Covid-19 survivor: ‘Doctors said my son saved my life’

Julia Brockway
Image caption Julia said she had set herself little goals, such as going to the bathroom

A mother-of-two who spent 45 days on a ventilator after contracting coronavirus has said her son saved her life by making her go to hospital.

Julia Brockway, 50, from Glynneath, Neath Port Talbot, thought she had a chest infection when she became ill and just planned to rest on the sofa.

But her son David, 18, ordered her go to Morriston Hospital where she spent over two months in intensive care.

Julia said: “Doctors told me he saved my life”.

Julia, who lost four stone (25kg) and who still struggles to walk and eat, begged people to follow social distancing and lockdown rules.

“When I see the crowds and the partying, it makes me feel horrified for them because they think it’s funny and it’s not, it’s a horrible disease,” she said.

Image copyright Julia Brockway
Image caption Julia’s husband was told doctors would not be able to resuscitate his wife as she was too weak

Julia became ill and, after her son insisted she go, she was admitted to hospital in Swansea on 27 March, before being taken to intensive care.

With her family not allowed to visit, doctors warned her husband David in an emotional phone call that she had less than a 10% chance of survival.

She was placed on a ventilator for 45 days – and still remembers the moment she came round with all the medics around her.

“You can’t move your arms, you can’t move your body, all of your body is quite still and it’s horrific,” said Julia, mother to Chloe, 13, and David, 18.

“They bring you around quietly with lovely little voices talking to you, saying ‘are you alright Julia? Everything’s OK, you’re with us’.

“Maybe I’m a survivor, but I have to put it down to the great team in intensive care; the doctors, the consultants and all the staff saved my life.”

Julia, who has suffered muscle wastage due to weeks of lying unconscious in a hospital bed, is now trying to regain her strength but needs help with daily tasks.

But she admits there were days after she was taken off the ventilator when she did not want to carry on.

“The doctors, the nurses and my family are the heroes,” she said.

“They kept me going when I wanted to give up, I didn’t want the pain in my legs. I wanted to eat and walk, I wanted to shower like normal people.

“They’re always pushing you to fight, to live, to survive.”

Image caption Julia is now back home with her family and is being helped with everyday tasks

Her husband David, a 51-year-old coach driver, said it was “unbelievable” she had survived.

“I couldn’t be prouder of her, the strength she’s found to come through this virus,” he said.

Now back at home, Julia has regular visits from physiotherapy technician Adam Fulham who also looked after her in the intensive therapy unit.

“Julia was very poorly, she lost a lot of muscle, but she’s come on massively. It brings a smile to everyone’s face to see how well she’s doing,” he said.

But he said for many Covid-19 patients the psychological impact of the virus could be even more difficult than their physical recovery.

“Sometimes there are a lot of tears, they just want to go home and get back to what they were doing, but starting to rebuild is a long process,” he said.

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Media captionCoronavirus: ‘I was locked in my body, I thought I’d die’

Julia said she could not wait to regain her strength and was planning a short break with her family once lockdown restrictions were eased.

But she urged people to wear masks, to avoid parties and to stick to social distancing rules.

“I’m not trying to frighten anyone. Please listen to the guidelines, you might think it won’t happen to you, but it happened to me, so what are the chances that it could happen to you?”

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