Nearly 40 days on a ventilator. A tracheotomy. Forty-five pounds lost. Countless hours of physiotherapy.
And now, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and flashbacks.
COVID-19 ravaged Paul Hemsing’s body and left him with deep physical and emotional scars.
“Frightening, exhausting, scary,” he recalled, struggling to put words to his trauma. “The fear of whether you were going to survive or not or whether you are going to see your loved ones again.”
Hemsing — who owns a hair salon in Medicine Hat, Alta., with his husband — went to the gym three or four times a week and was otherwise healthy. The 51-year-old scrambled to get his vaccination the first day his age group became eligible in April.
But COVID-19 found him anyway.
He contracted the virus in May before he could get his second shot. Nine days after testing positive, Hemsing was rushed to hospital with dangerously low oxygen levels. He was quickly admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) where he was intubated within hours.
“I was unresponsive,” he said. “They said that I was in such severe shock that I would have passed away.”
That was the beginning of the nightmare. Hemsing was kept alive in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator for 39 days — the longest any COVID-19 patient has been intubated at the Medicine Hat hospital. But even after coming off the ventilator, he wasn’t out of the woods. His husband estimates he was in ICU for about 45 days total.
The average ICU stay for a COVID-19 patient in Alberta is 10 to 12 days.
Hemsing spent a total of about 10 weeks in hospital. That includes a second admission for hospital-acquired pneumonia after he was initially sent home for three days in July.
WATCH | Paul Hemsing walks for the 1st time after battling COVID-19:
‘I could see terror in her eyes’
At first, Hemsing had no memories of his time in intensive care.
But he now has dark flashbacks.
At one point, doctors woke him from the coma as they tried — unsuccessfully — to take him off the ventilator. His 22-year-old daughter was watching anxiously from behind a glass wall.
She recently showed him a photo she snapped at that moment inside the ICU.
“Instantly, the memory of that came back to me,” Hemsing said. “I remember her waving and smiling. And I could see that her smile was fake and I could see terror in her eyes.”
He saw his husband, Michael, there, too.
“My daughter said, ‘You just kept on mouthing over and over again: I love you, I love you, I love you.’ Because I thought I was going to die.”
Hemsing’s long ICU stay was riddled with complications. He went into cardiac arrest twice and required resuscitation. It also took doctors several attempts to bring him out of his coma and take him off the ventilator.
“You panic. I tried to grab and pull the tube out of my throat,” he recalled.
The ICU team performed a tracheotomy — common practice for patients who have been on a ventilator for prolonged periods. The scar on his neck is a constant reminder.
Emerging from fog of sedation
Once doctors were able to take Hemsing off the ventilator, it took about five days for him to emerge from the fog of sedation.
“You experience very severe hallucinations. That was a really mentally scary time because you were foggy and groggy and you were seeing snakes and spiders. I was very panicked.”
The hallucinations eventually waned and he became more aware of his surroundings.
“That was probably the scariest time because I couldn’t use my arms or my legs. I had lost almost 50 pounds of muscle mass. My vision had changed. Everything was blurry,” he said.
“I couldn’t talk because I had a tracheotomy. I couldn’t use my hands to write or ask for anything. So the only way I could communicate was yes or no with my head.”
He was also experiencing intense pain from a large pressure wound he developed while in the coma.
“I had an eight-inch long, three-inch wide, two and a half inch deep pressure wound on my butt. Like a bed sore,” he explained.
“I couldn’t sit in a wheelchair I was in such agony, even with the pain meds.”
Plastic surgeons operated three times to repair the wound, which became gangrenous at one point.
“It’s actually only been two weeks now since it has finally closed and left me with a forever, major scar going from the top of my waist to the bottom of my butt.”
His recovery involved weeks of intense physiotherapy to build enough strength to stand, walk and regain the use of his arms.
Sleep was elusive because Hemsing was afraid to close his eyes. “I remember thinking that if I fell asleep I might die.”
He also missed life milestones while he was hospitalized, including his son’s high school graduation.
‘It’s not like you go home and you’re better’
Hemsing, who was nicknamed “Miracle” by the doctors and nurses because he wasn’t expected to survive, has been home now for two months. But he is not the same.
At first, he said, “I couldn’t do anything, couldn’t hold anything, couldn’t cut a tomato or lettuce, couldn’t prepare a meal, couldn’t play the piano hardly at all. It was a lot of time in bed.”
He also couldn’t stop crying.
“It was very dark because your whole life changes. You lose your entire life.”
Hemsing still struggles with PTSD brought on by the traumatic time in the ICU. He is also plagued by neuropathy, a condition causing numbness, pain and tingling in his hands, feet and tongue. And he can only work for a few hours a day.
“When you get sick with this, it’s not like you go home and you’re better,” he said. “You go home and you heal for months and months and months.”
Hemsing, who is now running for Medicine Hat city council, wants unvaccinated Albertans to know the terrifying details of his ordeal.
He wasn’t yet eligible for his second shot when he became ill, but with the vaccine now widely available, he’s urging people who haven’t yet had their shots to get them.
“I’m 100 per cent hoping I can help another one person even, that they won’t have to go through this. And if you’re fully immunized … you won’t have to go through what I did.”
Australia must commit to carbon cuts to keep green energy advantage -Fortescue’s Forrest
Australia risks losing its advantage in the green energy revolution if its leaders don’t promptly commit to cutting carbon emissions by 2050, the country’s richest man, Fortescue Metals Group founder Andrew Forrest said on Monday.
Forrest, who grew Fortescue from a minnow to rival the world’s biggest mining giants in less than two decades, has spearheaded his company’s global green energy drive, signing deals from Brazil to Indonesia to Democratic Republic of Congo.
