‘Coronavirus almost killed me, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy’

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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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!


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