My Brush with Covid-19

Mehmet Adali with his family

Mehmet Adali, member of Mimmine and Bergnet Lodge No 4932, was unfortunate enough to contract the Covid-19 coronavirus early in the lockdown period. Here, he shares his story with us:

“I am 55 years old, married to Christine and have two daughters aged 13 and 8.

During the week leading up to the end of March I was a little suspicious of my health, so I regularly took my temperature which proved to be normal.

I have suffered from headaches for quite a few years. Tests and scans did not reveal any cause so, I just had to manage them the best way I could with regular over the counter painkillers.

This is relevant to the Covid-19 infection that was to come because the paracetamol was probably responsible for keeping the fever under control without me realising that I had the virus. The first indication that something was wrong in the days leading up to Friday 27th March was that my headache was getting more intense. That evening I called NHS 111 helpline again. In fact, I do not actually remember calling them. Apparently, they already dispatched an ambulance. My memory of that night was sitting on the sofa and my wife Christine being concerned with my breathing rate. Christine called the emergency services to see how far away they were. I really did not think anything of it. As it happens, I was getting losing consciousness. When the paramedics arrived, they tested my blood pressure and oxygenation in my blood. When they gave me an oxygen mask, I remember feeling some comfort. They had to help me get into a wheelchair and took me to the ambulance.

I was offered to be taken to Wexham Park Hospital rather than Stoke Mandeville as it was closer. Apparently, we went with the blue lights flashing but I was unable to see through any windows. The ambulance engine was not roaring as I expected it to be. I was a little disappointed but that was ok as I was comfortable with the oxygen mask. 

I think it was then that I started my texting anybody I could to let them know that I was on my way to Wexham Park Hospital. I remember finding it difficult to type on the phone. Christine was not allowed to come with me to the hospital. By this stage I felt like I was falling asleep. Inside the ambulance I remember looking around and thinking that this was an amazingly equipped vehicle and the cupboards looked rather like kitchen units. The paramedic was constantly talking to me. When we arrived at the A&E the doctor asked me for details of a next of kin. Again, I do not remember doing this but I called my brother in the USA and told them that they have my wife’s number on the ambulance papers. Then came the anaesthetic. I was asked to count backwards from 100. I may have reached 98.

They put me straight onto a ventilator in intensive care and there I stayed for 3 weeks.

During this 3-week period they had to turn me on my front a couple of times. At some stage my kidneys were suffering so they had to put me on dialysis too.

During this 3-week period, on several occasions I was fighting sedation. In response they had to give me more sedatives. This is my favourite part of the story where the Sister while updating my wife said ‘Your husband is very strong, and he knows how to handle his sedatives’.

I had a lot of dark dreams during my stay. This was not very pleasant. After they removed the ventilator, I was moved to an Intensive Care Recovery ward where I stayed for a further week. This was a bizarre experience. They say that COVID survivors experience delirium and hallucinations after coming off the ventilator. It certainly was true for me.

After the 3-week intubation they tried to get me to wake up, but this turned out to be tricky. However, I did manage to pull my feeding tube out myself and start disconnecting tubes and wires.

It seems I was a bit of a handful. At this point I called Christine and asked her where my car keys are as I needed to get home. She explained of course that I could not come home and that I have to stay in the hospital and in order to get home I have to do what the doctor’s and nurses tell me to do.

When they wanted to scan my brain, I was convinced that they wanted to apply Electro Convulsive Therapy. I would not let them do anything. By this stage I was not able to sit up without help. I was totally disoriented. I had no idea what time it was. I looked around and according to my ‘drug induced beliefs’ I had a fellow Brother in one bed next to me. He was not of course but I can be forgiven for this one as he did look rather like a Brother in Buckinghamshire. Across the ward I believed there was a Tottenham Hotspurs player and he had his wife in a nearby bed and two daughters dressed in Habib rocking their babies to sleep. I thwarted terrorist attacks, decrypted computer drives, uncovered a 55-million-dollar fraud, my niece in the USA was to become the next president of the USA and so on. The dreams and hallucinations seem to merge into a long string of slightly disturbing and sombre movies. Some of these dreams involved someone calling out my name. I wonder if these voices were actually the nursing staff trying to wake me up. I’ll never know.

A day or two passed and I understood that they actually just want to do a MRI scan. I apologised for not having let them do this before. The scan showed no damage.

By day 3 or 4 on the recovery ward I was starting to pick at food, but I was so sleepy and dizzy from the medication I really didn’t eat much. You would think that I was as thin as a rake but alas not. I still had my investment into Masonic Festive Boards to show.

