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."
Her worries about her leg worsening without treatment are compounded by her fear of what would happen if she got the coronavirus, given that her illness has weakened her immune system. She relies on her local stroke support group, organised through the Irish Heart Foundation, for updates on the health service that keep her sane through the coronavirus crisis.
Troubling as Majella's situation is, she is one of the luckier ones.
Bernie Walsh has endured a month of sleepless nights not knowing whether or when she would get an appointment for a CT scan that will confirm whether or not the cancer medication she has been on since January is actually working. Bernie, who lives in Clonee in west Dublin, said the last few weeks have been among the most stressful times in the long trajectory of her cancer journey. She has metastatic breast cancer. She was diagnosed in 2012 and after four a half-years in remission, the cancer returned.
She has been on new medication since January and is desperate to know whether she is responding to it. She got an appointment with an oncologist, which is usually preceded by a CT scan but not in a world under siege from the coronavirus. When she pressed for a scan, she was told there was a priority waiting list.
"I said 'you can't do this to me. I need to know that the tablets I'm on and my treatment, I need to know that it's working," she said.
"There have been nights in the past few weeks when I have been up sitting in my sitting room at three in the morning," she said. "It was stress. I was just so worried."
Bernie finally got her CT scan last week but won't know her results until this week. "In my head, I needed to have that scan, just to know I've had it, I'll be grand, I can continue for another three months. And if the results are bad, grand they'll have something else they can put me on - so put me on it. I just don't want it left to go that far that there is nothing anyone can do about it. And that's my fear, that's my biggest fear," she said.
Her other pressing fear is Covid-19. "I am just terrified of what is going to happen now when the Taoiseach gets up there on May 5, and he might take the foot off the pedal and that's what I'm worried about," she said. "If this gets worse, which I think it will do, I think that Covid patients may take priority over me."
For the stroke victim waiting for her leg to get better, life slows down. For the seriously ill cancer patient, the future becomes more uncertain. Welcome to sickness in a time of the coronavirus - patients with debilitating medical conditions who are struggling to get treatment in a health system focused on Covid-19.
Hospitals have been transformed. Trolley waits are virtually eliminated. Patients who could be discharged were, wards were transformed into sealed Covid-19 hotspots and emergency departments created with Covid-19 and non-Covid pathways for patients.
A lot of the new efficiency is due to elective or scheduled procedures being cancelled and outpatients' clinics closed. Diagnostic tests and screening for bowel, breast and cervical cancers have been suspended, which may carry its own risks.
Nevertheless, the health system is officially open for non-Covid business. GPs are begging their patients to come forward if they have symptoms. Cancer patients, critical cases and emergencies like strokes, burst appendix or people injured in car accidents, all are still being treated in hospitals.
But such is the perceived fear of the coronavirus that even those with critical symptoms are not coming forward for treatment. Doctors have been asking with some disquiet: where have all the sick patients gone?
They certainly haven't gone away. On March 26, 562,000 people were waiting for outpatient appointments in hospitals, an increase on 556,000 in January, according to the National Treatment Purchase Fund. More than 77,000 people were waiting for inpatient and day case procedures, up 10,000 on the numbers waiting in January 30.
There are growing fears that the next wave to hit the health service may not be from Covid-19 patients, but those people who couldn't or wouldn't access treatment because of the coronavirus.
"The problems we had in our health system before we had Covid-19 are still with us as we go through the pandemic, they are just not visible because patients are not coming forward for treatment," said Stephen McMahon, director of the Irish Patients Association.
Right now, one of the biggest challenges for patients and doctors is the perceived fear of the coronavirus.
More than 50 major cancer surgeries were performed on public patients in the private hospitals at St Vincent's and the Mater since the coronavirus took over the health system, according to Professor Donal Brennan, consultant obstetrician and gynaecological oncologist at the Mater and St Vincent's hospitals. Yet patients who should be seen are still keeping away.
"We have seen patients who for a variety of different reasons have not been able to proceed with planned surgery because they have been in contact with Covid-19 cases," he said.
"But we have also had patients who themselves have decided not to proceed with surgery because of this perceived risk, this perceived fear of going to the hospital."
They include women who have decided not to go ahead with planned surgeries, despite medical advice, he said. Others have reported abnormal bleeding or other "high risk" symptoms that require urgent attention yet decided against treatment.
One of the big tasks of the health service is to persuade the sick but terrified back into the health system.
"We're going to have to learn to live with this thing. This isn't going away and we're going to have to be able to provide services for non-Covid people, alongside services for Covid patients as well," he said.
For kidney patients more than most, hospitals in the time of Covid-19 can be worrying places. Dialysis patients are particularly vulnerable, according to the chief executive of the Irish Kidney Association, Mark Murphy.
Around 2,000 dialysis patients attend hospitals three times a week. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, around 1,000 people a day will be "on the move" to and from dialysis units. "There is Covid-19 in some dialysis units and some of them have got it. A few have died from it, so the protection given to them has changed," he said. Fewer than 50 dialysis patients have contracted Covid-19, he said. Fifteen dialysis patients have died. The HSE says the mortality rate in this cohort is approximately 25pc.
