Her 21st birthday is just around the corner but Covid survivor and young mum Ellie Wright was given the best early present ever today – she was able to go home!
Ellie left Walsall Manor Hospital last month to continue her recovery with the Walsall Community Stroke Service at Hollybank House in Willenhall. Here she has been receiving daily physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy as part of her rehabilitation and she is now able to walk a few steps using a stick, get up and down stairs and has been doing lots of exercises for her upper body strength too.
She has been able to see her baby son Leo every day which has really boosted her mood and helped her feel better. He is now 12 weeks old and weighing 10 pounds, after being born prematurely weighing just 4 pounds and 4 ounces.
Leo was delivered 10 weeks early on 12 January when Ellie was 30 weeks pregnant as his mum needed life-saving treatment after contracting Covid-19. He was cared for in the Neonatal Unit at Walsall Manor Hospital and had to go on a ventilator for 24 hours.
Meanwhile Ellie was fighting for her life and had never even touched her baby until critical care staff and neonatal staff worked together to arrange for his incubator to be brought into the Critical Care Unit in February. Ellie was only able to reach out and touch him as she was still very weak.
Then on 11 March Ellie was able to hold her baby son for the first time, supported by Xana Marriott, Senior Sister for Critical Care Rehabilitation, and Hazel Brookes, Specialist Midwife for Infant Feeding
Ellie has been looking forward to being back home with mum Michelle, dad Mark and her brother Kai and sister Chloe. And she has missed her husky dog Luna and mum’s pork curry.
“Every time I’ve had facetime chats with the family Luna has just looked out the window so I can’t wait to see her again,” she said. “And I really want to be back with my brother and sister. It’s been so hard and upsetting not being able to see them.
“I don’t remember anything about being so ill because I was in a coma for three weeks but my mum saved my life because she was the one who called an ambulance and said I needed to go to hospital; I didn’t want to go to hospital at all,” said Ellie. “I also know that my poor mum’s really been worried for so long about me and Leo so I hope she will feel better herself now.
“There was a point when I remember having an hallucination where I saw a bright light and my nan, who died ten years ago, appeared, really clearly, and told me “It’s not your turn.” I know now how serious things were and that I came really close to dying.
“I also remember Amanda in critical care as she would wash and dress me and was lovely. She reminded me of my mum. I felt nervous about leaving critical care to go on a ward because I didn’t know the staff but they were all friendly and when I came to Hollybank House I knew this was the right place to be to carry on getting stronger.”
Ellie has been able to venture outside in the sunshine during her rehabilitation and that has made her feel better, although she admits that she will still need to take things slowly once at home to get her confidence back.
“I feel a bit scared about going out to start with but it will be nice to sit in the garden with my friends. I’ve been able to talk to them over the last few weeks and that has been great. My best friend had sent me 100 messages while I was so ill! It will be good to get into my own routine with Leo as well – mum has left his pushchair for me to work out how to put up and I want to build up to taking him for a walk.
“My physio has been hard at times and I’ve been in pain. It has been like learning how to do things for the first time but I have also been pushing myself and I think I’ve surprised the staff sometimes because I have been determined. “
Mum Michelle Stankevitch said it had been a difficult time for the family.
“When Ellie talks about the hallucination of seeing her nan – my mum Margaret – I had actually driven to my mum’s grave and said: “Send her back to me” because things were so serious,” said Michelle.
“But I’ve got to be honest and say she’s giving her orders again and being bossy so she is definitely getting back to her old self! We will always be grateful to every single member of staff from the hospital and Hollybank House for what they’ve done for our family.”
Chloe Williams, Specialist Physiotherapist and Stroke Rehabilitation, waved Ellie off this morning as she went home, and said: “It was really emotional when Ellie took her first steps.
“It really brings it home to you just how far she has come after being so seriously ill. She has got so much life in front of her to lead and we have been working with her so she can achieve what’s most important to her.
“It has been lovely to see her flourish and to see her personality come through. We have had some very honest conversations because that is what she’s wanted and she knows there’s still some way to go but she has a lovely baby who needs her and a supportive family and friends who are all willing her on. “
Lianne Sealey, Team Lead for Walsall Community Stroke Service , said: “Ellie has made fantastic progress and all who have been involved in her care and recovery – both in the hospital and in the team here at Hollybank House – feel immensely proud of what she has been able to achieve.
“She has been one of our youngest patients here for rehabilitation but she has thrived and is so happy to be going home now. Her recovery highlights the vital role that rehabilitation and therapists play in helping people to get their lives back on track after such significant health issues. We wish Ellie and her family all the best for the future.”