A Carlow woman who is recovering from COVID-19 says she's still suffering 'horrendous' side effects from the virus, six weeks after her diagnosis.
46-year-old Nicola Doyle was hospitalised after testing positive for coronavirus in January.
Between home and hospital, the mother-of-two spent over 30 days in isolation.
While she initially had symptoms including a cough, sore throat and headache, the longer-lasting side effects have included severe weight loss.
Speaking to Moncrieff, Nicola said it has been a 'very, very tough' six weeks, and that not being able to put her arms around her children to comfort them was the 'worst feeling in the world'.
She said: “Over a two-week period, I lost over a stone in weight. My hair started to fall out. My teeth loosened.
"Unfortunately, all of those symptoms are still going on.
“I’m currently on high doses of medication, steroids, antibiotics, painkillers… I’m no better, really, than I was six weeks ago.
“I’m a 46-year-old female… very healthy. I kept fit, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. On paper, I should have sailed through all this… but unfortunately here I am six weeks later.”
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Nicola was admitted to Kilkenny Hospital two-and-a-half weeks into her experience with the disease, and spent six days being treated there.
She said it was particularly hard being ‘deprived of human contact’ in the COVID ward, with no opportunity for family to visit.
However, she added: “You’re really relying on the healthcare workers, the doctors, the nurses… I’ve described them as angels on earth, and I will continue to do so.
“They were incredible - the love and compassion they showed me while I was in hospital was unbelievable.”
Nicola says she will never forget the impact the experience had on her children, and she now wants the Government to step in and ensure children impacted by the pandemic have supports available to them.
She observed: “To watch them be scared, crying and have all of these questions… as a mother, not being able to put your arms around your children and comfort them is the worst feeling in the world.
“I describe COVID as a thief… it has robbed us of so much in the last six weeks.
“From my point of view, I think that long after COVID is gone the emotional trauma families have suffered will live on… that needs to be focused on as well."
Nicola said she won’t forget coming home from hospital, looking in the mirror, and not actually recognising herself.
She explained: “When I came home from hospital, both my children recoiled away from me in fear because of what they saw.
"You shouldn’t have to go through that… people shouldn’t have to deal with that."