An Irish carer has spoken of the "terrifying" experience of testing positive for COVID-19 while being a full-time carer to her 96-year-old father.
Broadcaster Teena Gates tested positive for the virus yesterday.
However, she's also the full-time carer for her father who has advanced dementia and needs assistance with many everyday tasks.
Speaking on Lunchtime Live, Teena explained she had finally received an appointment for her own booster vaccine for tomorrow - but she's now unable to get it after testing positive just 48 hours beforehand.
She said: “I’m hopping mad because I didn’t get my booster in time. My dad got his booster back on October 26th… at the time, they said they couldn’t give me my booster because as a carer I was not prioritised for vaccination.
"It’s the same thing carers have been battling about since the pandemic began.”
Teena told Andrea she knows the booster may not have prevented her from getting COVID, but it would have given her "the best fighting chance" against getting very sick.
For now, Teena's symptoms are similar to a bad sinus infection, but she's finding herself preparing just in case her symptoms get any worse.
She said: "Because I feel fairly OK at the moment, I got up at 6am this morning to batch cook and get all the laundry washed and dried… to make sure I have as much work done in advance as possible, in case I get any worse than I am at the moment.
“I’ve got a mask on and I’ve got a facial screen on over that again.
“Someone is going to be dropping off a better quality of facemasks, which apparently will help.
“To complicate things further, our HSE carers went down with it before I did. There are no more carers to replace them because they’re so stretched for resources.”
“I never felt so alone"
So @DonnellyStephen & @LeoVaradkar & Co. I’m about to lift #Dad(96) onto the toilet & I have Covid. Just wondering how that self-isolation technique is going to work now? Dad’s had his booster weeks ago thankfully & is clear so far. But as his #CARER, of course,
I didn’t qualify. pic.twitter.com/zrSB4BuxBi
— Teena Gates (@TeenaGates) December 13, 2021
Teena's father's care requirements include someone lifting him and feeding him.
Officials have said they can arrange emergency respite care for her father if necessary - but Teena believes “that’s not a practical reality” for someone like her father with advanced dementia.
She said: “They don’t thrive when out of their routine, or when there are strangers around them.
"The last several times dad has been anywhere near a hospital environment, it hasn’t ended well.”
Facing the prospect of ten days isolation, Teena - who often shares her experiences of full-time caring with her social media followers - said she feels "abandoned and forgotten".
She said: “I never felt so alone as when I suddenly realised for the next ten days it’s me and dad and Facebook.”
However, she said she gets “extraordinary strength” from those who send her advice and messages of comfort.