John Gulliver: Letters to the Land of Nod

Michael Rosen's search for Covid nurse

Thursday, 21st April

Michael Rosen and Monique

Michael Rosen with nurse Monique

MICHAEL Rosen is hoping to be reunited with a nurse who wrote a moving message to him as he lay in his Covid coma at the Whittington.

Beth was one of several nurses who looked after the celebrated children’s author during his 48 days in intensive care at the Highgate hospital.

The Great Ormond Street Hospital nurse had been sent to help at the Whittington during the first peak of the pandemic in 2020.

She wrote about how she was looking forward to meeting Mr Rosen as he had written her favourite book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

The letter noted: “You are starting to move little bits which is excellent. Hope you continue this excellent progress!”

Mr Rosen has compared his time in the ward to the Land of the Dead in a nod to Books 10 and 11 from Homer’s Odyssey. Some 42 per cent of patients on the ward died. Despite the chaos, staff continued the practice of writing touching letters to patients at the end of gruelling shifts.

The letter nurse Beth wrote to Mr Rosen

Now recovered, he told me this week: “There are quite a few nurses who looked after me over the 48 days I was in intensive care and I’ve got letters from a lot of them. This is one letter for one day. “I have the whole diary. I’ve shown it on TV a couple of times, actually and there’s a selection of letters in my book about what happened to me, including Beth’s letter.”

Mr Rosen spoke at a Penguin Books launch of his Many Different Kinds of Love a fortnight ago on stage with another Whittington nurse, Monique.

She told him: “We always try to keep a patient diary for all the patients. During Covid it was difficult to fill it out, but I would do it at the end of the shift. If it’s a special day like your birthday I’d point that out. It’s more for the patient but also the relatives. I look after patients like they are my relatives.”

One diary entry said how 15 staff on the intensive care unit had on one day “treated you to a rendition of happy birthday”.

Monique recalled: “I think from your reaction you did hear us. You certainly seemed to be different when we weren’t singing.”

Mr Rosen said he might have preferred the Stevie Wonder version of the song, to which Monique replied: “Next time!”

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