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Personal stories of hope

1 Dennis Burch – Living with chest problems
2 Glenn Myers   Four weeks in a coma

Glenn Myers   Four weeks in a coma

When I heard stories of people emerging from intensive care after a long time in a coma caused by COVID-19, it all felt eerily familiar to me. 

Back in 2013, long before Covid was around, I had pneumonia which took a turn for the worse and led me to intensive care. I was put into a medically induced coma in Addenbrooke’s. My temperature rose to 106 degrees Fahrenheit and the doctors told my wife at one point that I may not survive the night: at that temperature multiple organ failure was very likely.

We were members of St Martin’s Church at the time (we still are) and they were kind enough to take my condition to heart. They organised a prayer vigil for us. They set up a rota and different members of the congregation signed up to pray for an hour each. In total they prayed for 36 hours, just when my pneumonia was at its worst.

At the end of the 36 hours, I had not died, and my temperature started to stabilise and eventually, to fall. I remained in a coma, though, for four full weeks (this was in May 2013, a month I basically missed completely). My family were talking to me and reading me books and trying to wake me up. Eventually I did start to open my eyes. 

For a while I was completely paralysed but slowly I got my function back. I was in a wheelchair for many months more, but eventually I was able to put the wheelchair in the garage and resume quite a normal life.

A long road

Leaving hospital was a wonderful recovery and an answer to prayer, but also the start of a long further road to healing and rethinking my life. 

Two things stood out. One was family and friends and church friends and how sustaining was their love and care and prayers. Nothing was more important in my healing than the love of others. 

The second thing was how important it is to have something to live for. For me this meant getting rid of commitments that I had got involved in but which I found energy-sapping. Then it meant focusing on what I truly loved; which in my case was writing. I’ve been a writer all my life: for 20 years I was the staff writer for a Christian charity. After my coma I took myself off committees and cut down on other commitments and focused on writing which for me was the thing I did best and loved most. It gave me energy and purpose. Other people of course find purpose and direction in any of a million other things. The important thing, I found, is to focus on that which you really love and are good at and that gives you life.

It was an enormous help to have a faith in God (even though, like many people, I’d wandered into the Christian faith without really knowing how or why). Many times during those days the hymns we sung in church reminded me of the promises of God and the goodness of God and the fact that I was held in his arms even though circumstances were difficult. I often found myself crying when we sung the old hymns. Now I understand that that was a part of healing as important in its own way as the physical recovery in Addenbrooke’s. Being comforted and reassured by the love of God puts a spring in your step and a gleam of light in your eyes I think.

I was born with heart disease and it has been a feature of all my life; yet in all those decades I’ve also been sustained by the faithfulness of God. I do not know how I would live without it. Family, friends, purpose, trust in God through Christ: they seem to be for me the elements of a good life that nothing can take away.

Glenn Myers lives locally with his wife and they have two grown-up children. Glenn is the only non-Cambridge graduate in his family—the slow learner.

His books are listed and available on Amazon