Covid-19: ‘All my perceived certainties of life were thrown into disarray’

Case studies: ‘I don’t want to go to a new doctor and explain the last 20 years of my care’

The Blackrock Clinic is being used by the State during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The Blackrock Clinic is being used by the State during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

In October 2017, Gerry Kenneally was diagnosed with bladder cancer. “All my perceived certainties of life were thrown into disarray –all that remained for me was a black hole full of uncertainty and despair,” he says. Throughout this time, and the eight surgeries it has encompassed, he says his “ally in the struggle to stay positive and stay alive” has been consultant Dr Hubert Gallagher.

When the deal was announced, Kenneally says the prospect of losing access to his consultant was deeply traumatic. “I was dealing with the stresses of cancer and the stress put on by Covid-19 . . . all of a sudden, to add to the tsunami, I have someone telling me we can’t carry out your procedure or, if we do, it could be with someone I’ve never met before.”

Dr Gallagher says he will continue seeing Kenneally in his clinics during the crisis, but there is uncertainty over what will happen if he needs more procedures.

Others, like Eileen Brady, are also facing uncertainty. She suffers from a condition called Addisons, an auto-immune disease which means the adrenal glands, which power the muscles, don’t work. It affects, among other things, heart function.

“Because of this deal, my consultant can’t look after me. I have a very rare condition which needs to be looked after by someone who knows me.” Her team has been taking care of her for 20 years, and her care involves changing doses and medicines depending on whether she comes across a situation which causes an “adrenal crisis”.

“My consultant is worried about me because the stress of not knowing where I’m to go or how I’m to be looked after could actually bring on a crisis,” she says. “I have spent 20 years organising my care; my life is well regulated and I have a healthy life. I don’t want to, at my age, go to a new doctor and explain the last 20 years of my care.”

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