Politics

Kate Garraway was told husband would be ‘lucky if he could hold a hairbrush’

Kate Garraway has revealed further details about her husband Derek’s heart-wrenching battle with Covid.

Derek, 53, a former political advisor turned psychoanalyst and author, was hospitalised with coronavirus in March 2020 and was in a coma until the autumn.

He is now back home with Kate and their family, but he requires constant medical support and their life together has been completely changed.

The GMB presenter published a section of her book, The Power Of Hope, on her family’s experiences during Derek’s battle with Covid in the Mail on Sunday on May 2.

In the excerpt, Kate recalls a conversation with Derek’s doctor a few months after he first fell ill about what his recovery might look like and his shocking response was that her husband might be ‘able to hold a hairbrush’.

Derek was in hospital for over a year

Derek had been in a two month medically-induced coma and doctors didn’t understand why he hadn’t recovered from it.

They wondered whether it was due to the inflammation in his brain, another symptom caused by the virus.

“So what does a reasonable recovery look like?’ she asked the doctor. “What is the best we can hope for? What is in your mind when you use that term?”

His shocking reply was ‘being able to hold a hairbrush’.

This revelation made Kate feel ‘like I’d been shot’ and she said it still haunts her almost a year on.

She wrote: “Derek, brilliantly clever, mentally terrifying. My sounding board, the yin to my yang, the inspirational father to my children. My love, my life.

“I felt out of my body, floating somewhere above. Was I going to faint?”

What the doctor said next left Kate truly shell shocked.

Kate Garraway was told husband would be 'lucky if he could hold a hairbrush'

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When she asked the doctor when they might have an idea of what Derek’s recovery might look like, he responded: “I think it’s fair to say if he is still like this after two years we will know there is very little chance of him making any meaningful recovery.”

His response made Kate terrified that her husband and the father of her children might be lost to them forever.

She wrote: “So all this time I had been praying for Derek to live, willing him to come home to us, fearing that we would lose him. Now I had this new, even more terrifying, fear that, even if he lived, Derek might still be lost to us for ever.”

In the spirit of hope which the book is based on, this conversation spurred Kate on to try her hardest to communicate with Derek and help him recover in whatever way she could.

“Every time I rang I was thinking, right, what could trigger him? What anecdote might connect? What would help him know that life is out there?” she said.

But nothing could prepare Kate for what she saw when she finally got the opportunity to visit her husband.

She said: “Even now it remains hard to describe how I felt when I saw him. It was like a white ball of shock so bright you want to put your hand up to your eyes to protect them.

“My husband was unrecognisable. Legs like sticks, thinner than I’d thought his previously big frame could make possible. His arms too – how could muscle, flesh and fat become so small? Even his bones should be bigger than that, surely?

“His lungs heaved, mechanically wrenching in and out in an unnatural, desperate way. His eyes stared straight up as he lay on the bed, which I was grateful for as I didn’t want him to see my reaction.”

When she left, she sobbed uncontrollably.

Kate struggled for the next few days until her daughter Darcey shocked her by asking if she was going to kill herself.

Kate reassured her: “No, absolutely not, Darcey. It couldn’t be any more the opposite of that. I’ve never wanted to live more.”

The Power of Hope is available in hardback
Kate shares the emotional story of her husband long fight against Covid-19 in her new book

But her daughter’s question kicked Kate into getting her life together and returning to work.

In the excerpt from her book, Kate goes on to describe how over the next few months, Derek began to show small signs of improvement – a wiggle of his hand, saying the word ‘pain’.

And then quite possibly the biggest breakthrough for Kate – Derek being able to recall a date when he had forced her to dance to an Aerosmith song.

That ‘magical moment of recognition’ gave Kate the hope she needed to take the next step and prepare their home for him.

And almost on April 7, 373 days after an ambulance had taken him to hospital, Derek came home.

The Power Of Hope by Kate Garraway is available now in hardback.



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