Pamela & Bobby’s Story

Pamela’s Story

“I was taken to the hospital. I thought that I’d arrived at a spaceship.”

Prior to Covid, I was everybody’s go to. So, if you needed something doing, you needed a hand with something or you wanted to go to an event, you would speak to Pamela and I would organise everything. I would help you move house; I would watch your kids; I would cook meals for you if you were ill; I would do everything for anybody. I walked miles every day, I worked full time… I was a Senior Child Development Officer, which was a busy, busy job, and just loved life, loved it to the full.

“I was vomiting. I vomited for four days and couldn’t keep water down. So I called my GP and he said “You’ve got Covid. You need to go for a test… I think you’ve got Gastric Covid. Go for a test” That evening, 11 pm my husband called 999, unbeknown to me. He said there would be an ambulance coming for me.”

“I was taken to the hospital. I thought that I’d arrived at a spaceship. All these people were dressed in gowns and headgear and masks and shields. It was just unbelievable. And from that moment I don’t remember another thing.”

“The awful news they were given. I’d had a stroke, I wasn’t gonnae survive, my kidneys had failed. My heart was under strain. My lungs weren’t working. I’d two blood clots in my lungs. My lungs collapsed and I was just at death’s door. So these poor boys and my husband had to hear this day after day, which is just awful.”

 

Pamela & Bobby at the Turban Tandoori, Giffnock, photograph by Wes Kingston

“Then somebody came into my room, I remember this girl, and I said to her I was lost and I was crying and I didn’t know where I was and she said I was in hospital and that I had Covid and I said, ‘I can’t move.’ and she said, “You can’t move because you’ve been in a coma for a long time and your muscles aren’t working.” Then she said, “Buzz if you need us.” But I thought, ‘How can I buzz? I can’t move!’ And then this young guy came in, a nurse, and I was crying again and he said, “Oh why are you sad?” I said, ‘Well, I’m supposed to buzz if I need something. But I can’t buzz. I can’t move.’ And he said, “I’m your nurse. I’m here to help you. Don’t you worry.” And he put a buzzer beside my shoulder and he put my arm over at my shoulder. And he said, “I’m putting your finger on this button, and if you need me, try and push your finger. Tell your brain it has to push your finger, and try and push it.” So I tried and tried and eventually when I needed help, I managed it. And this guy came back. He was my saviour. I’ll never, never forget him. He’s just wonderful.”

“I had an amazing physio team looking after me who would come in and sing and dance and get me out of bed with these big machines.”

“It was torture, absolute torture. Some days I cried. Some days I said no and they would say, “Well, we’re coming back in an hour. We’re getting you out that bed.” And thankfully, they’ve helped me get back to a bit of strength and I can use my muscles and I can walk about.”

“And I’m lucky that I’ve survived. Lots of people didn’t make it and I feel heart sorry for them, I really do. I’m so sad for them. I’m so lucky.”

“Because I couldn’t go and help I sat and made a list one day. I thought, ‘How can I help?’ So I decided to phone older people or people that I knew lived on their own. And every fortnight, I would give them a call and just try and lift their spirits. I thought that’s the only thing I can do.”

Testimony of Pamela Bell, Covid patient
Photography by Wes Kingston
Interview and transcription by Frances McKissock

Bobby’s Story

“Right, what can I do to help?”

“[There’s] a local restaurant in Giffnock, the Turban Tandoori, where we go for meals quite regularly; we became very friendly with them, over the years we’ve known they are very, very kind with donations, community charity work that kind of thing. Early on, just as Lockdown started, the 23rd of March 2020, Bobby actually phoned me. He says, “Right, what can I do to help?” He says, “We are closing this week on the 27th… I would like that night for all the NHS to get a free meal.” Anybody who had a NHS badge was able to phone and get a delivery or pick the meal up.”

“We decided that what was needed was restrooms, for particularly, the intensive care staff, when the pressures were so tough at the very beginning. So they asked me, with the cash donation, could I source like bean bags, coffee machines, a microwave… we made up pamper packs. Everyone was washing and showering more often because of the infection, so the donation from the Turban Tandoori was very, very appreciated.”

“Bobby and Peter from the Turban asked me if I could speak to the hospital, and what they did was, they cooked enough food for at least 80 – 100 night shift staff.”

“At that time, Covid had taken quite an incline with numbers and the infection rate was really high again and I said to him, looking round the wards, as much as I didn’t work in the wards, the staff morale was really low. There was nurses crying on every shift, there were doctors on their knees and I says, ‘You know the only thing really that I think that could really help, might feel small but actually massive, was could we maybe provide like cold drinks, snacks, chocolate bars?’ Because nine times out of ten the staff weren’t even getting a tea break, never mind a toilet break. So, I just thought the Turban Tandoori were going to give me a van load of goodies for the NHS and of course the Turban Tandoori says, “Right how many wards are in the Queen Elizabeth?” and I went, ‘Let me check that out; so there are 58 wards between maternity, care of the elderly, neuro, and the main building.’ “Right 58 wards that’s fine.” So they worked it out and they delivered an artic lorry load of the stuff to the hospital.”

“Do you know the Turban Tandoori, they’re just are very community orientated. If they think there’s somebody in their local area that they can help, whether it’s a cancer charity or a kidney research, whatever it is; do you know they have so many thank you cards up in their restaurant from people they’ve helped over the years.” – Eileen

“They sent an articulated lorry to the hospital with my name on it, saying these are gifts from Pamela Bell. And they sent all the staff chocolate, crisps, juice and hand cream. And this truck had £7,700 worth o’ gear in it for the staff. And what a treat that was.” – Pamela

Bobby Purewal’s story told by Eileen Murray & Pamela Bell
Photography by Wes Kingston
Interviews by Frances McKissock
Transcriptions by Frances McKissock & Erin Love

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