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Sickness in the shadow of pandemic: non-coronavirus patients struggle in a health system focused on Covid-19

Patients with debilitating illnesses struggle in a health system focused on Covid-19, report Maeve Sheehan and Wayne O'Connor

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THE IMPORTANT THING IS SURVIVING: Bernie Walsh at home in Clonee, west Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

THE IMPORTANT THING IS SURVIVING: Bernie Walsh at home in Clonee, west Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Majella Meehan.  Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Majella Meehan. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

TRANSPLANT: Kerrianne O’Sullivan and her son William

TRANSPLANT: Kerrianne O’Sullivan and her son William

BREAST CANCER: Roscommon woman Laarni Beattie. Photo: Kevin Mc Nulty

BREAST CANCER: Roscommon woman Laarni Beattie. Photo: Kevin Mc Nulty

Kevin Mc Nulty

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THE IMPORTANT THING IS SURVIVING: Bernie Walsh at home in Clonee, west Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

There is little danger of Majella Meehan straying beyond her two-kilometre limit when she takes exercise every day. She walks with a stick and her right leg drags slightly behind her. After a couple of hundred metres, her leg tires and she has to stop and rest.

Her difficulty results from a stroke she had last year. She was in hospital for four months, before she was finally well enough to go home to Monaghan town. She had to fight for physiotherapy, at one stage writing to her local politicians to help secure an appointment. She was finally set to start six weeks of sessions last month when Covid-19 happened. Not only was her physio shelved, but her first annual check-up since her stroke has been postponed until June.

Majella is worried. She is 55, relatively young, physiotherapy is essential to getting her fully mobile again. "It has not got worse, but it has not improved either. I am at a standstill," she said. "They say that with a stroke, the best recovery can be made in the first year to two years, so I would feel that the delay in physio is delaying my progress. There are only so many exercises I can do myself at home."


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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland