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5 June 2020, 10:37 | Updated: 5 June 2020, 14:36
Smooth Radio’s Kate Garraway made an appearance on Good Morning Britain today, live from her back garden, to speak about her husband Derek Draper who has been in a coma for 10 weeks after contracting coronavirus.
While Kate has posted regular updates on her Instagram account, this is her first interview about the situation.
Kate explained: “He’s still with us, he has fought the most extraordinary battle and I hate the idea of fighting a battle because it is a battle, but the fact he’s still holding on, I hate the idea that other people haven’t fought hard enough.
“I’m just so grateful he’s still here. But he’s very, very sick… it’s affected him from the top of his head to the tip of his toes.”
On how she’s coping, Kate said: “Very early on, I spoke to Piers [Morgan] and he said, ‘Right, come on Garraway, you’re a journalist this is the story of your life. You’re focused on Derek, you’ve got to get all the information you can’. And that actually really helped because I thought ‘I’ve got a job’.
“Because we’re in free-fall. I’ve got a job – to fight for Derek, keep life safe for Darcey and Billy and that forced me into that ‘Breaking news mode’. When something awful happens and you’re on air, you need to not think about the emotion of it, you have to think about doing your job. I rode that for weeks and weeks and weeks.”
She added: “Then two weeks ago, I crashed, because you can’t stay like that forever. I have huge hope and massive positivity and I’ll never give up on that, because Derek’s the core of my life and our lives. But at the same time, I have absolute uncertainty… and the doctors don’t know.
“One doctor said to me that he’s the worst affected person he’s had to treat that’s lived. Thank God he’s lived so far and I’m so grateful for that. They’re looking at damage to his body… but they don’t know what this is. It’s an evil virus.
“The damage he’s sustained, we don’t know what effect that will have on him, is incredibly rare. Some of what he’s got, the doctors have said there’s only five people they’ve seen it in, although there may be more.... This is a war which Derek is fighting.”
Kate went on to say it’s a “miracle” Derek is still here and added she wanted “just one more and he could make that next step”.
Talking about Derek falling ill, Kate revealed: “Derek had had a painful shoulder for months and had had scans for that and just before lockdown, he was going to have steroid injections but it was cancelled and he was miserable with the pain and was homeschooling.
“On the Friday, I got back and said ‘You don’t look right, babe’. And he said ‘I think it’s the painkillers’. I took his temperature and he didn’t have that or a cough. He thought he had sinusitis.”
Kate added: “I rang the GP and we got some antibiotics and over the weekend, we were talking to each other, but no real feeling it was Covid because there was no cough or temperature. Then, on Monday, I came home from Smooth Radio, and he said ‘I don’t feel well, I’ve got a splitting headache, numbing in my hand and I’m struggling to breathe’.
“I’d tried to get through on 111, so I thought, ‘I’m going to call Dr Hilary’ and he talked to Derek and he did some breathing tests to test capacity and I’ll never forget it, he said ‘Put me back onto Kate’. ‘I think you need to call the ambulance’. So I said, ‘Ok’.
“I was scared, the ambulance came, two lovely women and did a thumb test and said we need to take him to hospital straight away, [Derek] still didn’t have a temperature or a cough.”
View this post on Instagram
No official #clapforcarers tonight but we just wanted have our own mini one as our heart felt thanks go on to all fighting to keep Derek with us. Tomorrow I will have the chance to update you & thank you for all your support on @gmb - see you at seven. #hope #staypositive
Recalling an emotional moment, Kate continued: “We helped him down the stairs and they put him in the ambulance and put a mask on him to breathe and he said to Darcey and Billy ‘You’re the best children anyone could ask for, be good to Mum, look after her’. [He] went into hospital and initially went straight to intensive care and in that first week, it looked like he was rallying.
“The doctors were very positive… but he was begging me saying ‘I feel like I’m suffocating, please let them put me in a coma’. I said, ‘No, the doctors say you can wait because your lungs can work’. Then on the Sunday morning, they rang me up and the doctor said ‘We’re going to put him in a coma’.
“He told me, ‘I love you, I’m sorry I have to leave you’. And I said, ‘It’s only for three or four days, it’s good, it’s what you wanted’. He said, ‘You’ve saved my life. I think he thought I’d persuaded the doctors to put him in a coma, and he said ‘I think you’ve saved my life, I don’t mean just now, I mean being married to you and the children and everything’.”
Speaking from her London home, Kate was then asked if the doctors knew why Derek had been so badly affected.
