Imagine falling into a coma and waking up in a drastically changed world. Such is the case of a 69-year-old British man who woke up from a medically induced coma to find that the coronavirus pandemic had swept over the UK.
Brain Harvey, was put on the ventilator after being hospitalized with pneumonia and placed in an induced coma in March. However, he tested positive for the viral infection only after being put into the unconscious state. At the time, there were about 5,000 positive cases and nearly 230 fatalities in the UK.
"He didn't even know about coronavirus when he woke up. We had to explain to him that there was a virus out there, explain that everything was shut," said Faye Stapleton, Harvey's daughter.
The Long 'Sleep'
On 21 March, the sexagenarian from Headley Park, Bristol, was taken to the Bristol Royal Infirmary. A day later, he was placed in an induced coma, without being able to talk to his family one last time, the Metro News UK reported.
The grandfather-of-six was in an unconscious state for four weeks. It took him another week to be able to regain his responses. Stapleton said: "He was still on a ventilator when they tried to wake him up."
Waking Up In a New World
By the time Harvey woke up, the coronavirus pandemic had overrun the entire country. Currently, there are nearly 248,000 confirmed cases and about 39,000 casualties in the UK — a manifold increase since the time Harvey was admitted to the intensive care unit.
Stapleton said that when her father awoke, they had to bring him to speed about what had transpired while he was asleep. When he began communicating with his relatives over video calls, he received tearful responses, she said.
"He FaceTimed everyone and they were all crying. He asked why, and they said 'we thought your name would never be coming up on our phone contacts again'," she explained.
The 'Teflon Man'
Harvey, who is now recovering well, was dubbed the "Teflon Man" by the hospital staff — a name given to him due to his resilient fight against the disease.
"I don't think any of the [nurses] thought he was going to make it. The ICU nurse who saw him at the start said to him: 'You're made of strong stuff – you're like Teflon', " narrated Stapleton.
The Bristol resident is now undergoing physiotherapy to be able to walk again and regain his lost muscle mass. Confirming his swift recovery, his daughter added: "He's back on his phone, posting on Facebook pages. He's doing really well."
Toll On The Family
Having been married 50 years, the ordeal was the toughest on Harvey's wife. Talking about her mother's angst, Stapleton said: "Mum was begging doctors to let her in when we were told dad might not make it through the night. "
She added: "They'd never spent more than five nights apart. It feels like we have all been tortured through all this."
A Heartfelt Contribution
According to Stapleton, the nurses tending to her father had suggested that he "FaceTime" with family and friends in order to reacquaint himself with familiar voices. "We contacted him every day – and it kind of gave me the thought to raise money. Luckily he had taken his phone but what about other families who hadn't taken theirs?" she noted.
In order to enable patients at the Bristol Royal Infirmary to communicate with their families, the family raised £6,000 for the NHS to purchase tablets to facilitate it. As a thank you, the family raised £6,000 for the NHS and were able to buy Samsung tablets for patients at the Bristol Royal Infirmary so they can keep in contact with family while in hospital.
"We've purchased ten tablets so far. We are hopefully going to get some more when they come back in stock," said Stapleton.