By Liz Crudgington
A singer and entertainer from Birchington has thanked staff for their care after East Kent Hospitals reached a milestone this month of successfully treating 3,500 people for coronavirus.
David Underwood, who is part of six-piece band Helluvaday, and a popular member of amateur dramatics group MOS, is recovering at home after being cared for by teams at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.
The grandad of three, who is 73, described the nurses on Deal ward as angels, and said he would never forget their kindness and dedication.
He said: “They were absolutely superb. They are all angels, and so caring. I can’t tell you how blessed I was to be cared for on Deal ward – they were simply outstanding.”
David, who worked on cruise ships before he retired, first became ill with Covid-19 in December. When his condition deteriorated he was admitted to hospital.
He recovered enough to be discharged, but in early January suffered chest pains and difficulty breathing and was taken back to the QEQM.
He said: “When I went back in I thought that was it. You look around the ward, and everyone is just trying to get their breath.
“It is the scariest, scariest thing I have ever had in my life – and I have had prostate cancer and a few other things but battled through.
“I wasn’t scared of the hospital, but I was scared of this virus. You can’t see it and nor can anyone else but it is there. I can’t tell you how scared I was. Most of us thought we were going to die.”
A scan revealed David had developed blood clots which were causing his pain, and he needed oxygen to help with his breathing.
He said: “When I was less breathless I could see what was going on and how hard the staff were working.They were doing their jobs but they went above and beyond with such kindness and understanding.
“They worked through breaks to make sure patients who needed help were able to eat their meals. Everyone – nurses, doctors, housekeepers, admin staff – was working so hard and was just so caring to patients and their families.”
David was discharged home earlier this month and continues to improve, although progress is slow.
He said: “It is going to be a long road. I am trying to do my exercises but just walking down the street is difficult at the moment. I am so thankful they have cured me and I am getting better every day.
“But I will never forget the experience of being looked after in Deal ward. They have gone through hell with the pandemic but they keep going and they keep doing all they can to help other people.”
David also had a message for people who continue to ignore Government guidance and legislation about meeting up, wearing masks and taking other precautions.
He said: “I feel sick inside when I see people going about as normal and doing whatever they want. They just don’t realise the danger.
“They should forget about fines and get those people to spend an hour in the wards – then they wouldn’t do it.
“There were strong people in there, people in their 50s. One looked like a rugby player, so strong. He was scared. It will hit anybody.”
But he also had a message of hope for others who may be worried about loved ones newly diagnosed with the virus.
He said: “On television you see so many deaths and so many new cases. You never hear about the people who have been cured and that is a shame because when people go to hospital you only think that is it, and that is what I thought.
“Now I am home, and every day it is a bit better. I am very weak but I guess that will get a bit better each day. People can and do recover, thanks to the amazing staff like the angels on Deal ward.”