to invite medical staff to say thank you.
Ian Jameson was cared for at the hospital in Margate after first suffering flu-like symptoms in March. A week after he first became ill, his condition deteriorated and wife Gail dialled 999 – and within an hour of arriving at hospital he was in a coma in intensive care.
Now recovering at home, the 50 year old, from Hersden, near Canterbury, wants to renew his vows with wife Gail next year, and will invite the nurses and doctors who cared for him to help him celebrate.
Ian said: “I can’t fault any of them. The team in ITU saved my life. When you turn on the television there is so much doom and gloom and it’s awful to see so many people have lost their lives.
“But I survived and I wanted to let people know you can survive the coronavirus.
“The experience has made me think of things differently, and I feel differently about life. We’ve been married 23 years and I want to celebrate that and the fact that I am still alive, thanks to those very special people at the hospital.”
Ian, who runs a maintenance firm, was reunited with some of the team via Skype and was able to thank them personally for their care.
He said: “I still get tired very easily, and I still get breathless but I am here and that is all thanks to them.
“I remember being in the ambulance and the paramedics talking to each other, but when I got to the hospital and they said they were going to have to put me under it was a bit hard to take in.
“I called Gail and told her and I am sure she thought I was mucking around at first. But then the doctor came on the phone and explained it to her and it really hit home.
“I was definitely scared, and my family were so worried. I think there were a lot of tears in the family – you hear so many stories of people who go on ventilators and don’t come off them so they were frightened about what would happen.”
Ian was in a coma for two weeks to help his body recover, but suffered setbacks when his kidneys failed and he needed dialysis.
His wife kept in constant touch with medical staff, who also passed messages to Ian – even when he was asleep.
Gail said: “I would always ask them if he would be coming home, and they just couldn’t answer. One minute it felt like we were making progress, then there would be something else like his kidneys and we would go backwards again.
“It meant so much that they passed on my messages, so I was able to tell him I loved him every single day.”
Ian continued to make progress and was transferred to Quex ward before he was able to go home.
He said: “I can’t remember waking up, just bits and bobs like the nurses clearing my throat and changing my breathing tube.
“The staff from ITU came down to see me on the ward and would tell me I looked so much better, and it started to dawn on me how ill I had been.
“Being able to video call my wife was fantastic, and once I started talking to her every day it gave me a real boost and an incentive to hurry up and get better so I could go home and see her.”
The couple were reunited outside the hospital entrance and Gail made it an event to remember with banners to welcome Ian home.
She said: “It was so emotional to see him come out of those doors. When he went in the ambulance I didn’t expect him to be in a coma an hour later. If we had left it any later it could have been a very different ending.
“The ITU staff are absolutely amazing. No amount of money could ever thank them. They kept him alive and they put their lives at risk for other people.
“Doctors, nurses, cleaning staff, the ward clerk – they are all fantastic.”