'It's all about living life to the full now' - South Shields family's joy as 69-year-old returns home after six-month-long battle with Covid
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Staff at the Haven Court nursing facility lined up outside the McAnany Avenue centre to cheer and applaud as Jeannette Johnson 69, returned to her South Shields home.
Her neighbours at the Frank Bushell House sheltered accommodation, on Tyne Terrace, were also out in a show of support to welcome Ms Johnson back to the housing complex after almost six months since she first contracted Covid.
She was first admitted to the South Tyneside District Hospital on December 9, 2020, before being transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle just after the turn of the year, as her symptoms had worsened significantly.
Ms Johnson’s family were told twice by medics that it was likely she may not pull through, having gone in one instance into multi-organ failure – with one hospital phone call arriving at 6pm on New Year’s Eve.
She remained in intensive care therapy until mid-February, after becoming comatose at the back end of 2020.
Her daughter, South Shields resident, Tracey Mienie, spoke of her family’s sense of relief at finally seeing their mother begin to regain some of her lost freedoms on Friday, April 30.
“She was very emotional when she saw everybody - really grateful to be out,” she told The Gazette.
"Looking back, it was the intensive therapy that she went through got her through it all. From mid-February to March, it was a transition process as she began to come out of the coma.
"We were told that if she stayed on a respirator, she would have a very low chance of surviving. Then, we were told it was a 50 percent chance – and she just kept improving, getting stronger day on day from then on.
"We were called twice to say goodbye to her as they didn’t think she’d make the night. But we never lost hope – even when things were at their worst.”
In Ms Mienie’s words, a ‘mini-motorcade’ helped see her mother back to her Tyne Terrace home just a couple of streets away.
The virus has, however, taken its toll on Ms Johnson – previously a volunteer at the Red Cross charity shop on King Street – having had a considerable emotional impact, Ms Mienie said.
Although the ordeal has not dimmed the family’s outlook, as they now plan to make the most of the lockdown’s gradual easing.
“I’m so grateful to all the health workers that have looked after her these past six months – from the teams at South Tyneside and the RVI to carers at Haven Court. They were fantastic, honestly.
"She’s been desperate to go home, desperate to see family. She’s got a twin sister that lives in the same block of flats as she does.
"So she’s missed her terribly. She’s just missed being in her own space and doing things for herself.
"I know a meal with the family is something she’s really looking forward to. We’re also planning an overseas holiday together, when restrictions allow for it again – it’s all about living life to the full, as far as we’re concerned now.”