Michael Rosen has finally made it back home after going into intensive care with Covid-19 at the end of March.
The award-winning and popular poet and children’s author began charting his illness on Twitter in March, writing of “bed-breaking shakes” and “freezing cold sweats”, of “deep muscle exhaustion” and the “image of war hero biting on a hankie, while best mate plunges live charcoal into the wound to cauterise it”. He went into intensive care at the end of the month, with his family warning that he was “very poorly” at the time.
It took 47 days for him to leave ICU, but on 6 June he took his first steps, and by 12 June he was back on Twitter, jauntily sharing his progress as he began walking again. “Just as I was beginning to love my stick, Sticky McStickstick, I’m told, ‘You mustn’t become totally stick-reliant.’ Oh noooooooo!!!” he wrote on 22 June. “This wasn’t a snide dig at the physios! They are progressives. They see me walking the corridors with Sticky McStickstick, then walking a bit without, so they want me to go on. Quite right. Physios are the best!”
This morning, his wife, Emma-Louise Williams, shared a picture of him at home on his balcony, sun hat on head and cuppa and geraniums on the table in front of him.
“I’ve survived! And came home yesterday,” wrote Rosen himself on Twitter, thanking the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “for your goodwill message when I went into intensive care”. He also responded to some of the thousands of messages from well-wishers celebrating his return home. Williams had warned a few days earlier that while Rosen was “doing some tweeting”, he was “not fully recovered yet”. She asked his followers: “pls don’t ask him to read & comment on your unpublished poems, record a short video message, take part in a Zoom meeting, write a blurb for your latest book or do any work of any kind.”
The 74-year-old author, performer and broadcaster is one of Britain’s most beloved writers, the author of more than 140 books including We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Little Rabbit Foo Foo, and children’s poetry including Chocolate Cake and Don’t. In 2004, he wrote Sad Book, about his grief following the sudden death of his son, Eddie, from meningitis in 1999. He held the position of children’s laureate from 2007 until 2009, and has also been a vigorous campaigner for less testing in schools and the necessity of school libraries.
Rosen has praised the “fantastic treatment” he has received from the NHS over the course of his illness. In 2008, he wrote a poem to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the national institution, opening: “These are the hands / That touch us first / Feel your head / Find the pulse / And make your bed”. The poem was also included in an anthology of poetry by NHS workers which launched to raise money for NHS Charities Together’s urgent Covid-19 appeal. In a foreword to that book, Rosen described the NHS as “a perfect symbol of how we can care for each other across a whole society”.