'I was struggling to breathe': Meet the Cork martial artist who took on the coronavirus and beat it

'I was struggling to breathe': Meet the Cork martial artist who took on the coronavirus and beat it
Kevin O'Sullivan was admitted to CUH due to complications from Covid-19 before returning home to his family in Midleton almost a week ago.

A MARTIAL arts expert who took on coronavirus and won is enjoying his first taste of freedom after being discharged from hospital.

Kevin O'Sullivan was admitted to Cork University Hospital due to complications from Covid-19 before returning home to his family in Midleton almost a week ago. 

Now, that he is finished self-isolating, the Cork man is looking forward to opening his new tattoo business when restrictions are lifted.

The father-of-two had closed his martial arts school to pursue tattoo artistry before the pandemic hit. After he and his wife both contracted Covid-19 life became even more complicated. 

The former martial arts instructor said his children were unable to access testing but both experienced symptoms as well. He recalled the day his symptoms grew too strong to manage at home.

"I was starting to get into the recovery but wasn't recovering fast enough. On day 14 I was still struggling to breathe. 

"It had got to a stage where the illness had made me exhausted. I was so tired and weak. Once it attacks your lungs you are susceptible to pneumonia and that's what happened to me. 

Kevin O'Sullivan at his home in Midleton following his recovery from covd-19.
Kevin O'Sullivan at his home in Midleton following his recovery from covd-19.

"It was a scary moment when I knew I had to slow down and say; 'I give up'. I need the support and I need to go to hospital. 

"I had pneumonia when I was 21. However, this time was different given the current situation. When the reality is added, that can be difficult because you're telling yourself; 'I'm going into hospital with this' and wondering if you are going to come out. 

"The first day of treatment, however, I could feel myself rallying. 

"I knew I was getting the support that I needed."

Up to that point Kevin and his family had been touched by various random acts of kindness from their neighbours.

"We battened down the hatches but still had the support of our neighbours who would leave essentials with notes like 'just in case you need it' or 'a little something to keep you going'. 

"One person even left two ceramic hearts outside our gate to keep our spirits up." 

The family also helped one another through that difficult period.

"We have always been a strong family. This was one of our strengths that helped us get through it," Kevin said.

Kevin spoke of the dedication of Cork University Hospital staff who he said went above and beyond for their patients.

"A few ended up getting it and spending time in these beds themselves, but are back doing what they are doing again in spite of all the challenges," he said of the nurses there. 

"Being able to witness brave people putting their lives at risk to help others was something special in a way. 

"It's not something you see every day. 

"There are a lot of foreign nationals working on the frontline in Cork. 

"I feel that, in many ways, it is a lot more difficult for them because this is happening and they are so far from home." 

Kevin, who also suffers with arthritis, spoke of how lucky who he was in comparison with severely affected patients.

"You are witness to the care these people get and it's exceptional. 

"At times I was embarrassed to be getting asked if I need anything because there were people with a much tougher battle on their hands."

He puts much of his recovery down to a positive attitude.

"If you are lucky enough to be able to recover from Covid-19 a negative attitude makes that recovery harder to overcome. 

"Having all the support helped a lot. Even SBG in Cork where I train were incredible to me. They have been like a family."

One of Kevin's concerns was that some might shy away from seeking medical advice due to a perceived stigma around the condition. 

He urged those experiencing symptoms to avoid panic and instead confide in professionals. 

He referred to one message he received on Facebook from a panicked social media user.

"From the way in which she composed her message I could tell this woman was frightened. 

"She had the condition herself and was looking for advice. 

"I explained that the people she needed to be directing her questions towards are GPs and health professionals."

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