Jacinta wins the battle against Covid-19

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A BLESSINGTON woman, who was so scared she asked a paramedic “if I was going to die” spent several weeks in Tallaght University Hospital battling the coronavirus.

Jacinta Walsh (55), originally from St Maelruain’s Park in Tallaght, described the staff who treated her as “fantastic” and is calling on people to continue to follow the government’s guidelines for containing the spread of the virus. 

JACINTA leaving the ward 2 compressor

Jacinta applauded by nurses and staff

Jacinta has longstanding health issues with her lungs, but earlier this year she was managing to get a handle on her health issues and even completed a local Operation Transformation 5k event.

However, in late January Jacinta broke her foot in an accident, and was admitted to Tallaght University Hospital for an operation, before being transferred to St Luke’s Hospital for convalescence.

In early April, while still in St Luke’s, Jacinta started experiencing a high temperature and intense back pain and was immediately moved into an isolation unit, and shortly afterwards tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I knew myself that I had it,” Jacinta told The Echo. “Because of my health issues with my lungs, I’m very aware of how my lungs are and I knew that how I felt wasn’t normal.

“It was horrific. You watch things on the telly about it, but you never think that you’re going to be one of the people who’ll test positive.”

Jacinta was then transferred to Tallaght University Hospital to receive treatment for the virus, and her fears about fighting the virus were compounded by the isolation she had to endure – she hadn’t seen her husband, Tommy Walsh, since March 10, as St Luke’s had stopped allowing visitors to the hospital.

“I was so scared that I asked the paramedic on the way to Tallaght Hospital if I was going to die,” Jacinta remembered. “Then everything just happened – my body broke down. I had no control over it, the virus had taken over my body completely.”

What followed were a draining few weeks, as Jacinta’s body tried to fight the virus and medical staff in the hospital kept a watchful eye over her.

“It’s the isolation that’s so difficult, there’s no one to talk to,” she said, “There’s no one to share how you feel, no one to tell you what’s happening in the real world. It’s a very difficult, lonely place, and one that I won’t forget in a hurry.

“You don’t see people, all you see are masks and goggles. I didn’t see anyone for a while unless I rang the bell, but I didn’t like ringing the bell unless I had to.

JACINTA 20200519 124510 compressor

Jacinta Walsh

“I didn’t want the nurses to come in unless absolutely necessary – their lives were are at risk too, which was something that I was very conscious of.”

The mother-of-one had a brief reprieve from the symptoms of the virus and felt better one morning, roughly a week after she was admitted to the hospital, but the symptoms then returned with full force later that day, which is a common occurrence in people who are suffering from coronavirus.

“I felt better that morning, so I ate something, because I hadn’t been eating at all because I wasn’t hungry, which is one of things the virus does – you lose your appetite.

“Then that afternoon I felt rotten again, and I just thought, ‘I’m not going to get over this’.”

After she recovered, Jacinta said staff at the hospital told her that at one point she was asking hospital staff to transfer her to a bed because she “didn’t want to die on a trolley”, but as she was so ill at the time she has no recollection of saying that to the staff.

Jacinta’s condition started to improve two-and-a-half weeks after she was admitted to Tallaght University Hospital, and she was finally given the all-clear to leave the hospital on April 28, and got to see her husband, Tommy, and their daughter, Audrey, for the first time in over a month.

While speaking to The Echo on the phone, Jacinta still had a persistent cough, which is typically one of the lingering symptoms that people who have recovered from the virus have, but she was feeling much better, and was grateful for the interventions of the staff in St Luke’s and Tallaght Hospital.

“I want to thank Sandra and all the staff in St Luke’s with how well they handled the situation and got me moved so quickly,” said Jacinta.

“And the staff in the Ruttle Ward in Tallaght, every single one of them was amazing, I can’t thank them enough for everything they did. They work so hard, they’re saving lives.”

When asked how she feels after having beaten the virus, Jacinta added: “I feel like one of the lucky ones. I’d gone through so much anyway, but I can’t believe I got through this. It’s important to me now not to take life for granted, and to just enjoy it.”

She added: “People need to follow the advice of the experts, and those who have it or who have gone through it. I think people might be starting to become complacent, but they don’t want to get this.

“Follow the rules and the guidelines and we’ll all beat this together.”                                              

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