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‘Covid was petrifying: I have always been afraid of dying. But I didn’t really care now – being alive was more terrifying’

Enduring the painful, deadly grip of Covid-19 shook Marie Louise O’Donnell to her very core, and learning that a much-loved relative had died from the disease while she was still fighting it was a devastating blow. But as she recovered, she found solace in prayer, the past and the kindness of others

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Marie Louise O’Donnell is an Irish academic and broadcaster, who served as a Senator from 2011 to 2020. PHOTO: GERRY MOONEY

Marie Louise O’Donnell is an Irish academic and broadcaster, who served as a Senator from 2011 to 2020. PHOTO: GERRY MOONEY

Marie Louise O’Donnell is an Irish academic and broadcaster, who served as a Senator from 2011 to 2020. PHOTO: GERRY MOONEY

I felt unwell. Very unwell. I couldn’t source the unwellness. Only that I had no energy. No strength. No vigour. It went on for days and gradually got worse until I hadn’t the strength to go to the back room, turn in the bed or drink a cup of tea. Everything I tried to do was a breathing and moving effort never experienced before. I couldn’t catch my energy. I couldn’t find it. It was disappearing and getting lighter and more vague as the hours passed. I became terrified.

Then the pains in my head began. First at the side above my ear piercing my skull like samurai swords and gradually sweeping across my crown and down my neck. A full scale battle.


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