Staff member in Cath Lab in scrubsStaff in scrubs in the Cath LabStaff in scrubs in the Cath Lab


Ready to go home after a long COVID battle

Austin Health patient, Paul Kalolo, was so ill with COVID, Intensive Care Nurse Consultant, Tammie McIntyre, wasn’t sure he’d make it.

“He nearly died but we weren’t going to give up on him,” she says.

“He was one of the sickest we’ve had.”

The 45-year-old personal trainer was admitted to ICU on the 10 October and spent six weeks in the unit.

“I’d felt under the weather for a few days and then I just couldn’t move,” Paul says.

“I don’t remember going into hospital and when I first woke up, I didn’t know where I was.

“Because I was asleep for so long, I couldn’t distinguish what was real and what wasn’t.”

He required intubation due to his shortness of breath, high oxygen requirements and respiratory fatigue.

“Paul had a complex admission with multiple complications due to infections, ICU myopathy and slow respiratory weaning, requiring a tracheostomy,” Tammie says.

He was discharged from ICU on the 18 November and moved to Austin Health’s respiratory high dependency unit.

His tracheostomy was removed last week, and while recovery will be long, he is quickly making gains.

“Paul couldn’t lift an arm off the bed and now he’s up walking and his balance is back,” Tammie says.

She believes his age and strength before falling ill are contributing factors to this.

Despite the lingering shortness of breath, weight and muscle mass loss, Paul says he’s feeling “really good” and will be discharged from hospital this week, to start his rehabilitation at home.

“I can do everything myself – I was definitely in the right place, that’s for sure,” he says.  

“The staff have been awesome.”

He’s looking forward to getting back into the kitchen when he can.

“I’ve got to take it slow, but I love to cook,” Paul says.

He was unvaccinated and his message for anyone undecided about vaccination is simple.

“Just get vaccinated – don’t wait, just do it,” Paul says.