Great Britain

Kate Garraway reveals husband Derek has said his first word since start of 214-day coronavirus battle — ‘pain’

KATE Garraway has revealed that her Covid-stricken husband has uttered his first word after 214 days in hospital — “Pain”.

Derek Draper, 53, mouthed it as doctors manipulated his body and sobbing Kate watched online.

Speaking exclusively to The Sun, the Good Morning Britain presenter told how that Derek Draper had uttered his first word since the end of March.

Kate also said the battling psychotherapist’s tracheotomy tube has been removed, and he is now able to breathe without a ventilator.

Agonisingly, Derek mouthed the word “pain” as doctors manipulated his body to prevent him seizing up — with sobbing Kate watching through FaceTime.

The popular star, 53, said: “It’s a case of trying to balance belief, hope, optimism with reality.

“But we have had a breakthrough which was both amazing yet ­heartbreaking.

“It happened when the nurses were moving Derek, as part of his treatment, to trigger the sensation of gravity because he's been horizontal for so long.

“Right from the beginning, when Derek couldn’t even open his eyes, the doctors and nurses have always talked to him to be respectful, and to try to trigger a response.

“As they were shifting him, they asked if he could feel anything — not expecting a response as he hadn’t previously. But suddenly he mouthed in a whisper, ‘Pain’.

“Obviously it’s so heart-wrenching that his first word was ‘pain’, but it is a huge breakthrough because it means he has been able to connect the feeling in his body to his brain and mouth.

“They called me straight after and I burst into tears. The staff told me later that they were so emotional as well.

“It breaks my heart that there may have been times that he’s been in terrible pain and wasn’t able to communicate it.

“But he’s said it twice now and I was there for the second one, watching him over FaceTime.

“That was so hard, but also amazing because I know the possible significance.

“Of course there’s a big difference between being able to say the word ‘pain’, and Derek being the Derek I know and love.

“But I feel in his eyes that he’s there, and that we just have to hold on in this grim battle.”

Despite the milestone developments, Kate remains decidedly cautious, and does not want to get too carried away.

With the couple’s two children, Darcey, 14, and Billy, 11, to consider, as well as the former spin doctor’s own elderly parents, there is still no long-term prognosis for recovery.

Nor can doctors say with any certainty how much further Derek will recover after being “universally affected” ­— meaning his lungs, heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas have all been hit by the virus.

The loving dad also remains in a form of coma called a PDOC (Prolonged Disorder of Consciousness).

Kate explained: “There’s a flash of his presence, and then he disappears again.”

She added: “The emotionally challenging thing is that we’re waiting now to see what happens next; somehow it’s even more agonising now there’s been this breakthrough.

“We have greater hope now, but also greater fear of him slipping back. There’s no precedent to this virus. Even now no one fully understands it and its long-term effects.

"There is no idea of timescale or any data as to how much he can recover or how long it will take.

“But the other significant change is that they’ve been able to remove his tracheotomy tube — which is very positive as it means his lungs have started to work and aren’t solid as they were before. But he still has a long way to go.

“Had this happened back in May, I’d have been jubilant, but now I know how slow the change is, and how quickly things can slip backwards. I’m trying to keep my hope in check.

“Derek still needs help with his breathing, especially at night, and is very, very weak.

"He is being given medicine and drugs to keep things functioning. The virus has left him type 1 diabetic — he had no diabetes before.”

Nurses manipulate Derek’s limbs and move him frequently to ensure he does not develop bed sores from staying static for so long.

He was admitted to hospital on March 30, and is Britain’s longest-suffering Covid inpatient.

Kate “draws hope” from cases such as Fatima Bridle, who re­turned home in July after 141 days in hospital, and Richard Wanigasekera, 72, who was discharged after 162 days earlier this month.

While Derek has dropped a staggering eight stone, his weight loss has now stabilised, and he is being fed through his stomach.

Similarly, GMB star Kate has lost a lot of weight, prompting concern from fans on social media.

She insisted she has been eating — blaming “adrenaline” for her more slender appearance.

In July, the presenter — who gets up daily at 2.30am — returned to work alongside co-host Ben Shephard. Last month she went back to hosting her Smooth Radio show.

She refuses to crumble and said: “Having hope keeps you moving forward, but there are days when I feel quite weak.

“We miss Derek every single day. But now I definitely feel like he looks at me, and he knows me.

"I have to believe that, it's what keeps me going. “I say to him all the time, ‘I know you’re in there, Derek . . . and I'm going to get you out’.

“I feel like I’m hanging over a cliff edge, holding on to him, saying, ‘Don’t let go, don’t let go — I’m going to get you out of this.’

“I sometimes think he’s looking back at me and in his Derek way thinking, ‘Well, can you please crack on with it a bit faster’.

“But it’s the doctors and nurses, and Derek himself, that are really going to bring him back. They are the heroes in this.”

Midway through our chat from her North London home, Kate paused to inspect a pumpkin being finessed by daughter Darcey.

Halloween is a poignant reminder of the family’s life without Derek.

Kate explained: “Derek absolutely loved Halloween.

"He was so into it because he lived in America for a while, doing his Masters, and then came back with all these massive Halloween decorations and projector screens which he would put up around the house.

“He would trick and treat with the kids, do the pumpkin carving and all of that, so I’ll try my best this year but I know it won’t be as good as when Derek does it.”

Kate and Derek met in 2004 through a mutual friend, ex-Labour MP and Times Radio presenter Gloria De Piero. They married in London the following year.

They were due to renew their vows this summer. Instead, Kate has had to make do with daily internet phone calls and sporadic hospital visits — which depend on both Derek’s condition, and Covid restrictions at the time.

She last visited him on Sunday when he was “in a very bad way”.

As well as her “amazing” kids, Kate credits both the “kindness of strangers” and her “wonderful” GMB and Smooth colleagues.

Kate said: “It’s been such a hard year, but I’m conscious that so many others are worse off having lost loved ones, so I am eternally grateful to have Derek still with us.

“I was on Facebook earlier and up popped a ‘five years ago today’' memory of us as a family on holiday in Florida.

"It's so devastating to see how different he is now to the person I saw in that photo — it's such a reminder of the change.

“There are lots of small steps which have been positive. He's started making little twitches and movements which indicate there's been no spinal damage.

"All these things I take heart from — how much further he can go, is still in question.

“But I really do feel like Derek is fighting back — and I really, really hope the next time I chat to The Sun, Derek will be by my side.”

Kate Garraway says Derek Draper is 'stable' despite having daily ups and downs as he recovers from the coronavirus

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