A woman who is suffering from long effects of COVID-19 has said the person she has become 'could not step into her life' before the infection.
Rachael Dandy (39) was diagnosed last October, after initially mistaking the virus for a sinus infection.
She told Pat Kenny she had always led a healthy lifestyle, but now everything takes a huge effort.
"The person I've become with all these symptoms could not step into my life before COVID infection.
"My life was very busy, it started at 6.30 every morning - I got to sit down in the evening at about 8.00.
"I was very fit and healthy, I had a good exercise regime.
"I literally didn't stop: I commuted into town, I worked full-time, I've two boys - I just had a very, very busy life and right now it's just very, very different.
"I suppose I wasn't nervous about getting COVID - my issue with COVID was 'Will I pass it on to somebody vulnerable?'
"I did not expect that it would have this type of impact on my life".
'I just crashed out'
Rachael said it all started in early October, when she felt she was getting a sinus infection.
"I got a test fairly quickly, and within 24 hours then I was diagnosed with having COVID.
"I said 'Three weeks and I'll be back in work', and it just really didn't work out that way.
"I suppose in November my aim was to get back to work... and I probably did too much.
"I tried to go back to work for a week and I just crashed out of work.
"And [in] December then I just had a total relapse - the whole brain fog in December was really bad.
"I'd be sitting on the couch and think 'I need to charge my phone': by the time I reached the sitting room door, I actually forgot what it was that I stood up for.
"I'd get into my car to head off to do an errand, and have to pull in before I reached the end of the estate and think 'Why did I leave the house?'
"It was just very, very frightening".
Pace of recovery 'barely noticeable'
She said the amount of symptoms she has had "would probably fit an A4 page".
"Fifty percent of those symptoms are now just extremely stubborn - the pace of recovery that I've had is just so slow that it's barely noticeable.
"It's only that my loved ones around me [are] saying 'Look there is improvement, there is improvement'.
"But on most days you're talking about breathlessness, racing heart, fatigue which is very difficult to manage but I'm getting a little bit smarter with that.
"Chest pain, migraine, memory and concentration issues, heart palpitations, tremors.
"I've done too much over the last couple of days and I'm really suffering now today - my whole body is shaking, my heart rate is around 130.
"The impacts of that on your mental health: from being somebody who was so active and [had] such high energy, to move to this life and to have to question yourself every hour - 'Am I doing too much?' - it's really had an impact on my mental health."
She said talking with an infectious disease consultant at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin made a big difference.
"It was a very lonely place before January, when I got to sit down with an infectious disease consultant and get a little bit of understanding and a little bit of guidance on how to manage day to day.
"It's real learning curve - it's very difficult to have an illness where a lot of people don't really understand it.
"It's very difficult to re-adjust your life to deal with this, it literally just takes over.
"Every day is consumed with my recovery, 'Am I getting better, when am I going to get back to work?'
"Work was a huge, huge part of my life - I', a very social person, my job is hugely sociable [with] customers, colleagues.
"For that just to be turned off; Vincent's signed me with a clinical psychologist so I'm working with her at the moment.
"And I need to forget about the work thing, because I need to focus on me and getting myself back - but it's just been so slow".
'I want to get my life back'
However, one good potential aspect is that she has spent more time at home with her sons.
"Yesterday I sent my child to school with a yogurt and no spoon - these are the type of things that happen.
"My youngest son has a little bit of anxiety that I'll actually forget to pick him up from school.
"I was a couple of minutes late yesterday, and he's worried that I'm going to forget.
"Some mornings when I'm not feeling great I have to say to my son Alex 'I'm not having a good day today' and he'll help me with stuff.
"So it's been difficult for them, but also in another way I'm very much more present in their lives at the moment - and that's something that I'm getting a huge amount out of as well".
Rachael added that she is still waiting for a vaccine, and will probably get it in June.
"I've so much hope in the vaccination - probably too much hope - because I'm just getting a little bit fed up now at this stage.
"I just really want to get my life back, and I'm hoping that I'm one of these people who is going to actually start getting some relief with the vaccination - so I'm waiting for that.
"I'm alive, I've no other underlying conditions that would put me at-risk of getting re-infected again.
"If I'm offered the vaccine I'll absolutely take it, if not I'll wait my turn".