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‘Complacency is not an option’

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RECOVERING Kilmeena GAA club photographer Martin McIntyre is recovering from Covid-19. The retired teacher describes how his energy levels were dramatically reduced.

Edwin McGreal

On Friday, August 20 Martin McIntyre wasn’t feeling his normal self.
The well-known retired secondary school teacher found his usual zip wasn’t there.
He turned 72 last Saturday but the Belmullet native would shame many people half his age with his energy levels.
But not that weekend.
With no improvement on the Saturday, he booked a test for the Sunday. While he had been extremely careful with his interactions and movements and is double vaccinated, he knew what his body was telling him.
“I wasn’t complacent. I was observing protocol. I was quite discreet about it but I wasn’t going into groups and was being very careful in shops. I honestly don’t know where I picked it up from. None of my contacts had any symptoms but it is so virulent,” he told The Mayo News.
The positive test came back within 48 hours and the days and weeks that followed were not easy.  
“The coughing was the hardest part for me. I couldn’t carry out a conversation at all without coughing almost constantly.
“I wasn’t able to sleep a lot of nights either with the coughing. I was put on steroids and that seemed to counteract it. I was on an antibiotic too. The coughing induced a chest infection,” he explained.
Martin and his wife Ann had to isolate at their home in Roscahill, Kilmeena and their family delivered whatever supplies they needed.
“Ten days is the length we were supposed to isolate but we gave it a bit more than that,” he said.

Getting back to himself
Nearly two months later, Martin McIntyre is still feeling the effects of the virus.
“I’m slowly easing my way back. I’m not doing any serious exertions. The body simply wouldn’t take it. My energy gets depleted very quickly, even now.
“I’m told it might maybe take another five to six weeks before I am back to normal. I’m quite content with that and patient. I’m getting back to myself all the time.
“I’m giving it to Christmas to be back to full strength to be honest. Maybe, as my family have encouraged, perhaps this is a message to slow down.”
Martin taught Constructions Studies and Technical Drawing, as well as serving as Vice Principal and Acting Principal, at Rice College, Westport.
He is also well known in GAA circles. His photography work for Kilmeena GAA club is the envy of clubs all over the county and three weeks after he tested positive a big date loomed on the GAA calendar, the All-Ireland Football Final. He got the doctor’s imprimatur to go but it was a trip with a difference, as he explains.  
“I left home at 9am and stopped several times on the way up. I got into Croke Park early and I did not let out one shout or roar during the game. I knew my energy levels would be completely depleted if I did that,” he said. The return trip the next day, Sunday, required the same level of attention.
Having witnessed first hand the impact of Covid, his advice for people from his own experience is simple.
“What I would say is complacency is not an option. You might feel it is beyond you, that you won’t suffer. Maybe you will, perhaps you won’t, but it can have a detrimental effect on your family and close contacts. We all need to be careful. I would encourage those that are hesitant about receiving the vaccine to think again about the effects your decision may have on those close to you. There is so much misinformation out there surrounding Covid-19 that it beggars belief. A worldwide conspiracy is a term I hear regularly proffered. If it is, it’s the best organised global collusion that I’m aware of occurring in my lifetime.
“By the same token, to their credit, it’s encouraging to note that the latest figures show a vaccine take-up in the adult population of over 90 percent despite the misleading rumours surrounding the immunisation programme.
“You have to listen to your body and listen to the professional advice. It is not being given lightly; we cannot be smug and self-righteous. We must continue to observe the protocols.”