Caley Thistle assistant boss Scott Kellacher has lifted the lid on the double dose of serious illness which left him barely able to move.
The Inverness number two was assistant to former boss John Robertson until the start of the year when both men needed to take a break from their jobs.
Robertson was granted compassionate leave at the same point as Kellacher was struck down by Covid and encephalitis, which causes swelling of the brain.
Robertson is now the club’s sporting director and Kellacher is back on the training pitch.
The Championship club kept the role open for the 40-year-old Kellacher’s return and for the last six weeks he has fitted in nicely alongside Billy Dodds, who replaced Robertson in the summer, having helped interim manager Neil McCann last term.
Symptoms had big impact on coach
Kellacher explained the impact of the dual virus hitting him simultaneously.
He said: “I got a virus called viral encephalitis and then got Covid at the same time so the two coming together really wiped me clean out.
“I didn’t expect to be out for as long as I did, when I got out of hospital in the middle of January, I told my wife I’d be back in two or three weeks.
“I was kidding myself on, but I didn’t expect it to be as long as it was.
“You have heard all the symptoms that go along with it and there were some days I just couldn’t move.
“I’m usually up at six in the morning, on the move all day until seven or eight at night, so not being able to do anything wasn’t easy.
“If I tried to help around the house or with the kids, I’d go missing for three or four days after it because I was wiped clean out.
“It was the fatigue mainly, but with the viral encephalitis there were a lot of headaches and stuff.
“I think I had every symptom going, which made it hard to deal with because you didn’t know what was coming from one day to the next.”
Ups and downs like a rollercoaster
The unexpected nature of the illness made the struggle even more demanding.
Kellacher added: “Every day was like a rollercoaster, you were up and down, never knowing what you were going to get.
“I’d sleep for four or five days then think I felt a bit better, was getting somewhere and then as soon as I did anything it was back to the start again.
“I just kept trying, doing one or two days then rest and try to build myself back up.
“I am usually upbeat and positive, I’m always on the go, so it was hard for the people around me to see me like that.
“I’m so grateful for my family and the people I have around me.
“To go from being upbeat and always looking forward to my work, to being like that was very difficult.
“I appreciate there are a lot of people much worse off, there’s a lot going on in the world, so I am grateful I am able to come back.
“I thank my lucky stars, the hospital were brilliant with me.”
After gradually popping in to the Caledonian Stadium, Kellacher is delighted to be back doing what he does best, coaching the first-team group.
He said: “I came back about five or six weeks ago, roughly about that. I had been popping in to show face, coming in to watch training.
“Some days I was able to come in, but others I was very tired so it wasn’t possible.
“It has taken a lot of time and I just hope it’s onwards and upwards now.”
Club rallied to support Kellacher
And the former Nairn County and Clach player was quick to praise those at Caley Thistle, who have helped him get back on his feet.
He said: “The support the club has given me has been terrific and I can’t thank the chairman (Ross Morrison), the board, (chief executive) Scot Gardiner and the managers enough.
“They gave me reassurance to come back when I was ready and that was a real help.
“The gaffer has been brilliant. He’s given me the support and made sure my health is fine for coming back.
“He’s always said if I’m having a bad day then don’t worry about it, my health comes first.
“Everyone has been fantastic and hopefully I can come back and play a part from now on.”
And Kellacher’s focus is helping second-top Caley Jags return to winning form this Saturday against basement visitors Dunfermline Athletic.
On Friday morning, the Fifers appointed former ICT and Ross County manager John Hughes as Peter Grant’s replacement.
Although he will be in Inverness on Saturday, caretakers Greg Shields and Steven Whittaker will take the team.