'There are not enough words to thank people for their kindness'

Pat Johnson

Published on 12 May 2020

A senior NHS nurse says there are ‘not enough words’ to describe people’s kindness since she contracted coronavirus. 

Pat Johnson spent almost two weeks in intensive care at the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate – the same hospital where she works as manager of Bishopstone Ward.

The 57-year-old grandmother of three sent a message to her family WhatsApp group before she was put into a coma, telling them how much she loved them. 

Now recovering at home near Deal, she said the love and support from family, friends and colleagues helped her summon the strength to fight the virus.

She said: “Every single person throughout my illness has been fantastic. I think they are amazing – I always thought it but now I know it. 

“There are not enough words to describe how kind people have been. Even on the day they needed to intubate me, and I thought I might not make it, I still felt safe and cared for.

“I don’t think I would have made it without the support I have received. The emotional support has given me strength.” 

Pat first became ill in March, with a high temperature her first symptom. Her condition worsened during self-isolation at home despite a negative result from a COVID-19 test and, after contacting her GP, she was assessed by paramedics who took her straight to hospital.

Her worried family were forced to wait at home for news. 

Pat said: “I don’t remember much but I do remember feeling safe.

“I think as a healthcare professional I knew immediately how serious it was – particularly when they had to intubate me and put me on a ventilator. 

“I knew I was sick but to hear I was so sick I needed a ventilator made me realise I might not make it. There was definitely a realisation I could die, and that was very scary.”

Pat’s husband Max was kept informed by staff throughout her time in intensive care, and once she was taken off the ventilator she was able to facetime him. Once back on a ward she could call her family regularly. 

She said: “It was definitely hardest for my family. They had a call to say I was being intubated and then they couldn’t see me until I came home.

“But the care and compassion the ITU staff showed them was incredible and really helped.” 

Colleagues from across the hospital lined the corridors to applaud as Pat left ITU; a moment she describes as ‘overwhelming’.

She said: “I still can’t watch the video, it is too emotional. I am so lucky to work with such lovely and caring people. I consider myself blessed for that. 

“The support has continued since I have been home, with so many flowers, cards, and presents. It has really helped me feel positive.

“I still tire very quickly but I am getting stronger each day. When they said it would take a long time to recover, I thought I would be different but I am learning to be patient.”

And while she continues to focus on getting better, Pat has a message for her colleagues at the hospital.

She said: “I know the teams are working so hard, and working so well together to help each other out and get through it. I miss them and I will definitely be back as soon as I am well enough.”