A BRAVE Cork man has described the distressing moment he woke from an induced coma to learn his beloved mother had passed away while he was unconscious.
Ian O’Sullivan detailed his tragic story to Neil Prendeville during a heart-breaking interview broadcast on Cork’s Red FM.
A full-time carer for his 83-year-old mother, Ian had followed every precaution to try and halt the spread of coronavirus in the family home.
Even now, he doesn’t know how he ended up becoming infected. It’s a question that has dogged him in the weeks and months since.
“I had been out and about that week in a few pubs to watch the Cheltenham racing — I don’t know if that was it. It is the million-dollar question. But I just don’t know,” he told Prendeville.
“I followed all the virus stuff on the media so I went into lockdown. Because of my mother’s age I was very worried about her. At the time the protocol was to self-isolate and to get tested.
“I did just that – I stayed at home in my room. Friends dropped medicines to my house. I was like that for nine days. I was in the bed most of the time – it really knocked me, I was exhausted.”
Despite suffering from ill-health, the fact Ian was his mother’s only full-time carer meant he had to continue looking after her even as his well-being deteriorated further.
With anyone suffering symptoms under strict instruction to self-isolate and avoid contact with any outside parties, he had no other choice.
“I was cooking for her as best I could,” he said.
“I didn’t leave the house — my sisters brought food to the house as well. But no one came in. I didn’t leave the house.”
It took ten days before Ian conceded he needed urgent medical help.
Struggling to catch his breath, he contacted his GP, with an ambulance subsequently taking him to Mercy University Hospital (MUH).
Tragically, his ill-health left him unable to even say goodbye to his mum.
“I wasn’t well enough to have a conversation. I kind of said goodbye to her with my eyes. I even had PPE on me leaving the house.”
Matters took a sad turn two days later when Ian’s mother was also rushed to hospital with the virus.
Ian, meanwhile, was having to contend with the news he was going to be put in an induced coma to try and help rid his body of the lethal virus.
“They eventually told me they had to put me into an induced coma, maybe for two weeks. Straight away I got upset but I just couldn’t breathe,” he said.
“I was going to get the best of care — I was the first person there with COVID. I was scared but I knew I had to do it.”
During those two weeks, Ian suffered the kind of tragedy that has proven all too common during this pandemic, with his mother sadly passing away despite the best efforts of hospital staff.
In an incredibly brave and no doubt difficult moment during the interview, Ian described the moment he came around and how he learned of the devastating news.
“I came around and I was asking for my daughter and my mother. My sisters didn’t want the news coming from anyone but a family member.
“They couldn’t get into the ward in person. My sister video-called me and broke the news about mam.
“I relive it quite a bit. She died four days before I came out of the coma. I will take it to my own grave that I couldn’t go to my own mother’s funeral. I was so close to her but I couldn’t see her.”
“I left my home fighting for my life and I never saw my mother again.”
A total of 1,749 people have died in Ireland as a result of Covid-19.
1,749 fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. Gone but never forgotten.