Discharge 'only start of of recovery' says long Covid-19 Royal Papworth patient
- Credit: Royal Papworth Hospital
A father-of-three who was seriously ill with coronavirus has spoken of his gratitude to those who still care for him, one year after he was discharged from hospital.
Chikezie ‘Chik’ Knox-Macaulay spent two weeks in hospital, first at Hinchingbrooke in Huntingdon and then Royal Papworth in Cambridge, including five nights in critical care as he fought Covid-19 in April last year.
“Leaving hospital after having Covid-19 last April was a great moment, but it doesn’t mean you are cured,” Chik said.
“It’s actually only the start of the journey for a lot of people on a long, difficult road to recovery.”
Chik was discharged from Royal Papworth Hospital on April 19, 2020.
Twelve months on, the 50-year-old still battling the long-term effects of the disease – known as long Covid – but says receiving the vaccine and ongoing support from the NHS is helping him improve each week.
Chik, a former rugby league player, has maintained a good level of fitness which he believes was key to surviving the disease.
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“I was very scared I’d die,” he admitted.
“I’m a fit person, an ex-rugby league player who worked demanding 12-hour shifts on my feet.
“Ultimately, that may have been my saving grace, plus the extraordinary efforts of the staff who cared for me with every ounce of energy they had.
“I’m so grateful to be alive and be one of the survivors, especially when a close family member – Dr Alfa Saadu - died just before I went to hospital, but it has been a tough year dealing with long Covid.”
Chik has regularly returned to Royal Papworth Hospital as part of the hospital’s follow-up clinics, where patients who were hospitalised with Covid-19 undergo scans, exercise tests and blood tests.
He also has an appointment with a consultant to monitor their ongoing recovery from the disease, and has signed up to NHS research studies including the PHOSP-COVID study.
The study is a consortium of leading researchers and clinicians from across the UK working to understand and improve long-term health outcomes for patients who have been in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.
Dr Roger Hall, medical director at Royal Papworth Hospital, said: “As Covid-19 is a new disease, it will take some time to fully understand the long-term impacts it has on physical and mental health.
“Clinical trials like PHOSP-COVID and follow-up clinics like the one we hold at Royal Papworth Hospital will be vital to developing new treatments and helping patients get the care they need.”
One year on, Chik believes he is only back to ‘50 per cent’ of the fitness he was at before contracting the virus, but says both the vaccine and the ongoing support he is receiving is helping him to make positive steps on the road to recovery.
“I still get physically exhausted very quickly at basic tasks and am not back to work,” he said.
“Having the regular follow-up clinics at Royal Papworth is reassuring because I know I am being well-looked after and my long-term health is in good hands.”
From anxiety to depression, Chik has suffered during the second wave of coronavirus, which he believes his mental health is now on the mend following the national lockdowns.
By sharing his story, he thinks might be able to help other people who find themselves in a similar position to himself by raising awareness of the ongoing symptoms associated with long Covid.
“It’s actually been tougher for me mentally,” he said.
“I have gone through periods of initial anxiety when I was discharged, leading into depression during the second wave, but I’m now getting better in that regard.
“The support I’ve received for my mental health has been like gold dust in my convalescence.
“I’ve had the vaccine and honestly, since having that, I’ve noticed such a change in my mindset and anxiety levels.
“I would urge everyone to get the vaccine to protect themselves and others from serious illness.
Chik added: “I’m immensely grateful to the NHS for saving my life and can never thank them enough for allowing me to be spend precious time with my daughters.”