His family had even said goodbye because things were going so badly. Rini Bruintjes was on respiration with corona for weeks on his back and stomach. But now 63-year-old Rini has been at work for months, dragging tiles in the garden and painting the walls in the house.
“It’s only been a good news show since I was released from hospital,” Rini says proudly in his voice. “I think I am in better shape now than I was before corona.”
‘I did not get to say goodbye’
The nasty adventure started in mid-March. Rini, an administrative employee at a metal company, called in sick with minor complaints. A week and a half later he was taken to hospital by ambulance.
“They put me away in a coma. I was in hospital in Almelo for 32 days, three weeks of which I did not know at all what was happening. The nurses sent a photo to my wife every day and put a phone in my ear in the hope I would hear the voice messages from her, my daughter and son. ”
Things got worse and worse with Rini. “My kidneys stopped working and part of my brain. It was 2 to 12, the doctor told my family. They had to say goodbye to me from a distance, in thought, but I didn’t get any of that either.”
Learn to climb stairs as quickly as possible
Fortunately Rini recovered. After a week of recovery in the hospital – his vocabulary and muscle strength had to slowly return and he had to learn to eat carefully again – the rehabilitation center was the next step.
After six weeks he was allowed to go home. “I have virtually no damage to my lungs, I think that helped me recover quickly. I also wanted to go home. That’s why I learned to climb stairs as quickly as possible, so that I could go to bed myself at home.
When Rini returned to work two months ago, his colleagues were surprised. They had in mind that every day of intensive care had a month of recovery time. “At the end of last month, the pulmonologist said: ‘You don’t have to come from me anymore.’ I only had a light cough and I’m a bit more forgetful.”
Of course, much is still unclear about the new corona virus, but we do know that the recovery can be erratic. People with mild complaints can be better within a week. But they can also last for weeks or months and experience frequent relapses.
In people who have had more serious complaints, and may have been admitted to hospital, recovery will take weeks, but this can also be longer. People who have been admitted to intensive care often take months to recover completely.
Fatigue, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, headache, muscle pain: almost three months after the first symptoms, a large number of corona patients still have serious complaints. More than 9 in 10 people indicate in a poll by the Long Fund that they have problems with simple daily activities. More than 90 percent of these people have not been hospitalized.
Source: coronalongplein.nl (collaboration between the Longfonds and the Long Alliantie Nederland).
Finally back to normal
“No relapses, no palpitations. I dare not believe it after the past six months …”, Sophie Eekman (51) recently wrote in the Facebook group for corona patients with long-term complaints. After eight months of misery, the photographer finally felt ‘normal’ again, still an unreal feeling, she says almost jubilantly on the phone.
Like Rini, Sophie fell ill in March. Like so many others, she was not tested at that time, but everything pointed to corona, said the doctors with whom she had contact via an app from bed. She was very ill for a short time: fever, cough, lung discomfort, extreme fatigue and headache. But none of that was so bad compared to what came after. Seven months in which Rini never got better, with relapses and palpitations with the least amount of effort.
“In the beginning I thought all the time: two weeks, two weeks, two weeks then it will be okay again, but that never happened. That was very difficult. I was always fit, I have maybe twice in my life. had the flu. After the umpteenth collapse, I had accepted it in September. And then I got infected again. “
This time Sophie had a higher fever and more pain, but the strange thing was: after those two weeks of suffering, she suddenly did not feel as tired as the six months before. “So crazy, something that I had for seven months and then stops so suddenly. Slowly I started doing things again and miraculously nothing happened. No relapses, no more heart palpitations.” She remembers the first time she did something she couldn’t do before: paint a wall in someone’s house. “I just kept feeling good!”
That tune from the phone
Perhaps the mental blow that corona gives you the most, think Rini and Sophie. While visiting the intensive care unit where he lay for those weeks, Rini met the people who helped him. “The staff recognized me, but I really didn’t. It was nice to see them, to close that period.” Because even though Rini turned out to be physically resilient in his sixties, his family is emotionally not over corona.
For example, the first thing Rini did when he came home after rehab is change the tune of the phone. “My wife couldn’t hear that sound anymore. When I was in the hospital, she got a phone call twice a day. They were told how I was doing. She was just waiting for that call for weeks. If not. she became nervous and worried. She is now seeing the psychologist with PTSD complaints. ”
One of the low points for Sophie was the first night after she knew about her second infection. “I thought: ‘Soon I will stay in it forever’. That night I was alone that night and had not regained my strength from the first time. I was so scared and thought: what if I suffocate from the cough? I can’t fight this disease again. ”
Another emotional moment was her first appointment with the lung physiotherapist. They never got around to exercises because Sophie could only cry. For the first time, someone listened and recognized her problems. “I’m better mentally because I’m better physically. It took me two or three weeks to believe it was over. Now I finally dare to say that out loud.”