A WELL-KNOWN former publican has told of his hospital ordeal in intensive care after catching Covid-19 and is urging people to follow the lockdown rules.
Barney Crapper, 77, of Normanby, has warned others to remain vigilant. “Covid is real, it’s horrible and it’s a potential killer – please follow the rules, believe me, you don’t want this,” he said.
Mr Crapper, who ran The Normanby pub, the bar at Wilton Golf Club and the former Nag’s Head (now The Joseph Pease) pub in Darlington, was taken to James Cook University Hospital by ambulance and was diagnosed with double pneumonia and Covid-19. He had two periods in the High Dependency Unit and was not allowed to see any family or friends.
Barney first became ill after returning from Benidorm. He had been on holiday with friends back in March when Spain went into lockdown with he and his friends coming home two days later.
“He didn’t want to call the doctor,” said Ann, who explained her husband had been laid up in bed coughing and with a fever. “But we have a friend who is a nurse and after 12 days she said, ‘just call an ambulance, don’t tell him.’”
The paramedics took Mr Crapper to hospital straight away.
“I woke up with two young ladies in my bedroom, which was a bit of surprise,” laughed Barney. “They were brilliant paramedics who were treating me in the ambulance. Next thing I was in the High Dependency Unit (HDU) with this dome thing over my head. I looked like Buzz Lightyear. To be honest, I was more worried about Ann at home.”
Ann explained that she wasn’t allowed to visit the hospital and, in any case, was in isolation at home, meaning she couldn’t have anyone round or visit anyone. “It was awful,” she said. “A part of me thought, ‘is the last time I see him? Him being taken to hospital with a mask on?’
“I had this one phone call to the hospital every day and then would tell everyone how he was doing. Eventually we got a mobile phone to him, which was much better.”
Barney was first diagnosed with double pneumonia and only later with Covid-19 which meant he had to have a second bout in the HDU. He was released from hospital after 17 days with a special diet to put on weight after losing a stone-and-a-half.
The father-of-two and granddad had to take ‘baby steps’ to walk, first the post box at the end of his street and then further and further. “When he took that first walk, people on the street came out to applaud him,” said Ann, Barney’s wife. “It was really lovely, we were so touched,” she said. “It felt like everyone was coming together at that time.”
Barney took time to praise all the healthcare workers. “They were all brilliant,” he said. “There was one nurse, Mia, who had been out of nursing for ten years and came back just to help. She was excellent. They all were. It was hard, they were forever having to change the PPE equipment which made everything twice as difficult.”
After a lot of hard work Barney has rebuilt his fitness but both he and Ann have simple message for people – please follow the rules.
“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” said Barney. “You might think, ‘well, I haven’t got it and I don’t know anyone who has.’ But let me assure you – this is real. It is horrible and it’s a killer. You really don’t want it and you don’t want to give it to anyone else. Please get checked out, don’t leave it like I did, and keep your hands clean and keep your distance. If someone gets near to you in a queue or somewhere, just move a bit further away. Please stay safe.”