( UK: SOURCE: Daily Record News) – A former psychiatric nurse from Shotts was left stranded on Barbados after he contracted coronavirus and had to be hospitalised while on holiday.
Mike Delaney faced having nowhere to stay when he was discharged and had no idea of how or when he would be able to return to the UK.
He was reduced to tears however, after an overwhelming show of support from islanders who came to his rescue.
More than 100 people responded with offers of accommodation for him after the mother of a fellow patient told of his plight on Facebook.
Mike said: “It’s beautiful and makes the trauma of incarceration fade quicker. I cannot believe how lovely everyone has been. The medical staff and authorities here have been amazing.”
Despite being used to medical environments he admits that his stay in hospital was “quite traumatic”.
“I saw lots of people who were very ill, lots of tears, fear and heard screams”, he revealed.
“There was a gentleman in our group, who was maybe 70. He seemed fine then suddenly started coughing again. By the evening he was really bad and died overnight.
“It was as quick as that and quite a shock to us. It was another reminder about how strong this illness is. If it wants to take you, it will.”
Mike, who now works as an addiction therapist at a rehab centre, had travelled to the Caribbean island last month as an early 60th birthday celebration.
His fortnight-long break was extended indefinitely after he became unwell not long after his arrival.
He was diagnosed with COVID-19 and taken to a makeshift hospital at a military base on the island. Despite his condition stabilising the virus didn’t clear from his system for three weeks, and he was detained in hospital and unable to return home.
Mike is now out of hospital and remains in daily contact with the British Embassy, he is hopeful of returning home this week.
He said: “I was in such a precarious position but everyone has just rallied around me. I’ve been given this beautiful beach-front apartment to stay in, then somebody who runs a local shop arrived and filled my fridge. It was unbelievable. I started crying. I cannot believe how kind people have been.”
The former psychiatric nurse, who lives with his daughter and two grandchildren, retrained to become and addiction therapist after overcoming his own prescription and alcohol dependency issues. He recently helped launch Delamere rehab clinic in Cheshire, where he is clinical director, and has still been working remotely from Barbados.
He said: “I’ve started to do some work again offering remote consultations and supervision, but am surprised how quickly I tire still.
“I’ve had a lot of support from my colleagues at Delamere, which has remained open to help people throughout all of this. I’m really looking forward to getting back and being part of the team again.
“I drew a lot on my own experience as a therapist and someone in recovery to cope with my time in hospital and expect I’ll need to continue to do that as it all sinks in. It’s so important to recognise trauma and find a means to let it go.”
Barbados remains in strict lockdown with residents only allowed out on allocated days for shopping or essentials from the pharmacy.
Mike’s 60th is on Thursday and had been looking forward to a party with 120 guests before the pandemic took hold but that’s been the last thing on his mind.
He admitted: “I’m lucky to be here and lucky to be alive. I’m so grateful to everyone.”