A Walsall COVID-19 patient who came close to death has urged others to have the vaccine to protect themselves.
James, 38, is speaking out about his experience as a warning to others. He has asked us not to use his surname.
He was in a coma for 12 days and says he was actually brought back to life during a month-long stay in hospital.
A regular gym user, the 6ft 2ins trainee HGV lorry driver suffered headaches, loss of appetite and light-headedness before recording a positive lateral flow test.
James believes he caught the virus on a night out in Birmingham.
“I was sweating and I couldn’t stand up properly,” said James. “As I was going home my throat was tight and I was struggling to breathe, so I called 999.”
Back at hospital, James was tested again and it came back positive, but with a long wait for admission, he decided to go home and return the next morning.
Two more trips to A&E followed after James suffered hallucinations. He was still feeling unwell and light-headed, and the second time, he passed out.
“I was having nightmares, and the next thing I knew, I was in ICU,” added James. “They told me I had a lack of oxygen to the brain and at one stage I was told I had died and they had to resuscitate me.”
James was placed in an induced coma for 12 days and spent over a month in hospital before eventually getting on the road to recovery. But then he was dealt another COVID-related blow.
“A doctor said ‘Can you walk?’ So I tried but I collapsed like a new-born donkey,” he recalled. “I really struggled to talk too because I was so out of breath.”
As a fit, strong and healthy young man, the former mortgage reviewer for Lloyds Bank was shocked to have been so poorly.
But after 33 days in hospital, he has become so weak that he now needs carers to support his everyday needs.
Reflecting on being so scared at what happened to him, he had no hesitation in coming to Walsall Manor Hospital to have the vaccine, after also being encouraged to do so by family members.
“I am fit, healthy and as fit as a fiddle and I caught COVID-19 with no underlying health problems whatsoever,” he said.
“Having COVID-19 is no joke and it’s not going anywhere. The reason I had the vaccine was to lessen my anxiety because I’ve just been in ICU and I really don’t want to go in hospital again.
“Anyone who doesn’t have the vaccine is an idiot. Having some help to protect you is better than having no help – if you just rely on your body to fight it, it’s not enough.”
James now encourages friends to follow suit. “Some of my mates who know my situation now take it more seriously and have now been vaccinated,” he added.
“I text them saying ‘make sure you do’. I was lucky – I came out of it the other side. Normally I am someone who thinks they can just sleep these things off but I am a transformed person and I’m glad I listened to my family.
“As someone from the Afro Caribbean community I would urge everyone to forget any stubbornness about it because that won’t keep you alive.”