KATE Garraway has announced that her husband Derek Draper will die within three days if he is not left without the help of specialists.
In the new documentary “Caring for Derek” – the sequel to Kate’s award-winning film “Finding Derek” – viewers will once again see how the couple suffer from the serious illness of a former political consultant.
Covid-stricken Derek may never be able to walk again because the tendons and muscles in his legs have become stiff from being in an induced coma for so long.
He sleeps between 16 and 20 hours a night, while Good Morning Britain host Kate survives barely a quarter of that time.
According to her, her biggest fear is people who think she’s throwing a “pity party.”
Nothing is further from the truth.
On Tuesday, viewers will get a complete glimpse into the daily grind of caring for the fragile Derek.
Though he still needs 24-hour expert help – he’ll die within three days if left unassisted – Kate continues to do a superhuman amount of it herself.
She often gets up every two hours at night to help the night sitter put him to bed, and she has to wash and change his bedding an incredible seven times a day.
In November, Kate even flew Derek secretly to North America for a groundbreaking medical trial.
The GMB star went on a trip when a world-famous US doctor contacted her after seeing Derek’s plight on TV.
Kate accompanied a seriously ill psychologist on a grueling 16-hour journey, where he received groundbreaking treatment at a specialized clinic in Monterrey, Mexico.
Incredibly, Derek is scheduled to return to the center next month for another 28 days while doctors continue to monitor his brain, liver and lungs.
Although the 54-year-old man, who was hospitalized with the coronavirus in March 2020, has shown some signs of improvement since his visit in November, he remains bedridden and in need of round-the-clock care.
Kate said: “It took weeks and weeks of planning and when I told Derek about this place, he was thrilled.
“He is so desperate to get better that he will do everything possible to make it happen.
“I think there is actually a huge amount of hope that he will get better. I think that the treatment can be positive.
“I want to be a little more careful not to say too much, because I know that everyone will say: “What is the court?” And I don’t want to start something by giving false hope to others who might be in a similar position.
“But I’m so desperate to give a happy ending – mostly to Derek, but also to everyone who asks me every day how he’s doing.
“I desperately want to tell them that he is getting better…but of course he hasn’t left the forest yet.
“It is difficult to say how far the treatment has come as the treatment program is at a very early stage and he will need much more. We are also still waiting for the final analysis of all the scans, but I like that there were a lot of positives.”
Ironically, the doctor in charge of Derek’s treatment plan and analysis is currently ill with Covid.
However, one early scan of his brain showed bright white spots — something one neurologist says is more common in patients with vascular dementia.
But Kate doesn’t yet have an agreed-upon diagnosis of what exactly the covid did to Derek’s brain and body, because experts still don’t fully understand the long-term effects of the virus.
Before the transatlantic flight, Derek had to undergo oxygen and pressure tests to see if he could handle flying at 40,000 feet.
Kate also had to hire a specialized travel nurse to keep him safe.
“He was a pretty nervous flier anyway,” she adds. “So you can imagine how exhausting and overwhelming it must have been for him.
“But he was amazing and knew what was going on all the time. I’m so proud of him.”
Kate privately rented the hyperbaric oxygen tank used by Novak Djokovic in the hope that it would help repair Derek’s severely damaged lungs.
She is also desperate to try hydrotherapy for him, but unfortunately many centers have closed during the pandemic.
At one point, Derek, who is unable to speak beyond a weak whisper and struggles to say more than one or two words at any given time, is shown walking to the bathroom. It was the first time he was able to go to the bathroom outside of his bed.
Even something so fundamentally human is, unfortunately, a huge step forward.
“What is heartbreaking is that this is progress, he uses the toilet without me, this is an achievement,” she explains.
“He cried afterwards partly because he was pleased, but also, I think, this is a case of: “God, is this where we are?”
“But we have to celebrate small things because they are big – they mean progress.”
On the day we met in the pub near her north London home, where she and Derek used to dine, an emotional Kate was visibly broken.
