Long Covid: ‘I tear up when I realise that I cannot read any more’ – The Irish Times

For Frank Fahy, everything changed with this year’s Scottish Grand National. Then, a 69-year-old relatively fit man living on the first floor of an apartment block in Barna, County Galway, he tested positive after returning from a trip to Ayr for the famous race last April.

Ever since, he has battled significant health issues.

“Instead of backing the winner of the Scottish Grand National, I got Covid-19. I thought that after April 15th, everything would go back to normal and that everything would be fine.

“Unfortunately, my troubles only started to happen then,” says Fahy.

In 2013, he had four stents put into his heart, but had minimal health problems otherwise.

However, once he contracted Covid-19, he has been plagued with numerous issues, affecting his heart, adrenal glands, lungs and rheumatoid arthritis.

Before 1st of April I was 69 years of age, after 1st April I was 96 years of age

“It affected all my organs. A year ago, the last time I got checked, everything was perfect. The four stents I had in were working perfectly, it was fine,” he says.

Today, he is cursed with a lung infection that he has now been told he could have for the rest of his life.

During his working career, Fahy was a publisher, and remained an avid reader after he retired. Or, at least, he was until Covid struck. Since then, he has been left with a severe mental fog, unable to do what he loves most.

“Everything is an effort. Before 1st of April I was 69 years of age, after 1st April I was 96 years of age,” he tells The Irish Times. “Everything I ever did was book oriented and now I find myself, I tear up when I realise that I cannot read any more, I cannot take it in.

“My whole life has changed 360 degrees. I would start a Netflix movie thinking ‘Oh, this looks good,’ and then going, ‘Who is she again? Is she his daughter?’ and it all jumbles up. I have broken down and cried.”

In 2017, he set up the Write-On group to help amateur writers based in Galway. Following the pandemic, the group moved online, and has since gathered members from as far as New Zealand, the United States and Australia.

Most recently, Fahy accepted a nomination for an award celebrating voluntary activity in Galway’s community life from Mayor of Galway Colette Connolly, honouring the work done by Write On since its creation.

For the first time since the group was set up, however, Fahy has had to hire an editor to edit the remainder of the Write-On project’s 2023 Anthology, which the group has published yearly since 2019.

“I am one of the most precise people I ever knew in my life. I often had bets with people, ‘If you can find one mistake in my manuscript, I’ll give you a euro.’ I never lost a euro. I was very good. Now I can’t even write a text,” he says.

Having received a number of treatments for his lung issues in the weeks following his isolation, Fahy says he borders on “frenzied activity” while on strong doses of steroids, left unable to sleep for weeks.

“I got very little sleep from April 15th until, finally, a couple of weeks ago, I started to sleep again. I don’t have the mental acuity that I did before, it affected my relationships with people, with family.”

I have not given up, but I am prepared for what is going to happen next

Fahy’s only son, Stephen, is getting married at the end of August in Portugal. Because of his condition, Fahy is no longer able to attend.

“I am physically not able to cope. It’s his and his new wife’s day, and the last thing I want is for them to be worrying about did daddy fall down the stairs, or did I get stuck in the toilet. I do not want them worrying about me,” he says.

“I was due to play the guitar for him at the wedding, but I cannot play the guitar at the moment because my fingers are all swelled up and scrunched because of the rheumatoid arthritis. But, I have told him, and I have explained, and he understands.”

However, Fahy has experienced kindness throughout his hardships.

“Leonard Fay, the manager of Supervalu downstairs, has been more than excellent as a good Samaritan, as a human being and as a friend. His people bring up the groceries every week,” Fahy says.

“On the days where I am very bad, they say, ‘Frank, will we put it into the freezer for you?’ They have the run of the place, saying, ‘Oh we’ll put that in the fridge for you, we’ll put the cold stuff away’, and without them, life would be very different.”

Even Fahy’s dog, Cailín, who is less than a year old, has realised that Fahy is not as fit as he once was.

“She knows at this stage, and she stops every three steps, and she waits for me. Wonderful intuition, and she just sits while I breathe and get enough energy to do the next few, and she goes and she waits again,” he says. A dog walker now comes several times a week.

Fahy has also found common ground with his brother, John, who is also suffering from post-Covid complications in the Canary Islands: “He rings up from time to time to compare notes, and he got [Covid] pretty bad as well. In a strange way it has brought us closer together, as we now have something in common to talk about.”

Knowing that things may not be solved overnight, Fahy remains realistic.

“I have not given up, but I am prepared for what is going to happen next. All I can do is what they ask me to do, and that is take one appointment at a time,” he says.

“My grasp on this life is not such that I either fear or have expectations for what is inevitably to come, and it will come – I don’t know anyone who has survived this life.”

This content was originally published here.