Michael Rosen has revealed the extent of his battle with coronavirus, as the deadly virus left him hours from death when he was rushed to A&E and doctors warned him he ‘might not wake up.’
The award-winning poet and author, 74, spent almost seven weeks in an induced coma on a ventilator after falling ill in March.
He told the Today programme: ‘I thought I was coping with a flu… or that it was the coronavirus and I was going to be one of those people who experience it as a kind of flu.’
But things started ‘moving very, very quickly’ when a neighbour, who is a GP, did an ‘oxygen saturation test… and suddenly it was, ‘You’ve got to go to A&E now’.
‘They handed me a piece of paper and said you’ve got a 50/50 chance. I said “Well are you telling me that’s better than the chance I’ve got now?”
‘And I said “Are you telling me I might not wake up?” and they said ‘Yes’, then I signed something.’
Michael Rosen’s wife, Emma-Louise Williams, shared a picture of the author on Twitter as he returned home for the first time following his battle with the illness
Describing the experience of being ‘rushed’ to A&E, he added: ‘I don’t think I sensed, at that moment, that I was probably two or three hours off departing this planet.
‘My respiratory system was conking out but so were my liver and kidneys and I didn’t know that but found out afterwards.’
Asked how he is now, the former Children’s Laureate told the Radio 4 programme: ‘The first word I think of to describe myself is feeble. My legs feel very, very feeble.
‘I think of them as cardboard tubes full of porridge. When I ask them to do things they don’t do it. I’ve learnt how to walk with a stick and a bit without a stick.
‘I can hear that my voice is a bit feeble as well and then I get tired very quickly. I’ve also lost some sight from my left eye and (hearing) from my left ear. So I feel a bit lopsided. Feeble and lopsided.’
The children’s author, whose books include We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, Little Rabbit Foo Foo and Chocolate Cake, has now returned from hospital and said being on a ‘knife edge’ had changed him as a person.
‘I was so near to going…. It’s a reminder of how life is very impermanent,’ he said.
‘I get these, not exactly nightmares, but recurring images… and I don’t really want them there but I can’t get rid of them.’
‘I didn’t know about the seven weeks being in this induced coma until I came home and (his wife) Emma told me about it… I got quite upset about it…. That’s full of emotion for me, that people were just hanging in there.’
Rosen will not be writing about the experience just yet, saying: ‘I usually allow these more traumatic things to sit about for a bit.’
His wife, Emma-Louise Williams, shared a picture of Mr Rosen at home, before praising staff at Whittington Hospital, Kanitz Critical Care Unit and St Pancras Hospital, all in London, for their help.
In a post on Twitter Mr Rosen said: ‘Now I’m home Emma-Louise has been through the timeline of what happened to me.
Mr Rosen, who served as Children’s Laureate between 2007 and 2009, began charting his battle with Covid-19 in March
‘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.
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 made jokes about his walking stick, which he named ‘Sticky McStickstick’, saying: ‘Just as I was beginning to love my stick, Sticky McStickstick, I’m told, ‘You mustn’t become totally stick-reliant.’ Oh noooooooo!!!’
Mr Rosen later followed it up by saying his tweet was ‘not a dig at physios’, who he later described as ‘the best’.