The company aims to build a 250 megawatt hydrogen electrolyser at Bell Bay in Tasmania — 25 times the size of the biggest existing electrolysers in the world — for less than A$1 billion ($740 million), Forrest said, putting a price on the project for the first time.
Fortescue is ready to make a final investment decision this year, as promised, but is waiting for support from the state government before going ahead with the project.
While Forrest told Reuters that Australia is the best place to realise his green vision, the country’s failure to commit to a policy to cut emissions is risking that advantage.
“I would say 2050 neutrality is a certainty for Australia. If we support it by COP26 the dividend flow to regional Australia will be substantial. If we don’t support it by COP26, the future will remain uncertain,” Forrest said, referring to the COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow at the end of October.
“The renewable energy, green hydrogen, green ammonia, green electricity industry is very, very mobile,” he said.
“It is where the will is strongest – they will be the first to be developed.”
Australia’s energy policy is again in the spotlight as Prime Minister Scott Morrison prepares to attend the conference, where global leaders will meet to set further climate goals to follow on from the landmark 2015 Paris accord.
But Morrison is short on updated climate ambitions to bring to the table given his reliance on the junior partner in Australia’s coalition government which said it would not be rushed into a decision on whether to support a target of net zero emissions by 2050.
The Nationals who represent coal and farming heartlands worry that stronger emissions targets will cost jobs. Coal is the country’s second biggest export earner.
But Forrest, speaking to Reuters from London, said that rural Australians were set to be the biggest winners in the move to green energy – if agreements are made in time.
“I have demonstrated investment into the regions despite the fact Australia is dragging the chain,” Forrest told Reuters.
Fortescue is investigating the potential to convert top Australian fertiliser maker Incitec Pivot’s Brisbane ammonia plant to use green hydrogen as a feedstock instead of natural gas, with an on-site electrolysis plant that will produce up to 50,000 tonnes of hydrogen a year.
The plant’s future had been under threat due to soaring gas prices, however setting up a green hydrogen production site to feed the existing plant could save 400 jobs and create many more, Forrest said.
At the same time, the product from the plant will be cheaper for local farmers.
“So farmers in Australia long into the future can plan for the next season, or even for the next generation … knowing that fertilisers are coming from a hydrogen molecule that is infinite,” Forrest said.
(Reporting by Melanie Burton and Sonali Paul; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
Russian filmmakers back on Earth after shoot aboard space station – World News – Castanet.net
A Soyuz space capsule carrying a cosmonaut and two Russian filmmakers has landed after a 3 1/2-hour trip from the International Space Station.
The capsule, descending under a red-and-white striped parachute after entering Earth’s atmosphere, landed upright in the steppes of Kazakhstan on schedule Sunday with Oleg Novitskiy, Yulia Peresild and Klim Shipenko aboard.
Actress Peresild and film director Shipenko rocketed to the space station on Oct. 5 for a 12-day stint to film segments of a movie titled “Challenge,” in which a surgeon played by Peresild rushes to the space station to save a crew member who needs an urgent operation in orbit. Novitskiy, who spent more than six months aboard the space station, is to star as the ailing cosmonaut in the movie.
After the landing, which sent plumes of dust flying high in the air, ground crews extracted the three space flyers from the capsule and placed them in seats set up nearby as they adjusted to the pull of gravity. They were then taken to a medical tent for examination.
All appeared healthy and cheerful. Peresild smiled and held a large bouquet of white flowers as journalists clustered around her. But she said she also felt a touch of melancholy.
“I’m feeling a bit sad today. It seemed that 12 days would be a lot, but I did not want to leave when everything was over,” Peresild said on state TV.
The transfer to the medical tent was delayed for about 10 minutes while crews filmed several takes of Peresild and Novitskiy in their seats, which are to be included in the movie. More scenes remain to be shot on Earth for the film whose release date is uncertain.
Seven astronauts remain aboard the space station: Russia’s Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov; Americans Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur; Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency; and Japan’s Aki Hoshide.
$10bn James Webb Space Telescope unpacked in Kourou – BBC News
Engineers have unboxed the James Webb Space Telescope in French Guiana and will now prepare it for launch.
The $10bn successor to the Hubble observatory arrived at Europe’s Kourou spaceport five days ago after being shipped from the US.
It’s now been relieved of its transport container and raised into the vertical to allow preflight checks to begin.
JWST is one of the grand scientific projects of the 21st Century and will ride to orbit on 18 December.
An Ariane-5 rocket will throw the telescope out to an observing position about 1.5 million km from Earth.
From there, it will look deeper into the cosmos – and thus further back in time – than is possible with Hubble.
It will do this with a much bigger mirror (6.5m in diameter versus 2.4m) and instruments that are tuned to the infrared.
Scientists hope this set-up can detect the light from the very first population of stars in the Universe to switch on more than 13.5 billion years ago.
JWST is a joint venture between the US (Nasa), European (Esa) and Canadian space agencies (CSA).
It’s taken more than three decades from the original conception to get to this point.
Final assembly and testing was completed in August at the Northrop Grumman factory in Redondo Beach, California, after which the telescope was made ready for a 16-day, 2,500km journey by sea to French Guiana, a trip that took the observatory through the Panama Canal.
Teams at Europe’s spaceport will first inspect JWST to confirm no damage was picked up in transit. The telescope will then be fuelled and mated to the Ariane 5.
Recent weeks have seen cargo planes arrive in French Guiana with the tools and support equipment needed to work on Webb over the coming weeks.
A key milestone in the preparations comes this Friday when another Ariane-5 is due to launch two communications satellites from Kourou. This has to take place to free up the launch table on which Webb’s rocket will be integrated.
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