A WOMAN with leukemia in St James's Hospital has given a stark account of how, because of Covid-19, she has not seen her husband or sons since before she was diagnosed.
Elaine Scully (42) from Carlow has acute leukemia and is receiving chemotherapy in the Dublin hospital.
Staff only enter the room for essential medical procedures and as much as possible, patients care for themselves by checking their own pulse and taking their own blood pressure and temperature. Meals are left outside their hospital room door for patients to collect.
Ms Scully said that since starting chemo, she has not been able to see her husband or her sons Jack and Dylan.
"I finished eight days of chemo last night," she said.
"On this ward they are very careful because the patients are all transplant patients with low immune systems so they are always careful, but they've had to change things drastically a the same time.
"The fact you can't even have visitors, no one can hold your hand and you've to pull yourself back together so you can get through it. I feel like this is something that's going to be part of history but I feel like I'm separate to it. I'm living a different kind of experience than everyone at home.
Ms Scully was speaking on RTÉ Investigates: Inside Ireland's Covid Battle, which airs tonight with a behind the scenes look inside St James's Hospital.
The programme hears accounts from bone marrow transplant patients going through weeks in solitary isolation with the bare minimum of human physical contact.
The long term physical and psychological impact of the virus on young nurses and healthcare assistants. The documentary visits the Emergency Department where after a lull, the number of patients is rapidly returning to pre-Covid levels.
Because of the lowered immune systems of the bone marrow transplant patients, like Ms Scully, human contact is kept to a bare minimum.
The Carlow woman said that her husband was not allowed to enter the hospital with her for her diagnosis, and since then she hasn't been able to see her family.
"It's missing human contact. You're given this awful diagnosis and you can't give hugs," she said.
"I love hugs so that's what I miss the most. It's funny, one of my nurses has cold hands but I love when she's my nurse because I can feel her on my skin when she's doing my drip. I might get a rub of her cold hand on my arm and that simple little touch makes me feel that I'm not on my own.
"It's awful because when I went into A&E I had to go in on my own, you couldn't bring anyone with you so it was the last I saw of him and in normal circumstances, when you are diagnosed with something like this, both of us would be told together," she continued.
"I'm very lucky that every single night I have a FaceTime call with my sons and my husband at 7 o'clock.
"I'm thankful that they're not little. I'm not leaving little children behind. I don't think that I could do that, I really couldn't."