Kate said: “We don’t, he had none of the underlying health concerns. He just got it very, very, very badly and we don’t know why. When you speak to the doctors, there’s so many things they tell you about to help you understand what he’s going through. There’s various markers that tell you how much infection is in his body when it was really raging.
“At one point, he was being transferred to a different hospital, there’s an enzyme the liver produces which goes up when you’re fighting infection, healthy it would be under 10, if it goes up to 200 then you’re really sick. When Derek was admitted to the second hospital, he was 1286.
“He was off the scale with infection. His lungs were solid and nobody thought he’d live. So it’s just extraordinary he’s still here, I’m so proud of him and most of all, the doctors and nurses around him are just incredible. They’re incredible with what they’ve done, with a disease they’re learning about every day.”
Talking about her children, Darcey and Billy, keeping her on her feet, Kate said: “They’ve been absolutely amazing… from finding moments to laugh. I’m very aware I’ve been sad and anxious and focused on Derek and I think I need to make them safe, they’ve lost, for the time being, their Dad and he’s their world so they need to see their Mum is okay. They’ve been amazing.
“They’ve been doing so many things. Just before lockdown, the last weekend Derek was well, Darcey said ‘Shall we go to the garden centre and get vegetables? The supermarkets are going to run out of food’. So I don't know if you can see but there are loads of vegetables. Without even telling me, one day in the first couple of weeks Derek was sick, she dug up an area which I hadn't planned to be dug up and planted loads and loads of vegetables and it's so fantastic we have actually started to eat them.
“And she grew radishes and said ‘I don't even like radishes, I grew them for Dad’ and he still isn't better. And I said I know, but we can plant more and he will be glad that we have done it.
“They do loads of things. She knew I was talking to you this morning so she said we need to cut your hair and she cut my hair. She is so practical.”
On time with her children, Kate said: “There is no school. We have not really had any timescale. We have not been living normal hours of the day so when it was really hot she was like, ‘We need a paddling pool – let's put it together’. So we were in the paddling pool at 11pm at night. Sorry neighbours!
“Anything to just try and find little moments of joy, so they can see that even if this is going on, we can still smile about it and that is Derek’s big thing actually. He said, ‘You have got to laugh, got to laugh, you have got to be silly’. Sometimes it would drive me mad actually and would think, ‘This is really inappropriate to be silly, but actually it has kind of helped’. I’ve had to be strong for them and they have to be strong for me.”
Kate spoke more about the lighter moments, adding: “There was a brilliant, ridiculous moment when Derek was obviously stuck in the coma and it wasn’t the three to five days that we had hoped and Darcey did the thing that teenagers do – was on the internet looking up things about coma and she said, ‘Mum, I was just reading about Covid. Sometimes when people come out of a coma they have completely different accents. One woman could speak fluent Mandarin’.
“And we were hysterical about the idea of Derek waking up really posh with a posh accent or suddenly speaking Mandarin. And I saw the look of relief that she was laughing and she said, ‘Mum, it’s going to be okay’. Billy was furious actually. He said, ‘I don’t want him to have a posh accent, I want him to talk Geordie!’”
On Billy going back to school on Monday as he is in Year Six, Kate explained Derek always did the school run and that Billy had said, ‘I don’t want to go back before Dad’s better. I need Dad, I need Dad to do it’. And I said, ‘Well what would Dad say?’ And Darcy has offered to get him some cool clothes.”
Kate added: “He is going back on Monday and that is what we have to do now. With Derek we don’t know if he can recover. The Doctors talk in double negatives. You have to take comfort from the double negatives. They say ‘We can’t say he can’t recover, we don't know if he can recover and we don’t know how long it will take’.
“So from that you take terrible uncertainty and have to find good in it. You say to yourself, ‘There is hope and possibility’. They don’t know how long and they say we are talking weeks and months. One doctor said it could be up to a year which feels unthinkable, but we are praying there will be progress before then.”
On the positives, Kate said: “He is now Covid-free, so he’s testing negative for the Covid-19 virus, so the fight with the virus has been won and he’s still here, but it’s wreaked extraordinary damage on his body and we don’t know if he can recover from that.”
Speaking about the support she’s received, Kate said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by how lovely everybody has been – everybody watching the show, thank you so much.
“I know I haven’t got back to you all and even really close friends of Derek and mine I haven’t responded to yet but I’m going to and people have just been amazing and it just makes a massive difference… you see a lot of really good in people in the midst of all this.”
The whole Smooth and Global family send our love and support to Kate and her family at this difficult time, and continue to wish for Derek's recovery.