A MESSAGE of hope and positivity has been sent from a member of a Cheshire addiction rehabilitation clinic who is being treated for coronavirus in a Barbados field hospital.

Mike Delaney, who is clinical director for Delamere, in Cuddington, was visiting a friend on the Caribbean island to celebrate his forthcoming 60th birthday when he became ill.

He displayed none of the common symptoms of a cough and high temperature, instead experiencing headache and back pain. A doctor realised his blood oxygen level was low and Mike tested positive for the virus.

He is now doing well after 12 days in a makeshift hospital at a Barbados military base despite uncertainty about where he will stay and how he will get home when he is hopefully discharged in a couple of days.

Chester and District Standard:

Mike Delaney in a hospital mask

Mike said: “It’s all very organised and being very well managed here. Things could be so much worse.

“Fortunately my symptoms have been quite manageable. I had quite a bit of discomfort in my abdomen, back and organs for a few days in hospital and that got a bit difficult.

“The anxieties start to build about how bad things could get and whether anything could suddenly deteriorate.

“There was a frightening incident with a young man in the hospital who had seemed quite well then suddenly collapsed unable to breathe. Thankfully, they got him going again but it makes you aware again of the severity of all of this.

“You have to try to stay calm and accept that getting caught up in your own head is a dangerous place to be. I do practice what I preach.

“You’ve got to reel your thoughts back in sometimes. You can become hysterical if you allow yourself to. I’m alive, not that ill and coping quite well. There are no shortages here at the moment. I got sick at a good time.

“This is my 11th day in this strange place. It’s not what I am used to. There’s rigid rules, we’re wearing masks all the time, all the staff are in protective equipment like in a science fiction movie. It’s difficult but I am able to see beyond the difficulty of the moment. In a couple of weeks I’m going to be well and hopefully immune and invaluable.”

Chester and District Standard:

Delamere founder Martin Preston, clinical director Mike Delaney, and Delamere ambassador Gary Charles

Mike, a registered nurse, is keen to get back to the UK and resume his work at Delamere, which remains open to guests battling addiction issues despite the current crisis. In addition, he plans to offer his services as a returner to the NHS.

He is in contact with Government officials who are trying to organise return flights for Brits stranded abroad.

Mike, of Shotts, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, has worked in addiction rehab and recovery settings since 1996 when he undertook rehab himself for alcohol and prescription drug issues.

Mike said: “Addiction recovery has taught me to look on the bright side and make the most of whatever happens.

“I’ve had a lot of experience of reframing things into something more palatable and all of that is serving me well now.

“People in recovery have a bit of an advantage. We have taught ourselves to have an acceptance of things - that we can’t change some things. Although some things are difficult you have to try to work through them.

“Right now for many, many people stress and anxiety are massive issues. People will be drinking more or taking more drugs than they normally would and becoming out of control is a real possibility for a lot of people.

“Because everybody is on lockdown there will be lots of issues with conflict and domestic violence. It’s a scary time for lots of different mental health issues, not just addiction.

“Try to share how you are feeling, pick up the phone, share your fears and anxieties - they lessen when you share them. And if you are in danger or you know someone who is please, please reach out.

“Don’t be ashamed. There are lots of people who are very strong and get on with their lives that at this moment in time are very anxious and finding it difficult.”

Delamere ambassador, ex Premier League and England footballer Gary Charles, who fought alcohol dependency issues with Mike’s help, has also recently spoken about his fears that alcoholics could reach crisis point during the coronavirus outbreak.

His troubles peaked when he was hit by injury and had long periods without being able to play football and he fears this period of lockdown could have similar impacts for others.

He said: “Alcohol and addiction are coping mechanisms people use to numb pain, their thoughts, troubles and as a distraction from all of that.

“Sadly, addiction issues won’t go away despite the pandemic. If anything they are likely to intensify for athletes and anyone who is struggling and now under new and extra pressures.

“During my career I was in denial of my drinking problem because I could go weeks, months, even years without a drink, but then I’d go on destructive benders for days at a time. I was able to stay away from drink and keep up my fitness when I was needed on the pitch but when injury hit my problems really took hold.

“This difficult period we are all in at the moment with coronavirus is putting people under strain and individuals and families who are living with addiction may well hit a crisis point. I urge anyone who is struggling to reach out for help.”

Delamere founder Martin Preston, of Hale, Greater Manchester, said: “Whilst we are being encouraged to physically isolate ourselves, people must not feel emotionally isolated.

“Addiction issues are likely to escalate in these times of increased anxiety, social seclusion and intense periods at home.

“We’re happy to speak to anyone who is struggling and urge people to ring us or any of the national helplines if they are in need of a listening ear or recovery support.”

Delamere remains open during the crisis offering support to guests with addiction issues.