Jacqui Robbins has had to totally shield herself, including from her husband Jim, a borough councillor, because she is particularly vulnerable after being put into a coma last year

They kindly agreed to write a weekly diary to let us know how they’re getting on, exactly one year later.

Jacqui's diary

This week marks one year since I was put into an induced coma and placed on an ECMO machine that saved my life. I still find it hard to believe it happened to me.

One minute I am living my normal life, going to work, driving Georgia round her after-school clubs and playing netball, next thing I wake up eight days later in London not having a clue what had happened to me, and unable to walk from the muscle wastage.

I always knew this would be a hard week, to think back and reflect on what happened and how lucky I am to still be here. I had hoped to be able to do a fundraiser to thank the staff at the Royal Brompton Hospital for all their care and support, but this has not been possible.

I did take the opportunity to write and formally thank my family for the roles they played in my recovery.

I was in the Royal Brompton for three weeks and despite the distance and the cost to travel there, I was not left alone for one day. They also rallied round to look after Georgia and because of this she has been left largely unscathed by the whole situation.

Being in hospital made me realise that the most important things in my life were my health, family and friends and this is where I should invest more of my time and energy, and I have tried to follow this through in the last year.

I also remember looking out of the window at everyday people living their lives in London and thinking that they probably did not appreciate how lucky they were to be going to work or doing everyday boring chores. Fast forward a year and I bet there are now quite a few of us that wished we could go back to our jobs and our daily routines, whereas before we may have cursed it all.

In other news this week, I have had another letter from work to say that I am now being furloughed until the end of July, I know I should feel blessed – another two months off on 80 per cent pay, what’s not to like?

But the longer this goes on the more nervous I feel about either returning to work or being made redundant. However, I continue to tell myself to defer the worry until I must, and that I am unlikely to have another opportunity like this again so enjoy the time off.

Last weekend we also tried out an online escape room with my dad and sister. We had to laugh as it took us 50 minutes just to all log on and access the puzzles, however it was very enjoyable. The puzzles were fun and we managed to work it all out in an hour and 11 minutes.

We plan to do it again this weekend as there are many other puzzles to try.

Jim's diary

This week saw the anniversary of Jacqui’s illness and it certainly brought back some memories. The teams at the Great Western Hospital intensive care and the Royal Brompton Hospital ECMO team (the machine that kept Jacqui alive during her coma) have been in the news recently as they are on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic.

We all have a huge amount to thank the incredible staff of the NHS for, and I certainly will never be able to repay the huge debt that I owe the teams.

I’ll never forget the feeling that I had when the staff at GWH explained that Jacqui was on a ventilator which was turned up to full and that it wasn’t powerful enough to get enough oxygen into her lungs. They had said that it was touch and go, but they had been speaking to a team from London who thought that they could help.

As soon as the consultant from the Brompton arrived, he gave me confidence that he knew what he was doing and within minutes they had set up the operating theatre and were preparing to hook Jacqui up to the ECMO machine. They transported her back to London in their specialist ambulance and she was in a stable condition at the Royal Brompton that evening.

It has been a long year of recovery, as Jacqui spent eight days in a coma before they judged her lungs were recovered enough to take her off the ECMO and the doctors warned us that it would take up to a year for her to recover fully.

Seeing the intensive care units in the news and especially hearing the sounds of the machines brings back the feelings of that time, and I remain in awe of the people who work in the units every day.

We also commemorated the anniversary of VE Day with a social-distanced sharing of a drink with the neighbours. It was nice to be out the front of the house chatting away with different people for a change, and even Jacqui managed to stay distanced from people but have a chat. I think that the bizarre nature of the celebrations this year will make it live in the memory longer.

Along with the nation, we saw the statement by the prime minister and watched the ensuing debate about what he actually meant by it, with some detachment as we know that things won’t change for us anytime soon.

I will continue to be working from home for the foreseeable future, Jacqui will be shielding, and Georgia won’t be returning to school as her year haven’t been scheduled to return.

I’m having meetings as a school governor trying to work out how the school can reopen safely. I struggle to see how nursery, reception and Year 1 pupils can safely socially distance, but understand the way that schools are a safe haven for some pupils.

We’ll continue to prepare for the opening but wonder if the government will review its decision before June 1.