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'Getting home here to Agnes is a dream' - Billy (86)

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Recovered Billy Waldron back at home, much to the joy of wife Agnes. Photo: Keith Heneghan

Recovered Billy Waldron back at home, much to the joy of wife Agnes. Photo: Keith Heneghan

Photo : Keith Heneghan / Phocus

Recovered Billy Waldron back at home, much to the joy of wife Agnes. Photo: Keith Heneghan

Sitting at home with his beloved wife Agnes, Billy Waldron is counting his blessings.

The 86-year-old fought and won a battle against the deadly coronavirus.

Reflecting on his ordeal, the Castlebar man believes he may have got his own "little miracle".

His voice breaking as he recounts the seemingly endless days and nights on his own in Mayo General Hospital, Billy says softly: "Getting home here to Agnes is what I dreamed of."

Billy was one of the first people in Mayo to contract Covid-19.

In March he was hospitalised for a week for a minor health issue. He recovered well and was released home. Within days, he developed symptoms of Covid-19.

"It was a loaded hand grenade that blew up in my face," he said.

"I was in the hospital for another ailment and spent one week there before I was discharged.

"Then before the week was out I felt really unwell. I had lost my taste and then other symptoms developed and took over.

"When I contacted my GP he said we had to go straight back to the hospital.

"I was tested and a couple of days later they said I had the virus. It hit me hard. I was at a very low ebb. I was miserable.

"The next thing the whole issue seemed to kick off in the hospital. They realised the virus had arrived and it was mayhem.

"There were people scurrying here and there, doctors and nurses running around, it was chaos. There I was thinking I was going somewhere safe and I was landed smack bang in the middle of this disease. Horror of horrors."

Faith

Billy found not being able to talk to or see his family the hardest.

"It was a horrendous experience. I was so ill and we are a very close-knit family and I missed them terribly," he said.

"I felt like I literally lost them. They disappeared off the face of the Earth. I wasn't allowed to see them or have any communication with the outside world.

"It was a couple of weeks before I could finally talk to them. That was wonderful."

Billy credits his survival with his strong faith, iron will and the great care he received.

"The longer it went on and the harder it came, the more I became able to come to grips with it. I decided very firmly I'd soldier on," he said.

"One of the nights I almost died, I decided I wasn't going to let the side down and roll over and die.

"So I quietly lay down and I committed myself to Our Lady of Knock and I said to her, 'If you take me out of this and give me back to my family and friends for another little while, I promise I will make some reparation in some form to you'. I got wonderful peace of mind.

"I think I was allowed to avail of a miracle.

"The next morning, it was the strangest thing, this wonderful nurse sailed into me, in all the protective gear - frightening-looking really - and she said, 'Oh my God William, the change in you since yesterday, you look fantastic'."

"Between that and all the wonderful care, I am here today. These frontline people are unbelievable. They are such heroes. I will be forever grateful and thankful to them all."