‘Parkrun saved my life’

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.

parkrun, grandpa, daughter, running, 365

My dad running his 100th parkrun with my daughter in August 2019

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I am so glad your dad is on the mend. I know how worried you were. My dad is just about back to his normal self too and he is putting his recovery down to the fact he is so active too. He doesn’t do park runs but he never stops, always on the go.
    Good on your dad for letting the doctors and nurses know that he was a fighter and no where near ready to give up on life.
    That is scary that there is news about over 70’s not being ventilated. It does make me glad our dad’s got ill when they did and not now. x

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    • Thanks very much, it is such a relief! So glad to hear your dad is just about back to normal too. My dad was told a year to make a full recovery from being on a ventilator, but he walked nearly a mile and a half yesterday and it’s only six weeks cine he came off the ventilator!
      Obviously I don’t know if that’s true about them not ventilating the over 70s, it’s just one of the many things you hear, but I’m so glad my dad got ill when he did. x

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  2. A horrible decision for any medical professional to have to make. Must be horrible enough knowing they are doing their best but for that best to be made purely on age must be heartbreaking for everybody. Glad he is getting stronger and stronger

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    • Thanks very much, it is such a relief that he is recovering well. It’s an awful decision for a medical professional to make. I don’t know if it’s true about the over 70s as there are so many rumours around, but I suppose if they have one ventilator and they’re got a 50 year old and a 75 year old that need it, they would be most likely to choose the 50 year old.

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  3. It’s such good news that your Dad is making a good recovery. I hope he’s fit and well again soon and that you will all be able to continue with your Park Runs. It’s so sad the situation at the moment.

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    • Thanks very much. The situation at the moment is awful, but my dad is making a remarkable recovery. I thought he would say that he wanted to volunteer for a few weeks when parkrun comes back, so he could ease himself in. But he seems to determined to run/ walk, which is brilliant!

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  4. Wow, I hadn’t heard that they weren’t ventilating over 70s. I’m so glad that your dad is on the mend now, it sounds like he is making a remarkable recovery. His fitness and all his responsibilities must have given him a real psychological boost and a reason to get better when things got bad too.

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    • Thanks very much! I hoped he would be as determined as that, but when you can’t visit it’s hard to know what’s going on, even though I spoke to him every day (apart from the week he was in intensive care). I don’t know if it’s true or not that they aren’t ventilating over 70s, it’s just one of the many rumours I’ve heard, but it is certainly something to think about in relation to our parents. x

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  5. My parents will be 70 next year and they both parkrun every week with 10km runs in the mix too. My dad recently slipped under the magic 30min mark, about the same pace as me! The thought that their fitness might give them a bit better chance if they catch this awful illness is just a tiny bit comforting.
    Its wonderful to hear your dad is recovering, I’m sending him all the very best wishes that it continues that way and he can get back to running when he’s ready.

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    • Thanks very much! Apparently he will be ready as soon as parkrun comes back! I thought he might want to volunteer for a couple of weeks to ease himself in at first, but he is very determined. I was worried he would lose his determination when he was ill and think he couldn’t do things any more, but clearly not.
      That’s great that your parents do parkrun every week and 10ks too! My dad literally only does parkrun (although he walks every day). I think it would give his fitness a boost to do another run a week once he’s 100%, but I’m just happy that he wants to get back to parkrun. What a great time for your dad too! My dad isn’t as quick as that, but he’s faster than some and he got two PBs last year.

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  6. Oh gosh I really hope that isn’t true about not ventilating the over 70s!
    So glad that your dad was fit and healthy. He’s doing so well.

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    • I don’t know if it’s true or not, you hear so many things from so many sources. They will definitely only ventilate people they have a realistic chance of saving though.
      My dad is going brilliantly, thanks very much.

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