Birmingham & Black Country

Coronavirus: Birmingham caretaker faces 'unknown' recovery

Denise Horton and Gary Horton Image copyright Denise Horton
Image caption Gary Horton, with wife Denise, was able to leave hospital on 11 May

A "strong and healthy" school caretaker who had only taken one day off sick in 20 years spent more than three weeks on a ventilator battling coronavirus.

Gary Horton, 55, from Quinton, Birmingham, suffered kidney failure in hospital and underwent a blood transfusion.

He came home on 11 May, but now needs 24-hour care as he still struggles with breathing and loss of strength.

His wife said they were now entering "unknown territory" with his recovery.

"No one can tell you what that recovery will be like because no one has been through it," said Denise.

"Prior to this he had no health concerns. He'd had one day off sick in 20 years, he is strong and healthy usually."

Mr Horton's symptoms started with a "tickly cough" on 20 March, his wife said, before the illness hit him "full force" two days later.

The following Friday Mr Horton, who works as a building services manager at a Birmingham primary school, was taken by ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, she said, and three days later was taken to intensive care and placed on a ventilator.

Image copyright Denise Horton
Image caption Mr Horton was able to Facetime his family for the first time while in hospital three weeks ago

Although the family were not able to visit, the hospital set up a liaison worker who would call them each day with updates.

On Easter Sunday, his sedation was reduced, but it was another week before he was able to have a "very emotional" video call with his family

Image copyright Denise Horton
Image caption The couple, pictured with children Harry, Lily, Daniel, had to protect their eldest son who has a heart condition

The couple have three children, 17-year-old Lily, 14-year-old Harry and their eldest Daniel, 21, who has a heart condition and so is considered vulnerable.

After being released from hospital a little over a week ago, a bedroom has been made for Mr Horton downstairs, as he still gets quite breathless, and he requires 24-hour care from his wife.

He is undergoing physiotherapy to regain his strength, and walks using a stick.

"The biggest shock for us, and most patients in intensive care, is the after effects. He couldn't move for about a week, couldn't lift his fingers or his hand, he has had to learn to do everything again," Mrs Horton said.

But, she added: "It is wonderful to have him home, I have been staring at him like a weirdo."

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