Friday 21 July 2017

TV presenter Charlie Webster 'aware of a lot' during coma

By Lucy Mapstone

She said she tried to communicate with her family while in a coma.

Sports presenter Charlie Webster has said she suffers from panic attacks and revealed she was “aware of a lot” while in a medically induced coma last year after falling critically ill.

The TV star and Team GB ambassador contracted a rare form of malaria while in Rio for the Olympics after taking part in a 3,000-mile (4,828km) charity cycle ride to the Brazilian city. She became unwell during the opening ceremony of the Games.

Eight months on and having made nearly a full recovery, Charlie, 34, is pleased with her progress, but said she has now been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to experiencing the horrors of her life-threatening illness.

She told The Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine that “it came as a bit of a shock” to learn she was still suffering, although “the doctors said it’s normal”.

She said: “When you’ve been through what I have, your head can have problems processing it. People do find it difficult to understand.”

Charlie said that, despite being put into a medically induced coma, she was very much aware of what was going on around her and believes this has contributed to her panic attacks.

The former ITV sports presenter said: “They think, ‘You were in a coma. You weren’t aware of anything’, but actually I was. I was aware of a lot of it.

“At one point, I had a conversation with Death in my head. It was real. I’ve spoken to a counsellor since and she said I had to accept it was real, and not think, ‘Oh, was I dreaming there?’ Only then can I move on.”

She said: “I’d get very distressed and try to get out of the bed and end up flailing about.

“My family were told it was spasms, or involuntary movements, and I had to be actually tied down to the bed, but it wasn’t. I was trying to communicate that I was there. I was on all sorts of drugs, so I’d have hallucinations.”

Charlie said she would have preferred to have “been out of it for the whole thing”.

“I wouldn’t have these memories,” she said, adding that she was “completely conscious when my lungs collapsed”.

“I was panicking, aware that I couldn’t breathe. When I was bleeding, the pain was indescribable.

“I’ve never felt pain like it. It felt as if my body was eating itself.”

She described being “trapped” in her own body as “the most horrible feeling you can imagine”.

Charlie, who had dated Downton Abbey actor Allen Leech, previously said that she had 12 injections before her cycling trip, but was told by two different doctors that she did not need any medication for malaria.

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