Larbert minister feared losing life to coronavirus

A Falkirk district minister has urged others to “stay safe” after a battle with coronavirus which left her fearing for her life.

By Jonathon Reilly
Monday, 22nd June 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd June 2020, 12:16 pm

Reverend Julie Rennick (60), of Larbert West Parish Church, was diagnosed with Covid-19 on April 4 when her temperature soared overnight and she began experiencing breathing difficulties.

She and husband Alastair (58) both fell ill and were forced to go into self-isolation in separate rooms for three weeks, a time during which Rev. Rennick contemplated penning goodbye letters to her three sons.

As well as a high fever and pain in every one of her joints, Rev. Rennick recalls how performing everyday tasks became “utterly debilitating”.

Reverend Julie Rennick, minister of Larbert West Parish Church. Picture: Tara Grey Photography.

She said: “The simple things like making a cup of tea would wipe me out.

“It was hard. There were days when I didn’t feel too bad and there were others when you just felt like there was nothing you could do.

“Having breakfast was one of those things and it would be enough to send me back to bed.

“On the peak days it was really difficult to breathe. My temperature went up to 38.7C and 38.8C and that was really high so those were scary days.

“I would have days when I thought it wasn’t so bad and a couple of days later it kicked in.

“We phoned back 101 and they said that’s normal. They were really supportive and said that’s what it does. It wasn’t predictable.

“The doctors told us to keep taking lots of fluids and paracetamol and any time we were unsure to phone them and they would talk us through things.

“It was as if there was a wet sponge in my nose that I had to breathe through. Every breath was just a horrible gasping.

“My thought was I had to write a letter to my sons because I did not know if I could ever speak to them again.

“That was terrifying, a real dark night of the soul moment.

“People need to stay safe and follow the guidance and not be anxious because it’s better to be safe than to be ill.”

Rev. Rennick and her husband were supported throughout by friends, family and parishioners who would send well wishes which were crucial in keeping spirits high and enabling the former to get “back to work”, albeit virtually.

So too were daily phone conversations with Reverend Dan Harper (38), minister at Bridge of Allan Parish Church, who was struck down with Covid-19 ten days before.

She added: “Dan and I would text each other and ask how we were doing.

“Just supporting each other and having people praying for us was really important.

“Church members were amazing and my session clerk and her husband, the organist, picked up prescriptions and shopping for us and were just fantastic.

“We got letters and cards from parishioners who wanted to send us love. Those were really precious.”

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