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'I have a lot of life left to live': Recovered patient shares her experience of COVID-19

After falling ill with coronavirus (COVID-19), retired teacher Shian Segelov from Woolston, Southampton was admitted to University Hospital Southampton last month. Now recovered, Shian now hopes to save others from the virus by volunteering as part of our vaccination trial. 

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The former head of art at Redbridge Community School described her symptoms as developing without warning.  

She said: “I just thought I had the flu but I went down so fast, overnight. I felt a bit tired, I had aching muscles and a bit of a temperature. Then I went down with a very dry cough. I had absolutely no energy. I crawled upstairs to bed.” 

Shian’s friends and family became increasingly concerned for her health and eventually made the decision to call for an ambulance.  

“I could see the blue flashing lights outside, but I didn’t think the ambulance was for me." 

Once admitted to our general intensive care unit (GICU), Shian was intubated and ventilated for nine days. Talking about the experience, Shian said: “I wasn’t here. I was in some strange trippy nightmare; a frightening world.  

“I was plugged into things with lots of drugs and a tube down my throat to my stomach. I kept being moved onto my back, front and side as I was coming round, but it felt like I was hallucinating. And then when I came round, I was being tended to.” 

As a nurse, Shian’s sister phoned the ward regularly to check on her progress and relayed the information to friends and family. 

Shian’s sedation was gradually reduced as she recovered, and she began rehab with the therapy team. This started with sitting on the edge of the bed and progressed slowly to being able to stand. 

“All the staff were amazing – they saved my life. I had a lot of one-to-one support. They were so attentive to everybody’s needs, so kind and so giving of themselves.”  

Now recovering at home, Shian continues to build her strength daily with the support of her local community.  

“I’m so lucky. I have a lot of life left to live and I’ve got so many beautiful people around me. Two of my neighbours even deep-cleaned my house for me and another repaired my gate and cut my grass. 

“I know I had a lust for life before but it's going to be ten times that now. I don’t know how I’m going to squeeze it all in.” 

Shian is now keen to help us in the fight against the virus as part of the COVID-19 vaccine trial. She said: “This experience has changed my life. Hopefully someone will benefit from the information and results I can provide.”  

The pioneering trial received an overwhelming response and has successfully recruited enough volunteers to trial the vaccine in Southampton.  

Professor Saul Faust, director of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility at UHS said: “Those joining the trial will be playing a critical role in the global search for a vaccine that protects us all, not least frontline NHS workers, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.” 

For more information on the trial, visit the covid19vaccinetrial.co.uk/volunteer