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Covid survivor's plea to stay safe

Julia Brockway

A mum who spent 45 days on a ventilator with Covid-19 has made an emotional plea to others to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.

Julia Brockway is still suffering the physical and mental effects four months after returning home from Morriston Hospital.

Above: a still from Julia’s emotional video message urging people to stay safe

During her time in an induced coma in the hospital’s intensive care unit, Julia lost almost four stone in weight and needed a massive blood transfusion because of the virus.

And with cases on the rise, she has a stark message for anyone who doesn’t do everything they can to avoid becoming infected.

“I was unlucky. Covid-19 was not pleasant to me. It may not be pleasant to you. Please – follow the guidelines. Stay safe.

“It may not be you but it may be a loved one that has what I’ve had and has to go through what I’ve gone through.

“Covid is a dangerous and vicious disease. You don’t know what it can do to you.

“I’ve seen the stress that the doctors and nurses are under, and the worry on their faces whenever another patient comes in.”

The 50-year-old, who lives with her family in the Neath Valley, was in hospital with double pneumonia at the start of the year.

Then, towards the end of March, she started feeling extremely unwell.

Although she went to Morriston’s Emergency Department at the urging of her son, she thought it was another chest infection.

That was at the start of the pandemic and Julia recalls all the staff wearing protective gowns and masks.

“It was frightening. I remember having a blood test and a chest X-ray. I remember them coming in and saying, ‘You’re not very well, Julia, we’re going to have to admit you’.

“I can’t remember much after that, whether it was hours, days, weeks. I remember waking up slightly. A doctor, a nurse.

“A team of five in a lift going into intensive care, telling my family I had tested positive for a vicious disease called Covid-19.

“That was the last I remember.

“I woke up with breathing apparatus in my neck, not being able to speak, wondering what had happened to me.

“A team of specialists had to explain that I had been ventilated for 45 days. I’d had a tracheotomy. There were tubes going into my neck.

“The worst part was, because you have a tracheotomy, they have to open the tube and use suction to remove any debris.

“That’s every half hour and you’re fully awake with it going into your throat.

“Covid starts out as a virus but it can take your speech, your ability to walk and your ability to eat.”

In late May she returned home to her family – husband David, 18-year-old son, also named David and 13-year-old daughter Chloe. They all tested negative for the virus when Julia became ill.

David and Julia Brockway As well as being put on a rehabilitation programme after leaving intensive care, Julia is now receiving physiotherapy at home.

She couldn’t walk at all after waking from the coma and has difficulty now, while her upper body strength has been badly affected.

As well as being on medication she is receiving counselling because of problems sleeping.

Pictured left: Julia with husband David

Julia has nothing but praise for the consultants, doctors and nurses who looked after her 24-7 while she was in intensive care, and those on the ward she was eventually moved to.

And she urged people to do everything they could to avoid the same traumatic ordeal she has been through.

 “Having Covid isn’t a laugh. It can be serious. Please listen to the government health warnings.

“Please stay safe. Wear a mask. Social distance. Don’t have parties. I don’t mean not to socialise with family or enjoy life but please be careful.

“Think of what I went through and how it affected my family. Think of your own family, think of your loved ones.

“And think of the NHS staff and all the care workers out there that are looking after us and putting their lives on the line for us.”

 

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