They took blood samples regularly. It felt as if they were syphoning off a tube two or three times a day.

One night there was some commotion in the Recovery ward. I popped my head up and asked if I could have a shower. The sister stopped what she was doing for a second and told me ‘It is 1.30 in the morning, go back to sleep’.

One day I did eventually get my shower. However, I was unable to stand and so after falling down they allowed me to continue the shower on a chair.

They allowed Christine to visit me. From that point onwards I was just eating grapes. I demolished a couple of supermarket punnets in no time at all. Then there was the quest for anything Citrus.

I was on a mission now. The physiotherapists came around to see what state I was in. I tried very hard to show them what they needed to see.

Then came the opportunity to show that I could walk using a frame in front of the physiotherapists. This did not go unnoticed. There was one nurse that was always concerned about my stability, but the other staff helped me to get up and move. My plan was working.

On Thursday 23th April, the Medical Consultant, who was the spitting image of Victoria Coren Mitchell, checked my lungs and signed me off for discharge as soon as the physiotherapists approved my release. Presumably all my blood tests came back favourably by this stage. Already the next day the duty nurse called Christine and told her that she can come and collect me from hospital. I had to wait for a long time. I was still very lethargic from the medication.

The speed of my release came as a surprise to Christine. I wonder why they were so keen to get me out.

Finally, I was wheelchaired out to the front of the hospital. The relief of climbing into the car was very memorable.

Mehmet Adali with members of the medical team who looked after him

When we turned into our Close, I was greeted by most of our neighbours throwing streamers, confetti and cheering. It was quite overwhelming. I was physically supported by my wife and daughter. I don’t think anyone could hear what I was saying. I remember the look on some of the faces of happiness and relief. Perhaps some were confused with the new bearded look.

Anyone who lives in our area knows that we have a strong community, but It was really overwhelming how many people came along. Since then I have learned how much support Christine received from locals and of course both lodges that I am a member of. News travelled fast and the get well wishes, cards, flowers came in.

There is no doubt in my mind that this was more painful for my family and friends than for myself.

I just went to sleep then I was on a mission to get up and get going. The Doctors and other staff at the hospital were absolutely amazing and I can’t thank them enough for saving me.

During the whole episode, Christine kept a lot of people informed and in turn they kept others informed. The strength it must have taken her to cope with me in my state, our two children, two dogs and two cats and all the calls and messages on top of anything else she was doing.

My local community here have been extremely supportive too. One of our friends from the local primary school set up a fundraising event for the benefit of the ITU that looked after me at Wexham Park Hospital. This was put together by friends nearby who have a child at the same primary school as my younger daughter. They set a target of £2000 for the event which finished up having raised £7733 to date. They aptly designed the event to reflect the 12-hour shift work that the front-line NHS workers do.

The story as published on for the event was as follows:

The Holtspur community are fundraising as a small show of gratitude for the amazing care and attention a good friend of ours received whilst recovering in the ITU Recovery Ward at Wexham Park Hospital.

We will do this by taking part in a sponsored run/walk/cycle around Holtspur across 3 days, for 12 hours each day. Individuals or families will complete as many laps as they can in an hour, before handing over to the next person/family, and so on, from 8am to 8pm each day. We aren’t racing but instead challenging ourselves to do something extra and asking others to sponsor us whilst doing it.

Frimley Health Charity exists to enhance patient care at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust by providing support that is above and beyond the NHS budget, making patient care and comfort better primarily by raising funds for enhanced facilities & medical equipment.

Eton Lodge very generously donated £200 to this event. The hospital contacts involved were constantly sending out tweets and the word spread. After the event the ITU came back with a reply with what they wanted to do with the money.

Below is the email that came back from the Frimley Trust.

“I have spoken to the team in ITU and they are absolutely thrilled with your generous donation and have already fed back how they would like to use the funds.

They would like to use your generous donation to purchase a Theratrainer bike, which we can use to enhance the rehabilitation & recovery of patients within critical care. It encompasses both leg and an arm bike that can be brought to the patient’s bedside. It can be used in ‘passive’ mode to stop joint stiffness & help with swelling. It then also has an ‘active’ function that helps build strength and cardiovascular fitness.

We have double-checked the cost with the company and the cost is £6834 inclusive of VAT. They have asked that I pass on their upmost gratitude to all of you that helped fundraise for them and that this purchase will make a significant difference to the critical care of all the patients in ITU.”

You can also watch Mehmet giving his own account below: