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They met, they mingled, the rest is history!

2024-02-14T14:18:05+00:00Wednesday 14 February 2024|

“He’s my best friend, my soulmate.

“She’s just so genuine and has a real aura around her.”

When Colin Osbourn and Sallyann Wilkinson started to attend the Meet and Mingle support and social group for patients who had spent time in Walsall Manor Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU), little did they know that it would lead to love.

Now, the pair are officially a couple, spent their first Christmas together and have even had the seal of approval from Colin’s cats as well as their families!

Both say they are “lucky to be alive” after their spells in critical care and have been left determined to make the most of what they both describe as “a second chance at life.”

Colin, 53, contracted COVID-19 in the second wave of the virus and was brought into hospital in January 2022. He spent three months in ICU and had a tracheostomy, spending eight months in hospital in total, including his rehabilitation.

Sallyann had septic shock due to kidney stones and developing Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) in June 2022, was ventilated on full life support for six days and was in hospital for three weeks. She came off the ventilator on her granddaughter Elsie’s first birthday.

She says her survival was described as “a miracle” and has vowed to help raise greater awareness of sepsis as she and her family weren’t aware of the symptoms of the life-threatening condition.

The pair were invited to the Meet and Mingle sessions run by Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust’s ICU Rehabilitation Team. The team has supported hundreds of patients who have had a period in critical care on their continuing recovery and cover both physical and psychological support. A virtual forum was established back in May 2021 for patients and staff alike to share their experiences and help enhance practice at the Trust and the face-to-face sessions started in December 2022.

Colin and Sallyann attended the first face to face session and Sallyann was late. When she arrived, the only seat left was next to Colin.

“There was definitely something about her the very first time I met her,” said Colin.  “After the Meet and Mingle ended I asked Xana (Xana Marriott, Senior Sister for ICU Rehabilitation) if I could have Sallyann’s number, but she refused point blank and said I’d have to see her at the next session.”

Colin was ill and had to miss the second session but made it along to the summer meeting where Sallyann, 52, was once again late!

 “I made straight for Colin to sit by him as I didn’t have a lot of confidence and remembered him as being friendly last time round,” she said. “It was a bingo session, and he was really making us all laugh with his banter, and I remember thinking what good company he was and how comfortable he made me feel.”

This time the pair exchanged Facebook messages and arranged to meet for a coffee.

“We got thrown out of the coffee shop because they were closing up – we’d spent three-and-a-half hours talking,” said Colin.

Sallyann, a mother-of-two and grandmother, said: “I had a barrier up – I didn’t want a relationship and Colin was just a very good friend who had been through the same nightmare as me. We both helped each other a lot.

“We took things slowly, but we just get along so well. We have ICU in common, of course, and my time in there was really scary. But Colin is my best friend, my soulmate. I love him and I’m pleased to have a new chapter of my life with him in it.

“Last December we shared how we felt about each other and on New Year’s Eve we told friends and family we were a couple. “

Colin remembers Sallyann as being a genuine person with an aura. “She was just such a nice woman,” he said.

Both have had a long battle back to health and are full of praise for the staff who cared for them on ICU as well as the ICU Rehabilitation Team.

Colin said: “I was in such a state – the ICU Rehabilitation Team are just amazing. They have basically put me back together physically and also mentally. COVID was a tough time for me as I also lost my bathroom business because of my illness and the support has been out of this world.

“I’m a big fan of the ICU Meet and Mingle especially though – as is Sallyann. It has changed both our lives for the better.”

Xana said: “We are so happy for Colin and Sallyann and the fact that our ICU Meet and Mingle brought them together is really special. Both were extremely ill and have been through so much so to hear their stories have such a happy ending is lovely.

“The team is wondering whether or not to buy a hat!”


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