Nigel & Wendy Cole Thank the NHS 5 May 2020
Nigel and Wendy Cole are both recovering from coronavirus at home after being in intensive care and feeling lucky to have made it. They feature on the Broomfield Hospital website (with an old photo of them in full health) and Nigel says they were asked for their story because it is very unusual for a husband and wife to be in hospital with the virus at the same time, and for both to recover having been on life support. Also, they know that we and the staff at Broomfield all need to hear about the success stories as well as about the numbers of deaths. Now, five weeks on, he still runs out of energy doing very little – the doctors have told him it will take six months to get back to full strength. But he says, if their story ‘gives hope to one person who is suffering then it will have achieved its purpose’. They look forward to seeing us all again when this horrible period comes to an end – absolutely, roll on that day!
Husband and wife who survived COVID-19 thank “phenomenal” staff
Husband and wife Nigel and Wendy Cole have paid tribute to Broomfield staff after both recovered from COVID-19 after treatment in intensive care.
Nigel, a 68-year-old retired structural engineer, was the first to fall ill.
After a week of self-isolating with what he thought was flu, Nigel called 111 who recommended he go to hospital.
He later spent 36 hours on a ventilator in ICU.
But as Nigel’s health began to stabilise, his wife Wendy – a former England international sheepdog trainer – developed coronavirus symptoms and was brought to Broomfield by ambulance after her daughters contacted a doctor friend.
Wendy’s condition deteriorated rapidly and she spent nine days on ventilation. Their youngest daughter Katie said that at one point she “expected to lose one if not both of them”.
Nigel, a keen sailor with no underlying health conditions, was surprised when he couldn’t shake off a flu-like illness.
“Although we’re both 68, we’re a very fit 68. I couldn’t believe it when I didn’t get better of my own accord.
“I was taken to a hospital on Saturday afternoon and I actually don’t remember too much, apart from a doctor telling me that I was going to be put on a ventilator and what the chances were of survival.
“The next thing I remember is being transferred out of ICU to Frailty ward. Just like in ICU, the care was excellent and the nurses were wonderful.
“Of course by then Wendy had come in, on the same day I was put on the ventilator.”
Wendy had felt poorly for the previous week and after feeling short of breath and losing the colour in her fingers, her daughters intervened.
“Once Nigel went into hospital I started to feel a fair bit worse. I called 111 but they said I wasn’t bad enough to go in (to hospital). My daughter then got on the phone to a doctor she knows and he told her to call 999.
“I remember being wheeled down to ICU where I was put on a ventilator but I don’t remember any more. I was on the ventilator for nine days.
“I don’t know how my daughters coped with it – it was absolutely horrendous for them.”
Wendy said that her and Nigel consider themselves “so lucky” to have recovered and thanked the team at Broomfield.
“The care at Broomfield was absolutely phenomenal. The staff were all wonderful. It was fantastic nursing. It was a little bit touch and go when I got to eight days (in ICU) but what they did for me worked.
“On Easter Sunday I was moved down to Frailty where the care was incredible. I was then moved to Gosfield and I came home the following Saturday.”
Nigel had been home for ten days by the time Wendy was discharged, and the couple were grateful to have the support of their daughters Katie and Jo who’d filled the freezer with homemade meals in their absence.
As they work to regain their strength, Nigel said he and Wendy have one remaining wish:
“It’s wonderful to be home but we’re still longing for the day where we can give our daughters a hug.”
Written 1st May 2020.