She repeatedly apologizes for the “condition” of her chipped polished nails. Clearly, manicures are no longer on her priority list.
Aside from caring for her 16-year-old husband, Kate has never been this busy professionally.
The mom-of-two gets up at 3:15 twice a week to host Good Morning Britain. She hosts a daily show on Smooth Radio and recently took over from Piers Morgan on Life Stories.
She is also set to launch an augmented reality medical series for the BBC and received an MBE for her services in broadcasting, journalism and philanthropy in New Year’s honors.
Derek appears to be in full cognitive function, but is largely “locked in” and unable to articulate his thoughts clearly.
Which, she says, “incredibly frustrates and frustrates” him.
He knows about the documentary and says onscreen that he wants it to be made: “I think the main thing for him is that he feels like he’s contributing to the fact that we’re publishing it.”
Kate admits that after Derek’s illness, she feels desperately lonely.
She explains: “For me, it’s like grief and hope at the same time.
“There are flashes of old Derek and then he disappears again and you just feel very alone.
“Derek is dreaming ‘before’ and every morning it’s so terrifying to see him wake up and realize where he is now.
“Every morning in his eyes some kind of broken soul. You can just see it.
“It reminds me of going through a terrible breakup and waking up in the morning feeling good and then such a football hit of memories.”
Former lobbyist Derek told Kate that he dreams of working again one day. “But I don’t know if it’s real,” she sighs.
Once a jovial man, Derek rarely showed up to events without a glass of wine in hand. He has always been the soul of any party.
So seeing him die today – he lost about five stone – is even more severe.
“Derek was a big, I mean BIG, eater who always drank a glass of red wine. Now he doesn’t really express hunger.
“He once tried champagne, but now he doesn’t feel like it very much. “Comparing it to what it was before is very strange – it’s just different. It’s almost like living with a stranger.”
On the show, viewers will see Derek asking for some shrimp chips and a ham sandwich – a rare “Before Derek” flash.
He can also use an iPad – “although he hasn’t read anything about himself” – and has watched the entire Game of Thrones.
Once an avid reader, he’s only read one book in the last two years, Celia Walden’s debut thriller, Payday.
Kate smiles, “I asked him if the main character was based on Pierce. [Morgan – Celia’s husband]and he said, “Not really.”
“We had quite a long conversation about the book, it was the most active in a long time. That was great.
“So there are these moments of normality and hope. This is what I value.”
While caring for him, Kate must perform the grimest tasks to keep her husband clean and functioning.
This level of forced intimacy brought the couple closer in ways they never imagined.
On Valentine’s Day, he was able to sign a card for her, bought by the couple’s 15-year-old daughter Darcy, writing “Hello Wiffy Wifey” – “his old nickname for me.”
He hoped to invite her to dinner, but “obviously” it was “impossible”.
She adds: “We are still in love. We constantly tell each other that we love each other.
“I think he is still the person I fell in love with, absolutely. Of course he is. Except for the fact that his behavior cannot be the same.
“He wants to be able to date again one day. I think he wants to be able to stand next to me and have us go on a date.
“Our relationship still seems romantic. It’s romantic. She and Darcy lit a candle the other day so we could spend a candlelit evening together.
“But he finds this new balance. I mean, Derek has always been the boss. He was very powerful and will fix everything.
“So it’s a search for a new balance where you’re a guardian but don’t lose other things.
“And I’ll help with really intimate things, say, with the toilet.” I’ll say, “Are you okay?”
“He will always say he would rather I didn’t. And I say, “OK, but I have to do it.”
“There are other moments when he is just so weak. I don’t think we’re at the point where it’s still embarrassing because he’s still so unwell.
“Derek has actually always been a big crybaby and emotionally attuned, and I think that’s even more true now.
“But in fact, he could have died. It may not be ideal right now, but he is alive and I am grateful for that every day. We still have Derek.
“Caring for Derek” airs Tuesday nights on ITV1 at 9pm.