Cork granddad recovers from Covid-19 in time for 66th birthday

Michelle Twomey with her dad Tommy Nagle at his recent retirement party.

A grandfather of 10 has celebrated his 66th birthday at home after recovering from Covid-19 with his family stressing the importance of giving hope to people whose loved ones are struck down by the virus.

Tommy Nagle, a recently retired maintenance worker at the Bons Secours Hospital in Cork, started to become ill at his home in Whitechurch three weeks ago. He has an ongoing chest complaint and was prescribed antibiotics by his GP.

His daughter Michelle Twomey said that her father started to self-isolate a few days before he had any symptoms of coronavirus. He had watched a number of reports on the illness and wanted to protect his family and the wider community.

Michelle, who lives next door to her father, became increasingly concerned about his symptoms.

"His fever got worse. He was hot but not hot. Cold but not cold. He had the stove on and the windows open.

He was going from one to the other and I found him very forgetful which he isn't at all. I now know he was delirious.

"He was still mobile and able to make his own breakfast. His flu like symptoms became quite bad and after five or six days he became unsteady on his feet.

"He rang his GP. He got antibiotics from the doctor. A few days later he took to his bed and he didn't come out of his bed until we shifted him to hospital the following Sunday."

When Mr Nagle was ill at home his older brother, Sylvie, passed away from cancer.

Michelle said her father was unable to drag himself from bed for the removal or funeral.

"I had to tell my dad through a window that his brother Sylvie had a couple of hours to live. I knew there was something radically wrong when dad couldn't even get up to go to the removal home or the funeral. He didn't get to grieve for his brother. He was so sick."

Michelle said she knew that her father required urgent care at the two-week point when a really harsh cough kicked in.

Tommy has to have a mucus draining procedure every four months arising out of his chest condition. He also has angina.

Mrs Twomey said things really began to move quickly once she convinced her father that he needed to go to hospital.

"I went to him when he was two weeks sick and I looked at him and I said ‘What is wrong with you?’ His eyes were bloodshot and he said he was finding it hard to breathe. I told him we had to make a move and he was going to hospital.

I rang the HSE helpline and they talked me through it. They were amazing.

"This was Sunday two weeks ago. Within an hour my dad was in the Mercy Hospital. He was tearing up because his breathing was very unstable."

Michelle says that her father got an awful fright when he saw the gowned up nurses at Mercy University Hospital (MUH). Her brother had to stay in the car as his father was put on oxygen inside.

A Covid-19 test was found to be positive. Her father was placed in isolation. Then the real worry and anxiety commenced.

    The latest restrictions in operation since Friday, March 27 mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:
  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice social distancing

She said: "The care and the attention in the Mercy Hospital was just unbelievable. Dad could have went one way or the other.

"There were two men (with Covid-19) in ICU who were in their forties. There was someone praying for dad which we feel was (his brother) Sylvie who had just passed away.

"My dad had a huge bond with Sylvie.

They released him on Saturday evening and he turned 66 on the Sunday.

Michelle says it is vital that people see positive outcomes in the midst of all the tragedy and suffering being experienced nationwide.

"This is a happy ending. I just want to give older people a bit of hope. It is a happy story and it is important to get those stories out there.

"My dad is a very active man. He was the union rep in Bon Secours as well as working there. Everyone knows him.

"He is making a good recovery. He has gone back in to 14 more days of isolation. He is far more mobile and his colour is back.

"He said to me that when he went down the drive he really didn't think he would see his front door again. He really thought he was going to die."

Michelle said when her brother drove her father back home to Whitechurch all of the kids were out in the drive with banners. She can't wait until she can give him a hug.

Michelle said:

I am dying to go in and give him a hug. Particularly after not being able to hug him when I told him his brother was dead.

"I am looking forward to being able to sit down down with him on a Saturday night to watch 'The Voice'.

"My dad has 10 grandchildren even though he only had two children. We are like the Brady Bunch. My dad is my hero all my life. I can't put in to words what he means to us. He would be very well liked in the community.

"Myself and my dad go to all the concerts at Live at the Marquee and all the tribute nights in Cork Opera House. We call them our 'jags'. I have more date nights with my dad than I do my husband. He likes Billy Ocean and Simply Red.

"My dad would normally be driving as he is still very young and active. He loves sports and more sports. He goes to all of the children's matches. He loves Manchester City and GAA. I can't wait to see him get back to normal."

Michelle has urged the public to really get behind social distancing and staying at home in order to safeguard the health of members of society like her father.

"Please social distance. Please stay at home. Stay safe."

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024