A Covid-19 patient's diary – 15 days in intensive care as told by NHS nurses

Nick Martens spent five weeks in the Whittington Hospital suffering from Covid-19

Nick Martens spent five weeks in the Whittington Hospital suffering from Covid-19 - Credit: Nick Martens/PA

"I remember nothing of those 15 days - there's just this diary which the nurses left by by my bedside."

Nick Martens was admitted to the Whittington Hospital with Covid-19 in early June. He spent five and a half weeks there, including 15 days in intensive care. 

During his time in intensive care, the nursing team looking after him did something they do for all of their patients – they wrote a diary for him, keeping track of his care and his condition. 

Nurses wrote to Nick Martens while he was unconscious during his fight with Covid-19

'Hi Nic, It's me Carlo, your nurse for today...' Nurses wrote to Nick Martens while he was unconscious during his fight with Covid-19 - Credit: Nick Martens

The 70-year-old wants to share the diary, which he was given at the end of his stay, to pay tribute to the medics who kept him alive – something that was at times by no means a sure thing.  

Nick, who lives near the hospital, told the Ham&High: "I had not seen anything like it to be honest.

"The [hospital] is absolutely amazing. The doctors were amazing. The nurses were amazing. I could just wax lyrical about the care I received all day."

Nick Martens in a check shirt and flat cap

Nick Martens wanted to pay tribute to the Whittington Hospital staff who saved his life - Credit: Nick Martens

A Whittington Health spokesperson said: "We are pleased to hear that Mr Martens continues to recover following his time with us and we’re proud to have been there for him when he needed us.

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"His case serves as a reminder to everyone of how serious Covid-19 can be which is why it is so important that everyone gets the protection of two doses of Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible.”

The patient diary written by Nick's nurses during his time in intensive care is presented below – it has been edited for brevity, but the words remain the nurses' own.

June 10 - day shift

Hello Nicholas

My name is Maybelle, your nurse for today. This is your second day here with us in the critical care unit. You remain to have a breathing tube connected to the breathing machine. 

We are doing the best we can to help you keep fighting. I will pray for your recovery.


The Whittington Hospital turned blue for the NHS' 72nd birthday. Picture: Whittington Health

Nick, who lives yards from the Whittington, was in serious danger of dying of Covid-19 - Credit: Archant

June 10 - night shift

Hi Nicholas

My name is Wincey. I am looking after you tonight.

I was helping her Wednesday night. And tonight I get the chance to look after you. Your oxygenation somehow improved after putting you on the ventilator. 

Unfortunately it was not a very good night for you. You remain very unwell at present. I hope today will be a better day for you Nicholas. I will pray for your recovery just continue to hang in there. We are all doing our best to help you get through with this.

God bless.


June 13 - night shift

Hi Nicholas. I wonder if they call you Nick or it's just Nicholas.

It's me again Wincey, your nurse for tonight. 

I must say for the past night shifts I have looked after you. This is the most stable night you have had. I hope this will carry on but we must just take it day by day. In reality, you will have good and some not so good days but that's OK  - as long as you are still here and fighting.

I wonder what the sound of your voice is like

Keeping you in my prayers


Nick spent many years as a postal worker

Nick spent many years as a postal worker - Credit: Nick Martens

June 16 - day shift

Hi Nick

My name is Sophie and I'm the nurse looking after you today.

You remain on the ventilator with the breathing tube in your mouth – however today we have managed to wean down your oxygen and the amount of support the ventilator is giving you which is really good.

We have also reduced the amount of sedation we are giving you and although you remain very sleepy you have just been able to squeeze my hands when I asked you to, and you have been able to nod and shake your head to me when I've been speaking to you which, although it may seem like a small thing, is an amazing achievement considering how unwell you have been.


June 18 - night shift

Hi Nicholas

I'm looking after you tonight. You are still on a ventilator and improving slowly, day by day. You are on a sedation and may not remember me, but the most important thing is you and it is a pleasure to take care of you. Your ventilator settings needs adjustment during the night. Our doctors are still seeing you as well. So good luck, hope you will have a speedy recovery. God bless.

Carlo A

The staff room mural is superman-NHS inspired. Picture: Submitted by Mumtaz Mooncey

A mural paying tribute to superhero Whittington Hospital staff in 2020. Nick Martens couldn't speak highly enough of the medics who cared for him - Credit: Archant

June 19 - day shift

Hi Nicholas

I'm Sheila and looking after you for the first time today. It's a Saturday and not the best weather in London as it's been rainy/drizzling outside. 

You appear to be comfortable and after the wash I put on some music for you. I hope you did not mind me choosing a variety of music. I played The Supremes, and some blues and 70s hits just to mix it up a little for you. I do hope the music helps relax you. You remain quite ill and do need quite a lot of support. We will continue to work together to help you through this so be patient.

I wish you all the best recovery.



Intensive care patients at the Whittington receive a Patient Diary - composed by their carers

Intensive care patients at the Whittington receive a Patient Diary - composed by their carers - Credit: Nick Martens

June 21 - day shift

Hi Nicholas

It is a pleasure looking after you today. We are hoping to remove your breathing tube as soon as you are ready. I really hope you recover rapidly and when you read this diary, you will realise how sick you were.

I wish you all the best and am hoping that you remain strong in this fight.


June 22 - day shift

Hello Nick

It's Sophie the nurse looking after you again today.

You should be very proud of yourself. We have been able to take out the breathing tube and take you off the ventilator.

Wishing you a continued speedy recovery.


South Africa-born Nick Martens has lived in the UK for decades. Here he is pictured in happier times.

South Africa-born Nick Martens has lived in the UK for decades. Here he is pictured in happier times. - Credit: Nick Martens

June 22 - night shift

Hi Nicholas! I'm MJ your night nurse.

I am just ecstatic to see you doing so well after the great difficulty you've been through. You've been and still are quite disorientated after two weeks of induced sleep. Well I would probably be too! You told me as we conversed that you went on a very long sailing trip on a boat. I said that you are not the only one who shared that experience.

I am afraid I will be leaving you for now Nicholas. I hope you'll have a lovely and productive day. May you have a speedy recovery. I wish you all the best. God bless!!

Your Nurse


June 24 - day shift

Hi Nick

It's Dennis your nurse today.

You made a big progress and you're making good conversations with the doctors regarding your treatment plans. You also had a phone call to Tristan to surprise him about your transfer from ITU to Nightingale Ward.

I wish you well and be better every day.

Your nurse


The diary ends on June 24 – when Nick was transferred out of intensive care. Not all of the entries in his diary could be included here. They were written by Whittington nurses Dennis, Susile, Carlo A, MJ, Sophie, Sheik, Maria, Sheila, Meron, Wincey and Maybelle.