BEARSDEN woman Mary Cowan doesn’t remember much about last Christmas as she became very unwell - and later discovered she had contracted a life-threatening illness, swine flu.
Mary (60) recalls feeling so cold that despite wearing layers of clothes and being under a pile of blankets in bed she couldn’t warm up. Also that she slept for whole days and was so weak that she had to crawl up the stairs on her hands and knees to go back to bed.
Her sons were staying with her over the festive period but she didn’t see much of them as she was in her bed most of the time. She was reluctant to go into hospital because she had been there a lot recently with chronic asthma so she struggled on thinking that she just had flu and that she’d get better - but she got worse. Mary said: “My son made Christmas dinner and I managed to eat it but then slept most of the next day.
“My temperature had rocketed but I felt freezing, I was coughing and wheezing and my muscles ached.
“The following day I slept all day again but I called a doctor as I felt so terrible.
“When she arrived she wanted to admit me to hospital but I was reluctant so she prescribed me antibiotics and steroid inhalers.”
That evening Mary’s sons took her to A & E at The Western Infirmary and the doctor told her that she had all the symptoms of swine flu but didn’t arrange for her to be tested. There were no beds available and she became uncomfortable while waiting in a trolley in a side room and asked her son to take her home.
The next day her GP visited as she was worried about her and seeing how badly her condition had deteriorated she immediately had her admitted to the assessment unit for swine flu at The Western Infirmary. Mary said: “I could hardly breathe, there was a crackling noise coming from my chest. It was so loud that I didn’t realise it was coming from me! I’ve never felt so bad as that in my life.
“My friend phoned me and I told her I didn’t think I was going to make it. She said not to be so silly - but I actually thought I was going to die.”
Doctors in the hospital discovered that she had H1N1 influenza A and immediately after they got the results they shot into action. They worked on her all night to ensure that she had the best chance of recovery - she was given a drip, oxygen, a nebuliser, tamiflu and antibiotics and two members of staff were constantly with her throughout the night.
Quite soon after they began her coldness disappeared and by the next day she had made a miraculous recovery. She remained in isolation for a week and when her sons came to visit they had to wear masks, aprons and gloves, they were also given immunisation for swine flu. Then she was transferred to a ward for a further week.
She said: “If my GP hadn’t visited me I would probably have died in my bed at home.
“I wouldn’t have gone back to the hospital but she insisted on calling an ambulance for me.
“I don’t think I would be here today if it hadn’t been for her.
“I would say to anyone who suffers from chest problems to get themselves immunised against swine flu.”
Mary would like to thank all the medical staff at The Western Infirmary and at her GP surgery, Kessington Medical Centre in Bearsden.