My dad is making a remarkable recovery from being seriously ill with Covid-19 in December. While many younger adults who weren’t ill enough to be hospitalised are still struggling with breathlessness months after their diagnosis, my dad doesn’t get breathless and gets a little bit stronger every day. He can now walk for over a mile and does lots of jobs around the house. Not bad for a man who came off a ventilator on 16th December and came out of hospital on 30th December!
The other day I was talking to him and he said ‘Parkrun saved my life’.
That is a big claim, but he really believes it.
Parkrun saved his life on two counts – 1) that it meant he was that little bit fitter than he would have been otherwise. (Although the last parkrun in the UK did take place on 14th March last year.) Before he went on the ventilator, the consultant said he would normally give a 75-year-old man a 60% chance of survival, but because my dad was fit he put it at 70%.
Those odds sound pretty promising and thank goodness the consultant was right.
But the other way parkrun saved his life was because it showed the doctors and nurses treating him that he wasn’t ‘just’ a frail old man. They would have seen a rather skinny 75-year-old man who couldn’t get out of bed and was on oxygen and a tonne of medication. They wouldn’t have seen a man who had run over 100 parkruns. So he told them.
He told them that he did parkrun every week and that he’d done 125 of them.
For good measure, he also told them he’d been a lawyer and is the chair of a small charity.
Running every week and being the chair of a charity at the age of 75 showed he was a man who was still very much alive. He wasn’t a man who was nearing the end of his life anyway.
Of course, nobody should be ableist, but the doctors have some big decisions to make. The reality is they don’t have enough ventilators for everyone. We’re lucky that my dad was in hospital just before things went ballistic.
Although there is so much misinformation around now and we don’t know what to believe any more, anecdotally I’ve heard that hospitals are no longer ventilating over 70s. Having lived through all of those weeks of fear when my dad was ill, I can’t bear to think what those people and their families are going through – knowing that hospitals potentially have a way to save their lives, but they aren’t using them. They are prioritising others whose chances are better. Imagine if that was your mum or dad whose life wasn’t worth saving.
But my dad fought for his life. He told them about parkrun and the life he had before. They decided his was a life worth saving.
And they were right.