"Where they would previously have gone together in taxis, they are now going in a single car or driving themselves. They are a vulnerable group and do not do well if they get Covid," he said. "How do you stop the spread of it in a unit?"
Although the coronavirus has pushed back imminent life-changing surgeries, for some families, the wait is worth it.
Kerrieanne O'Sullivan had planned to donate one of her kidneys to her teenage son, William, this summer. She was due at Beaumont Hospital on April 1 to be checked over by the transplant team and all going well, William (18) was scheduled to have the transplant over the summer. Kerrianne's appointment was cancelled.
It looks like William's transplant is now at least three weeks behind schedule. He and his family are optimistic, and slightly relieved. Kerrieanne says delaying "absolutely is the right thing to do" given the risks posed by the coronavirus.
"William is really well. He is on peritoneal dialysis. The team in Tallaght [where he goes to a renal clinic] is brilliant. As soon as my work-up is done, and if a cancellation becomes available, we will be good to go. Once they ring us we will be there in an hour. As long as he is well and at home it's OK. It's not ideal, he is young and has renal failure but now it is about keeping him as fit, well and as healthy as possible until everything comes back around again - because it will come back around."
The coronavirus has changed how patients are being treated too. Particularly patients with advanced cancers.
Cancer treatments come with risks as well as benefits, said Professor John Crown, an oncologist at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin.
"In the current circumstances, however, the risk side of that equation is tilted because there's an additional risk associated with the mere fact that, before you get the treatment at all, there's a risk associated with leaving your house, your isolation, your cocoon and coming into a hospital," he said.
Doctors are also "easing off" on the more intense treatments to decrease a patient's risk of ending up in what is possibly a dangerous hospital emergency room suffering from side effects. But the biggest impact of the coronavirus is not on those being treated, but those who aren't, he said.
"The biggest impact is going to be on all the people who are going to have delayed diagnosis of cancer, people who are at home, worried, biting their fingernails away because they've been told they have cancer and they are waiting for their cancer operation and in a lot of hospitals around the country surgery has just stopped," he said.
The expected surge of Covid-19 patients has not materialised - yet - and last Friday, 1,664 hospital beds were empty. The health service needs to start re-opening, urgently, said Professor Crown. When it does "unwind", he said, "a system that was already grotesquely underprovided for the job it was supposed to do, is going to find itself in extraordinary difficulty, facing extraordinary challenges."
Unless drastic changes are made to funding healthcare, inequality and inefficiency in the service will remain.
Probably most doctors hope that what ever the post-Covid landscape, the health system will not return to its previous creaking form. Professor Brennan points out that there can be no more overcrowded outpatients' clinics, patients will be seen via telemedicine and phone consultations, and apps monitoring Covid-19 patients will be deployed to wider use in the community.
That's the future. Hospitals are making plans for a gradual resumption of medical services. In parallel, non-Covid patients have to be encouraged back into the system. "There is so much more going on than Covid-19 and I think there is going to be a huge negative fallout from this if we keep going the way are going," said Helen Forristal, director of the Marie Keating Foundation, who believes patients have to be actively encouraged back to their GPs.
"We're living in a different world now. There will have to be an awful lot of new measures put in place in order to bring the system back into action in a safe way."
The exhausting threat of the coronavirus has made life harder for patients navigating the health service.
Laarni Beattie, from Roscommon, a mother of 12-year-old twins, is recovering from breast cancer and caring for her husband who is recovering from a brain tumour and a stroke.
Given both their illnesses, she is frightened of contracting the coronavirus and was terrified about attending a follow-up appointment for her breast cancer last week.
"If something happens to me, this household will collapse because my family depends on me. I'm working, I'm a full-time carer at the same time for my husband and I have two kids. So that's the one that's really at the back of my mind."
Laarni set off for her appointment last Friday, with changes of shoes, changes of clothes, gloves and a mask, hoping that she would not have to wait a couple of hours, as she often did, in a room with strangers. "That is the only thing that I can do. There is no way I will get my appointment back if I don't go."
In the days before she died in 1963, tuberculosis had consigned my grandmother to solitude. Restricted to a room that had been sealed off from the rest of her family's cottage in rural Co Wexford, her lungs were close to collapse, her body weakened by years of pulmonary infection and isolation in Brownswood sanatorium, just south of Enniscorthy, one of the county's larger towns.
It will be two months this week since the first case of coronavirus, Covid-19, was diagnosed in Ireland. The days seem to have passed slowly but time has moved apace all the same. Depending on the relative circumstances of our isolation, many will be surprised that it has been a full two months since that case came to light. Much has happened since, not least the tragic deaths of more than 1,000 people, most of them elderly, infirm and unwell and many with underlying illnesses. Their deaths have left a void inside the lives of family and friends, the pain of their passing exacerbated by the specific circumstances in each case and the inability to mourn and grieve according to the comforting rituals of this country. In due time there should be a national commemoration to mark this great loss and to acknowledge the suffering of those left behind. In time, but first the country must come through the next phase of what is a great national trauma.