Michael Rosen on coronavirus: I was so near to departing this planet

Michael Rosen said he was just hours from death when he was rushed to A&E with coronavirus.

The poet and author, 74, spent almost seven weeks in an induced coma on a ventilator after falling ill in March.

He told the Today programme: “I thought I was coping with a flu…  or that it was the coronavirus and I was going to be one of those people who experience it as a kind of flu.”

But things started “moving very, very quickly” when a neighbour, who is a GP, did an “oxygen saturation test… and suddenly it was, ‘You’ve got to go to A&E now’.”

He said of being “rushed” to A&E: “I don’t think I sensed, at that moment, that I was probably two or three hours off departing this planet.

“My respiratory system was conking out but so were my liver and kidneys and I didn’t know that but found out afterwards.”

Asked how he is now, the former Children’s Laureate told the Radio 4 programme: “The first word I think of to describe myself is feeble. My legs feel very, very feeble.

“I think of them as cardboard tubes full of porridge. When I ask them to do things they don’t do it. I’ve learnt how to walk with a stick and a bit without a stick.

“I can hear that my voice is a bit feeble as well and then I get tired very quickly. I’ve also lost some sight from my left eye and (hearing) from my left ear. So I feel a bit lopsided. Feeble and lopsided.”

Michael Rosen coronavirus battle
The children’s author said doctors gave him a ’50/50 chance’ (Ian West/PA)

The children’s author, whose books include We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, Little Rabbit Foo Foo and Chocolate Cake, has now returned from hospital and said being on a “knife edge” had changed him as a person.

“I was so near to going…. It’s a reminder of how life is very impermanent,” he said.

“I get these, not exactly nightmares, but recurring images… and I don’t really want them there but I can’t get rid of them.”

“I didn’t know about the seven weeks being in this induced coma until I came home and (his wife) Emma told me about it… I got quite upset about it…. That’s full of emotion for me, that people were just hanging in there.”

Rosen will not be writing about the experience just yet, saying: “I usually allow these more traumatic things to sit about for a bit.”

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