Thanks to Tony Doyle for sharing his patient story with us…
“I feel like I have recovered 90% from Covid19. My lungs have still not fully recovered yet. I wasn’t expecting to be so weak afterwards. But I have to say that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the staff from St James’s hospital. I will never forget the risks they have taken during this crisis to look after patients- everyone from the cleaning staff, to nurses, admin and consultants. They took a risk coming to work to look after patients like me, and I want them to know that my family and I really appreciate that”.
Grateful patient Tony Doyle, aged 54, spent over a month in St James’s Hospital after developing symptoms of Covid19 in early March.
“I woke up one Wednesday morning feeling really bad- I had a cough, shortness of breath and a high temperature. With the news coverage of Covid 19, I knew I had to self-isolated straight away. At that time, the criteria for Covid testing was if you had been to Northern Italy or if you were in close contact with someone who had tested positive.” Tony’s symptoms got worse, so he contacted Dubdoc and his own GP and was on a waiting list for testing. By the next Wednesday, Tony’s wife Geraldine had to call an ambulance as Tony was very unwell. “The ambulance crew arrived in full hazmat gear- I was expecting this, but it was still a bit surreal, with all the neighbours looking out to see what was going on”. The ambulance crew took him to St James’s Hospital. After a night in an isolation ward he was transferred to another ward – “The nurse confirmed that I had tested positive for the virus”
Tony’s condition worsened over the next few days and he was then moved to ICU. Tony’s dad sadly passed away after suffering from respiratory issues and a heart attack in ICU in St James’s Hospital 24 years ago, so Tony was understandable very anxious. “I thought oh god, I don’t want to be here, but I can’t worry about things that I can’t control”. After some time, it was decided that Tony be placed on a ventilator for a few days to help with his breathing. The consultant asked would Tony like to call his wife Geraldine, or would he prefer if the staff called her. “I said you call her, but try to sugar coat it!”. Tony lay in his bed for the next while, waiting to be put on the ventilator. The enormity of the situation began to hit him – “I contemplated whether or not to record messages for my wife and kids in case things didn’t work out well for me, then I thought, what do I say to them? Then I said to myself, no, I’m not doing this. I’m going to get through this”.
Thankful, Tony did get through it, after spending 19 days on a ventilator in ICU. Tony had vivid hallucinations throughout his battle with Covid19. He describes some of these like movies, very clear and vivid, unlike the dreams we often forget. “I got it in my head that I was in a hospital bed in Blessington, in a hospital that doesn’t even exist. Then another time, I was convinced I was in a wartime museum, then a 1970’s attic conversion, both times in my hospital bed with a nurse at might side taking notes. I was also convinced my wife got a brand-new car and my whole family were coming into the hospital to visit, even the dog!”.
Tony had very kind words to say about the staff in St James’s Hospital. “I had great fun messing with the nurses and winding them up, but they always put up with me. Tony added that “perhaps if you have space you can include a sorry from me to the staff if I was a pain in the you know what!” I particularly remember a nurse trying to tune Q102 into the radio for me, and another going down the shop to buy me some diet coke so I could have just one tiny sip. I’ll never forget that kindness”.
What Tony wasn’t expecting, was the length of recovery after Covid19. “I was dying to get home and kept asking when could I leave. Nobody had said how weak I would be, that was a shock. One of the staff said, can you sit up? And I realised I couldn’t. A few days later I could just about walk and get around, but it took a lot out of me. It was a gradual recovery.”
After about 10 days in a recovery ward, Tony was discharged to his family. “I was walking better, but still very weak. I was so lucky to have the support of my family. Between my wife Geraldine, daughter Niamh, daughter Sinead (who is a 2nd year Nursing student in St James’s) and my son Sean (who is studying Occupational Therapy in Trinity), I had lots of trained family members to help out!”
Tony also stressed that the pandemic is far from over – “its not over yet and people have to be vigilant wearing proper face coverings and keeping distant”.
We chatted to Tony about our new Healing Garden Appeal to hear his thoughts as a patient. We need to raise €100,000 as we want to create a special space to help relieve the anxiety and stress often experienced by those with serious illness. The garden will also be accessible to beds from our ICU. Tony told us “I think this is a fantastic idea. A healing garden would be really great for patients, to be able to see some greenery and get some fresh air, it would really give you hope that you can get better and that you have something to look forward to. I spent so much time in a clinical environment, a garden like that would really perk up patients and staff”.
Find out more/donate here: www.stjamesday.ie
Originally from Ballyfermot, Tony lives in Palmerstown with wife Geraldine, their 3 children and their dog Ella. We want to thank him for sharing his story with his. Tony and Geraldine are due to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary soon. It won’t be the large gathering they had planned, but we wish them both all the very best.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Tony and his family for their very kind donation and for the beautiful hampers they donated to 2 of the wards. Many thanks to KN Group, Tony’s employers, who also donated. We really appreciate their support.
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