Teen Who Caught COVID-19 Twice While In Coma Wakes With No Knowledge Of Pandemic

Even if you're somehow in full-on denial about the COVID-19 global pandemic, you can't deny that it has changed our lives — and for many, there's no going back to pre-pandemic times.

Life is irretrievably different. We might one day be able to put our masks in a bucket and burn them, but many of us will never be able to look at a crowded room the same way again, and countless livelihoods have been forced to shutter for good — and that's not even counting those who have contracted the virus. Whole families have been shattered and decimated, and even the survivors of the virus often face severe long-term health consequences.

It's hard to imagine how anybody's life could have been left untouched by the COVID-19 — but just think of the shock for someone waking up to the world we now live in, never having known the horror of the disease. That's happening right now for one young man in the U.K.

On March 1, 2020, Joseph Flavill was struck by a car while out for a walk in Staffordshire.

That was three weeks before Britain entered its first lockdown due to the pandemic. But because the 19-year-old Flavill suffered a traumatic brain injury in the collision, he was in a coma at that time. Flavill's coma extended for the next 10 months, and he's only now beginning to emerge.

As his aunt, Sally Flavill Smith, told The Guardian, "His awareness is starting to improve now but we just don't know what he knows."

And of course, Flavill's family members aren't quite sure what or how to tell him about the pandemic.

"I just don't know where to start with it," Flavill Smith continued. "A year ago if someone had told me what was going to happen over the last year, I don't think I would have believed it. I've got no idea how Joseph's going to come to understand what we've all been through."

It's made harder still because, due to the pandemic, they can't be with Flavill in person — any explaining they do has to be done over a video call.

"When he’s awake in his room, he’s not going to have any idea why he’s there. We do talk about it on the phone, and we try to make him aware that we really want to be there holding his hands, but we’re just unable to do it [because of Covid]," Flavill Smith explained.

The other complicating factor, of course, is Flavill's injury.

"A brain injury is very much the unknown, so we haven't been given an idea of what to expect really," Flavill Smith told Staffordshire Live.

Flavill has only had one visitor since his injury.

In December, his mother was allowed to visit for his birthday, but only while remaining distant and wearing full PPE. At that stage, she couldn't even be sure if he knew that she was there.

"It's unbelievably hard for his mum not being able to see him," Flavill Smith told Staffordshire Live.

The strange connection to the pandemic is that Flavill has actually had the virus twice while in care.

So he has survived quite a bit in the past year. He's not yet speaking on his own — he has to communicate through blinks and smiles. But, he can move his arms and legs and follow simple commands, and he's even shown his sense of humor.

"It's the best we have seen him recently. It might seem like little progress but the fact he can give the nurse a high five is a really big step," Flavill Smith told Staffordshire Live.

So, despite all the complications, Flavill's family have reasons to remain positive and full of hope.

Flavill's family have started a fundraising site called Joseph's Journey to support his recovery and raise awareness for traumatic brain injury — so far, they've been able to raise more than £30,000.

An update as of January 31 stated that Joseph "is really engaging with all of your messages and he has started to make some really meaningful steps in the recovery process."

"We've still got a long journey ahead, but the steps he's made in the last three weeks have been absolutely incredible," Flavill Smith added to The Guardian.

h/t: The Guardian, Staffordshire Live

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