Michael Rosen has today revealed his ‘near death’ intensive care battle with Covid has left him almost blind in one eye, partially deaf and suffering breathless dizzy spells.
The award-winning children’s author spent 47 days in intensive care after testing positive for coronavirus earlier this year.
The 74-year-old writer, known for works including We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, Little Rabbit Foo Foo and Chocolate Cake, finally returned home in June.
But in a touching reunion with the doctors and nurses who saved his life, the former Children’s Laureate today revealed he was still suffering from the long-term consequences of coronavirus – known as ‘long Covid’.
During the BBC Radio 4 show, ‘The Reunion’, in which he spoke with his consultant, Professor Hugh Montgomery and charge nurse Ally Auladin, Mr Rosen said: ‘Well my left eye is pretty much fogged-up.
The 74-year-old writer, known for works including We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, Little Rabbit Foo Foo and Chocolate Cake, finally returned home in June after a 47 day intensive care battle with Covid-19
In a touching nod to wife Emma-Louise Williams, who in June shared a picture of Mr Rosen (pictured) at home, before praising staff at Whittington Hospital, Kanitz Critical Care Unit and St Pancras Hospital, Mr Rosen acknowledged the strain the virus can have on family members
LONG COVID: WHAT IS IT AND COULD IT BE FOUR DIFFERENT SYNDROMES?
Covid-19 is described as a short-term illness caused by infection with the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Public health officials tend to say people will recover within two weeks or so.
However it’s become increasingly clear that this is not the case for everyone, and that the two-week period is only the ‘acute illness’ phase.
The North Bristol NHS Trust’s Discover project, which is studying the longer-term effects of coronavirus, found that out of a total of 110 patients given a three-month check up, most (74 per cent) had at least one persistent symptom after twelve weeks. The most common were:
- Excessive fatigue: 39%
- Breathlessness: 39%
- Insomnia: 24%
- Muscle pain: 23%
- Chest pain: 13%
- Cough: 12%
- Loss of smell: 12%
- Headache, fever, joint pain and diarrhoea: Each less than 10%
Other long term symptoms that have been reported by Covid-19 survivors, both suspected and confirmed, anecdotally, include hearing problems, ‘brain fog’, memory loss, lack of concentration, mental health problems and hair loss.
The impact of Long Covid on people who had mild illness have not been studied in depth yet.
Data from the King’s College London symptom tracking app shows that up to 500,000 people in the UK are currently suffering from the long-term effects of Covid-19.
In October, scientists claimed Long Covid could actually be split into four different syndromes.
Academics at the National Institute for Health Research — headed up by Professor Chris Whitty — were asked to review the limited evidence on long Covid to help both patients and doctors understand the ‘phenomenon’.
Their findings warned that even children can suffer and it can’t be assumed that people who are at lower risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19 are also at low risk of lasting side effects.
Doctors cautioned some mental health problems such as anxiety and depression in ‘long-haulers’, as they are known, could be down to lockdowns, as opposed to the virus itself.
The experts also claimed that the symptoms could be grouped into four different groups:
- Post intensive care syndrome (PICS)
- Post viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS)
- Permanent organ damage (POD)
- Long term Covid syndrome (LTCS)
‘I’ve got no hearing in my left ear, I’ve got no sense in my toes.
‘I do get dizzy, I do get breathless, and I also have alternate day-syndrome as well where I am absolutely on it one day and the next day I flake out on the sofa and watch re-runs of Arsenal games.’
Mr Rosen, who served as Children’s Laureate between 2007 and 2009, began charting his battle with Covid-19 in March.
He wrote about ‘freezing cold sweats and deep muscle exhaustion’.
He was later taken into intensive care at the end of March.
His family warned at the time that he was ‘very poorly’.
But the showed signs of recovery in June, when he began to walk again.
The author made a return to Twitter on June 12 and has since shared his progress with his 220,000 followers.
However he revealed in the The Reunion, which aired today, that he has little memory of his intensive care battle.
Asked about his time in hospital he said: ‘I went through something that was near-death, and that then takes me to the NHS.
‘It’s that lovely phrase “the kindness of strangers”.
‘When we created the NHS we created something beautiful, we found a way of caring for each other that is both anonymous and yet at the same time incredibly intimate.
Speaking to the doctors and nurses who helped him, he said: ‘I didn’t know you but you knew me, my intimate details, and you did all those things we as parents do with people, you cleaned me up and you saved me. And you didn’t know me (as a person).
‘I’ll be forever grateful.’
As well as hospital staff, Mr Rosen also acknowledged the strain the virus has on family members, such as his own.
In a touching nod to wife Emma-Louise Williams, who in June shared a picture of Mr Rosen on his return home, before praising staff at Whittington Hospital, Kanitz Critical Care Unit and St Pancras Hospital, he said: ‘Every time Emma speaks about it I find it very difficult I have to say.
‘I find myself welling up thinking about her and our two children sitting here not knowing if I would peg-out or not. Just the strain of that.
‘Me, I had it easy, I was nearly dead, so it was alright.’
Mr Rosen had earlier thanked his family, friends and fans in a series of Tweets after being released from hospital in June.
In a post on Twitter Mr Rosen said: ‘Now I’m home Emma-Louise has been through the timeline of what happened to me.
‘I become overwhelmed by how she and the family hung on in hope while I was out of it in a coma for several weeks – survival in doubt.
‘I’m so lucky to have had such hope and support backing me.’
In follow-up Tweet, he added: ‘Teams of people in their crews: nurses, doctors, cleaners, caterers, ambulance drivers, physios (and more) made huge efforts to keep me alive – along with many others at the same time.
‘They saved my life and have got me from horizontal to hobbling. Forever grateful to you all xxx’
He also thanked all of the well-wishers who had sent him messages of support during his hospital battle.