‘This virus is not a flu’: Covid-19 survivor says he is fraction of former self

ireland
Pat Harty pictured at home with his wife Pamela. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson.
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By Elaine Keogh

A man with no underlying health problems who spent four weeks in intensive care due to Covid-19 says he will only ever be 80 per cent of the “picture of health” he was before.

Pat Harty (54) was admitted to hospital on April 21st during the first wave of the pandemic.

Four days later, he was placed in an induced coma and ventilated, while his family was told to prepare for the worst.

Mr Harty, a father of three from Drogheda, Co Louth, said he was previously a “picture of health” and had no underlying health problems before contracting the virus.

Early in his infection, the only symptom he experienced was fatigue, and he warned the virus is multiplying inside people before they realise they could be sick.

After being hospitalised for six weeks, Mr Harty now has hyperventilation syndrome which involves shortness of breath and fatigue.

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“I have gone from being a man who was fit and mobile and seldom sick and never in hospital, to one who will only ever be about 80 per cent of the man I was,” he said.

Pat Harty pictured before his illness at home in Drogheda with his wife Pamela, son Padraig and daughters Olivia and Nikita. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson.

“In hospital I was cardio-shocked to get my heart rate corrected and the doctors are working with me to get my breathing back to where it was prior to Covid-19.

“My lung function is only two-thirds of what it used to be. I also have an irregular heartbeat, brain fog and memory loss,” he added.

“I am working to improve my lung function but to give you an idea of where I am, I am 65 to 68 per cent of the man I used to be breathing wise.”

Mr Harty described Covid-19 as “somebody sitting on your chest when you are trying to breath, you just cannot get your breath.”

He said he has improved with time but his lung function remains very reduced, with doctors closely monitoring him since his discharge from hospital.

Christmas surge

Speaking from his home — which he now rarely leaves — Mr Harty said he believes he could catch the virus again and that the recent surge in cases is due in part to relaxing restrictions too quickly in early December.

“Christmas is an important time, it is for celebration and people coming together. All of that plays in favour of Covid, it is a breeding ground for the virus,” he said.

If you don’t like wearing a mask, you are certainly not going to like the ventilator

While the country is “trying to close the gate when the horse has bolted, I still think we can get it back to where it was but it will take time.”

Mr Harty said peopled needed to treat everybody else as if they had Covid-19, and the best way of fighting it together “is for us to stay apart.”

“You have to keep your distance from people. You have to wear a mask.”

“If you don’t like wearing a mask, you are certainly not going to like the ventilator. And take it from one who has experienced it and lived to tell the tale. This virus is not a flu.”

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