Khaled Ahmed survived a severe bout of coronavirus that almost killed him, but says there is a long journey still ahead.
Khaled Ahmed spent nearly three months in hospital – two of which were in intensive care – fighting coronavirus.
The self-described healthy and “very sporty” 42-year-old has since been discharged from hospital but has faced a long road to recovery.
Here, for Sky News, he writes about his hospital experience and recuperation from the severe effects of COVID-19 – and ultimately what it’s like to beat the odds.
Hindsight. I have come by this word on many occasions, but now it resonates with a deeper meaning. I never thought I would experience a pandemic in my lifetime, let alone nearly die from it. I practically knocked at death’s door and lived to tell the tale.
I hope when people read this they can walk away taking this illness seriously.
After experiencing a sore throat and a very high temperature, I visited A&E and was admitted to hospital with pneumonia in March. Once I was in hospital, the doctors confirmed I had tested positive for COVID-19. My world was spiralling out of control.
I was thinking: “This is it, I’m not going to make it. I’m not going to see my family again.”
I was moved to ICU because my oxygen level dropped so low. I had only just spoken to my wife and was asking if she could come to see me at the hospital – but she never got to see or speak to me as I was then sedated and intubated.
I was in an induced coma through intubation for 41 days, and during my time in ICU, doctors carried out a procedure called a tracheostomy to enable me to be awake.
Eventually my family and I were allowed to Skype and I responded well to the voices of my wife and children.
Once the tracheostomy was removed, I was transferred to a normal ward – and my long road to recovery began.
At first, I was only fed intravenously before moving to fluids by mouth. This then led to yogurt and soups – all in the hospital. I continued this when I got home and was eventually able to eat soft rice.
I am still finding it difficult to eat solids but am trying as much as possible. My current go-to food is banana as it is soft but still strengthens my jaw muscles.
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I have been given excellent physiotherapy. The physio has meant relearning all the basics. I had to be taught how to sit. I had to learn how to pour myself some tea and even switch on the kettle! During all this I would become breathless and would have to rest in intervals. It can feel as though I have just run a marathon.
I am also improving the strength of my leg muscles. I needed to go upstairs to go to bed but at the beginning I could only manage one step and couldn’t go any further, which forced me to sleep downstairs.
Now I can get to the top – but I have to have a 10-minute rest as I feel as though I’ll pass out.
I came home on 18 May. I was so lucky coming out alive as the doctors said only 3% of people make it out alive from the condition I was in.
But the journey has not ended yet. I still have the community physiotherapy team and community district nurses coming once a week to help me and are available if I need them anytime.
I am exhausted physically and mentally but am determined to get through this.
I am alive and I get to see another day with my family after 63 days spent in a situation I would not wish on my worst enemy. I am a 42-year-old male with no underlying health issues and very sporty. I was under the illusion that I would never be one of the statistics, yet here I am.
I knocked at death’s door and lived to tell the tale!
Next week from Monday to Thursday, Dermot Murnaghan will be hosting After the Pandemic: Our New World – a series of special live programmes about what our world will be like once the pandemic is over.
We’ll be joined by some of the biggest names from the worlds of culture, politics, economics, science and technology. And you can take part too.
If you’d like to be in our virtual audience – from your own home – and put questions to the experts, email email@example.com