At one point in his COVID-19 battle father-of-three Wayne Leek was given just a slim chance of survival. But last week he was able to go home to his family after spending time in an induced coma at Walsall Manor Hospital.
“I owe the staff in the Intensive Care Unit my life – there’s no doubt they’ve saved my life,” he said.
Wayne became ill with a cough at the beginning of April and struggled to get his breath.
“I’d never heard a noise like it,” said the 50-year-old.
“It was really affecting my breathing and after calling NHS 111 I was brought into hospital by ambulance. I was on Ward 29 and had to wear an oxygen mask but to be honest I was becoming more and more agitated and panicky because I was really struggling with the cough.”
Wayne was transferred to ICU and was put into an induced coma . He not only tested positive for COVID-19 but also developed sepsis and pneumonia.
His partner Kerri Picken, who works at Pinfold Surgery, Bloxwich, could only receive updates over the phone as visiting was restricted and she describes this period as “awful, the worst time of our lives.”
She said: “He went into hospital on 7 April and within a couple of weeks I found myself planning his funeral because I didn’t think we’d see him again. I was trying to keep things going as best I could for our three girls but I was so upset and worried and everything was on my shoulders. I had to stop working because of all the strain.”
Kerri has praised staff for doing their best to keep her up to speed at this time.
“They told me to call any time I wanted and encouraged me to ask questions even though I was really worried I was stopping them being with other patients,” she said. “When they got in touch to say they were bringing him out of the coma I just couldn’t believe it – you start to have hope once more.”
For Wayne being out of his coma and focusing on making it to a ward gave him tremendous motivation. Xana Marriott, Senior Sister for Critical Care Rehabilitation arranged for him to go outside to see his family, working with Physiotherapy Team Leader Michelle Collins
“They helped me get motivated and really encouraged me to do what I could to help myself. I needed that push,” he said.
Wayne’s 12-year-old daughter Megan and twins Jessica and Danielle, four, visited him at a safe distance outside the hospital, with partner Kerri.
“I had felt so alone in hospital because of not being able to see my family but as soon as they said they’d try and arrange this I wanted it more than anything,” he said.
“I was walking with a frame on Ward 17 and really wanted to walk all the way out of the ward to them but was too tired and needed a wheelchair in the end. It was amazing, absolutely amazing. To see my girls and my partner and for them to see me and to be in the fresh air again. My girls had probably been scared because they hadn’t seen me for so long but this made everything OK.”
Wayne was discharged from hospital on Monday 11 May and is now recovering at home.
“My next big push is to be able to walk outside on my crutches. Inside the house I shuffle along without them but I need to get stronger and know that I will with the help of the physio. I’ve never been so ill in my life and the virus has left me really weak but I’m so happy to be back at home which is all down to the staff at the hospital. I definitely owe them my life.”