Welcome back to the Achiever Series
In this chapter, we’re delighted to feature one of our brilliant members, Sean Fitzpatrick. Sean is well-known nationally as one of the first patients to leave intensive care successfully after being completely blown away by Covid 19 back in 2020.
We sat down with Sean to discuss his recovery from the illness and the massive strides that Sean has taken to get himself back to not only walking again but exercising in our gym and exercise facilities.
With the help of his Get Active and GP Referral coach Mo, Sean continues to make huge progress, increasing his mobility and strength, continuing to recover from what took not only Sean but the world by storm just over three years ago.
Life before Covid 19
Sean moved to the UK in the mid-’80s, having fallen in love with New Wave, and the Synth music phenomenon. His passion for travel, embracing different cultures and simply anything with an engine led him to become an air steward with a South African airline and then British Airways.
For 27 years Sean spent his life serving in the air, in his element when it came to meeting new people and talking with his travelling customers. He’d spend most take-offs and landings in the flight decks of his aircraft, enjoying laughs with the pilots.
Fast forward to 2019. Sean was travelling on a long haul stopover to Rio de Janeiro when the news broke that Covid had hit the world, his immediate reaction was to stay well away from any of the locals.
“I thought to myself, I’m going to stay in my room, take in the sights from here. I don’t want anything to do with what’s going on out there”.
Little did Sean know that he had already contracted Covid and that the rest of his life would be affected by the virus.
Following the onset of the illness, Sean found himself sofa-bound. At home, alone and in a state of delirium. His memory of the next few weeks has completely gone. Sean explains to us in our interview that he recalls full dreams, that all felt completely real. But as to what was happening at home, he’s none the wiser. He’d call his friends asking to help with food deliveries when he’d wake but didn’t have the energy to make it to the front door to pick them up.
When breathing became a struggle, Sean called for an ambulance. He thought he was going to A&E, he was however going to complete isolation, taken away by the emergency services in full hazmat suits to be cared for initially in an intensive care unit.
During an induced state of a coma, Sean struggled for his life, he suffered from a number of strokes and at one point was thirty minutes away from losing his life. Through some miracle, and the willingness to live which is echoed throughout this article, Sean pulled through.
“I had the most incredible care at Ashford Hospital. The doctors and all the nurses were brilliant. At first, they didn’t know what to do, but they tried all sorts of things to help me and naturally as soon as the right medication became available, I was in the best place possible
… I was in recovery for two months. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t swallow, I’d lost complete mobility on one side of my body.”
Immediately, it was the doctors, surgeons, physiotherapists and speech therapists who took Sean from the ICU to the Bradley Unit, a very small re-habilitation unit in Woking. Sean would go on to show pure grit and determination to get himself well enough to go home.
During this part of our interview with Sean, he spoke of an ironic moment where two physiotherapists were working on his legs, aiding his mobility and manoeuvring him into different positions to loosen his joints and muscles. In walked a doctor who turns to him and says “Unfortunately, you’re never going to walk again Sean”.
“Well, what’s the bloody point in these two then!”
Sean’s amazing personality is reflected throughout our interview with him. While he’s certainly determined and self-admittedly belligerent, he speaks with a cheeky smile and a wink! He talks of his time with his amazing physiotherapists where he describes himself as “simply willing”. The doctors would prescribe movement, actions and exercises, he’d get on with it.
“I stumbled out of that hospital, I looked like a bloody idiot, but I did it.”
Explaining the long last effects of the virus, Sean describes his day-to-day life as sometimes misleading to others. He can now walk with the assistance of a cane but within three or four minutes, he can lose his breath or feel exhausted. Sean explains further; “I’ll be sitting in the lounge and all of a sudden, I’m asleep. It’s hard for people to understand at times. I don’t process things the same way I used to. It affected my mind as well as my body. That being said, I walked up the stairs today, because I’m determined that I will. I’m not supposed to be walking upstairs, so I do. Mo tells me off regularly!”
Meeting Mo and the team at Achieve Lifestyle
Sean was referred to Achieve Lifestyle and the team in our Egham Orbit referral programme by his at-home physiotherapist. He spoke with Erica our Health and Fitness Manager and after a short while was introduced to his now coach, Mo. Following 6 months of rehab and strength and conditioning with the team, Sean is now in a brilliant position mentally and physically. Sitting in this meeting room today, and hearing his story, Sean is incredibly proud of his progress.
From the hospital bed, thirty minutes from death, to taking part in group exercise classes here at Egham Orbit, he’s gone from strength to strength. His optimism’s infectious. Sean goes on to talk about his time with his coach and the steps he’s taken to walk more freely since working with the team;
“Sometimes it’s the simple things, Mo told me one week to go home and touch my thumb to my finger. A lot of my struggles, I believe, are controlled by my brain. I had one leg that didn’t work, in my right leg I had the most extreme pain. It must be neurological pain.
When the leg started working and I started to do more, the pain started to go, I’ve been able to come off some of the painkillers.”
I had very little strength when I got here. Mo’s been working with me on my coordination, my balance, and my core strength. He’s now got me working on my own from a programme, he’s given me the confidence to trust my own strength. His aim is to get me to skip, eventually”.
Sean’s appetite and willingness to improve his mobility and physical fitness are matched by that of his coach, Mo. Sean believes that a huge part of his recent success has come from his coach’s ability to recognise his strengths and weaknesses and understand what needs to be planned for his next few weeks of sessions. The progress is consistent, while at times challenging.
“As humans, we need recognition. Mo recognises the small amounts of progress I make every week.”
Throughout the article, Sean credits his progress to the hard work of Mo and the team at Achieve Lifestyle. With the help of his Get Active and GP Referral coach Mo, Sean has been able to make huge strides in his recovery, increasing his mobility and strength.
Sean Fitzpatrick’s story is one of resilience and determination. After contracting Covid-19 in 2019, Sean refused to give up, pushing himself through intense rehabilitation and physiotherapy. Today, he can walk with the help of a cane and is continuing to work on his mobility and strength with his coach Mo at Achieve Lifestyle.
Sean’s story is a testament to the human spirit and the power of determination. Despite the challenges he faced, he remained optimistic and focused on his goal of regaining his mobility and independence. His experience also highlights the importance of having a strong support system, both in terms of medical care and emotional support. Mo at Achieve Lifestyle has been just that.
For anyone navigating through challenging times, Sean’s story serves as a reminder that we are capable of overcoming even the most difficult obstacles. With determination, perseverance, and support from those around us, we can emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before.
Achieving our best lifestyle.