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Gratitude in recovery – our clinical director talks about how lucky he feels as he recuperates from COVID-19

Posted by Martin Preston
on 06 May 2020

“The whole experience of suffering COVID-19 whilst on holiday abroad and the kindness that has been shown to me has put me back in touch with my need for gratitude in my life,” our clinical director Mike Delaney said.

More than 100 offers of free accommodation were made to Mike after it was revealed that he was being treated for COVID-19 in Barbados and would have nowhere to stay on discharge from hospital. 

He is now staying in one of the apartments he was offered whilst he awaits a flight back to the UK.

Mike had taken a much deserved break to Barbados – as a celebration in advance of his 60th birthday – after helping us launch Delamere earlier this year. 

He flew to the island in March, when no travel restrictions were in place, intending to stay for two weeks, but became unwell soon after his arrival. He was diagnosed with coronavirus and taken to a makeshift hospital at a Barbados military base. 

Recovery from coronavirus

Fortunately Mike’s symptoms were relatively mild, but it took more than three weeks for the virus to clear from his system. During that time he had to remain in hospital with others who were suffering coronavirus too. 

Mike has spoken previously of how his experience of being a therapist as well as being in addiction recovery himself helped him cope during the worry, uncertainty and trauma of being in hospital alongside many very ill people (Mike is 24 years sober from drug and alcohol issues).

The extreme kindness he has been shown has also been a reminder of how important gratitude is during recovery. The art of being thankful for what you have is a great skill, comfort and healer.

Mike craved the test results that would show coronavirus was no longer present in his system and that he could leave hospital, but was also nervous as he had nowhere to stay and no way of knowing when a flight would become available to get him home.

Mike Delaney, Clinical Director at Delamere Rehab

More than 100 offers of help

The mother of a fellow hospital patient put a call out on Facebook for help for Mike and more than 100 responded. 

Mike said: “All the kindness is beautiful and makes the trauma of incarceration fade quicker. I cannot believe how lovely everyone has been. The medical staff and authorities here have been amazing. 

“There were times in the hospital that were quite traumatic. I saw lots of people who were very ill, lots of tears, fear and heard screams. 

“There was a gentleman in our group, who was maybe 70. He seemed fine then suddenly started coughing again.  By the evening he was really bad and died overnight. It was as quick as that and quite a shock to us. It was another reminder about how strong this illness is. If it wants to take you, it will.

“I was in such a precarious position but everyone has just rallied around me. I’ve been given this beautiful beachfront apartment to stay in, then somebody who runs a local shop arrived and filled my fridge. It was unbelievable. I started crying. I cannot believe how kind people have been.”

Mike is in daily contact with the British Embassy but it is not yet clear when a flight home will be available. May 18 has been mooted is a possibility.

Barbados is in strict lockdown to protect its small island community. Residents are only allowed out on allocated days to go to the supermarket and chemist.

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Mike’s 60th birthday is on May 14. He was due to have a party with 120 guests, but now expects it’s likely he’ll still be alone on the island.

He said: “I’ve had a lot of support from my colleagues at Delamere, which has remained open to help people throughout all of this. I’m really looking forward to getting back and being part of the team again.

“I drew a lot on my own experience as both a therapist and someone in recovery myself to cope with my time in hospital and I expect I’ll need to continue to do that as it all sinks in. It’s so important to recognise trauma and find a means to let it go.

“I’m lucky to be here and lucky to be alive. I’m so grateful to everyone.

“This whole experience has put me back in touch with my need for gratitude in my life. It’s so important to focus on what is really important in life and to feel grateful for what we have. It helps us to feel fulfilled and to look outward and see how we can help others.

“It’s an important area to consider and develop in recovery and a holistic treatment approach.”

About the author: Martin Preston

Martin created Delamere in order to provide exemplary care in first class facilities. Find out more about Martin on our team page.

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