As a paramedic for more than 20 years Lenny Brocklebank is used to saving lives. However, when coronavirus struck, the tables were turned, and he will now be forever grateful to his NHS colleagues at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn and the East of England Ambulance Service who stepped in to save his life.
The 62-year-old (pictured), who lives in Fakenham with his wife Carol, tells the journey of his fight against the killer virus at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, and the one terrifying night, after a roller coaster first week, when it looked like things may take a turn for the worst.
“It started with my wife and I self-isolating at home after suffering symptoms,” he said.
“Fortunately, like many people, my wife only had mild symptoms and recovered in a week, but I was not so lucky. After 10 days I was feeling very unwell and was breathless and dizzy. When a blood oxygen monitor showed my levels were low, I recognised it was time to call an ambulance. I remember it was colleagues from Hunstanton who came. They immediately boosted my blood oxygen levels and took me straight to hospital.
“Looking back now it can be hard to remember all the details of my 12-day stay in hospital, but it was an experience I will never forget, and makes me feel emotional trying to talk about it. I’ve always been grateful for all the fantastic care the QEH has given me, and my family, over the years but now I can’t thank the doctors, nurses and healthcare assistants enough.
“I arrived in hospital on 2 April, late afternoon. I was tested in the newly set up Covid Emergency Department and admitted to an isolation room for two days. I got the confirmation that I had tested positive for Covid-19, and pneumonia.
“Late one evening, after four days on high flow oxygen and IV medication, the consultant had a conversation with me. As a medic, plain speaking was something I was grateful for but it was a scary conversation.
“I was told that I was not responding to treatment, and if there was still no improvement when he returned in the morning, he would have to get his team together and consider moving me to the intensive care unit. I did not want to worry my wife with the potential consequences, so told her nothing.
“Thankfully, that night my fever broke, and knowing severe temperature is a large part of feeling unwell, I was grateful to bypass intensive care and was then transferred to Oxborough Ward where I continued to improve. While there I signed up to a clinical trial which I hope will allow me to give a little back and help others in the fight against Covid-19.
“After a total of 12 days, between three wards, I was well enough to be discharged home.”
Libby McManus, Chief Nurse at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn, said: “It is especially pleasing for staff across our hospital when patients who have been seriously ill are discharged. Mr Brocklebank is one of more than 390 COVID-19 positive patients who we have cared for and, thankfully, he is one of 200 who are now continuing their recoveries at home. I can only echo Mr Brocklebank’s praise for our staff and their bravey and compassion in often challenging circumstances. This is the standard of care we should deliver consistently to all our patients.”
Almost a month after getting home, Mr Brocklebank believes he is 90% recovered.
“My first walk, just 500 yards to the bus stop and back, left me puffing like a train, but I’m now starting to get my stamina back.
“I have so many people to thank; the healthcare assistants who were attentive, patient and caring and the ward staff, who despite doing very long shifts all presented professionally with smiles on their faces, when I am sure, they were exhausted. The remarkable QEH team’s dedication, devotion, professionalism and attitude to the profession should be screamed from the rooftops and celebrated. I can’t thank them enough for saving my life.”