Desmond Solomon, 62, is one of our latest patients recover from Covid-19 and place a bee on the ‘Tree of Life’ at Queen’s Hospital. What makes this even more special is that the normally fit and healthy father-of-two has spent the last two months in hospital with two weeks spent in intensive care.
Paramedics initially thought he had suffered a stroke when he was admitted to our hospital. Their two children - Emma (22) and Daniel (26) - plus wife Andrea (55) are extremely grateful for the care he has received. They are delighted to see Desmond continuing his road to recovery at Northwick Park Regional Hyper-acute Rehabilitation Unit (RHRU).
“Desmond is such a fit, bright and animated man,” said Andrea. “I never thought coronavirus would hit him and affect him in the way it did. When he first fell ill, no-one suspected coronavirus. The only typical Covid symptom he had was a high temperature. Everything else appeared to indicate that he was suffering from a stroke, which is why the paramedics brought him to Queen’s Hospital rather than to our local hospital, Whipps Cross.
“He was moved to the High Dependency Unit (HDU), but his condition deteriorated and he was moved to ICU where he spent 11 days on a ventilator. Even after he was moved back to the HDU, there was no respite. It was extremely hard to hear that if he did not improve there was nothing more that could be done.
“The worst part was not being able to see him and knowing he was on this journey alone.
“Then on 14 April we heard that he was moving out of the HDU, back onto a normal ward. Finally we could hope. I have to say all of the hospital staff were fantastic, especially the nurses on the Bluebell A ward. They went above and beyond for our family. Everyone was so caring, supportive and so optimistic. I could always speak to the nurse in charge and one time when my daughter was extremely anxious the nurse took the time to speak to her at length to reassure her. I will never forget that and neither will my daughter.
“The staff helped us to keep in touch with Desmond every day. We used Facetime or video calls or spoke on the phone. So when we had the chance to do something for the staff we jumped at the chance. My daughter got in touch with one of our local Indian restaurants (Ajanta in South Woodford) who wanted to help NHS staff tackling Covid-19. As a result we were able to get 20 free meals delivered to everyone on the ward. I also ordered personalised cupcakes from ‘It’s all about the cake’ as a small way to say thank you.
“The thing I appreciate most is the effort staff made to provide daily updates. Anyone with a loved one in hospital will know that when the phone goes your heart jumps as you don’t know what to expect. The doctors were absolutely fantastic, as soon as I picked up the phone they would start the call to reassure me by saying don’t worry Des is fine. It is such a small thing, but so important because the doctors recognise that families like ours will be feeling anxious at this time.
“In fact all of the staff were fantastic throughout – people at the reception desk and on security were lovely and friendly. They made time to talk to us and we got to know them well.
“The journey for our family has been very hard. The hardest thing is not being able to see your loved one; I cannot describe how that feels. My daughter and I have shared a lot of tears along the way. Nothing can really prepare you for the experience because this virus is so unpredictable.
“I’ll never forget the feeling though of joy and relief when we finally got the news we wanted – that he was going to be discharged. The day that he was clapped out by the staff was amazing and I love the concept of putting a bee on the Tree of Life – such a lovely idea.
“Desmond is now on the road to recovery. Once he leaves Northwick Park Rehab Unit, I think he will be looking forward to seeing us and our friends and experiencing my cooking again. Beyond that it will be being able to socialise, take up DIY again and returning to the gym. Just normal everyday things that we take for granted. We cannot wait for that day to arrive.
“Our family have been through such a tough and uncertain time, but thanks to the amazing team who looked after him at Queens Hospital, he has made it. We are truly one of the lucky ones.”