The third wave that pushed Irish hospitals to the brink – RTE.ie

But Fred still gets tired and short of breath easily, and suffers from brain fog, a frequently reported symptom of so-called "Long Covid".

"I used to walk corridors a lot. When I came into work, I'd park the car, walk the wards all day to discuss patients' journeys," Fred said.

"But then I got sick. Every time I come in the door of the hospital it always comes back to me what happened."

On days when May feels overcome by extreme anxiety, she is propelled by jolts of adrenaline by the time she arrives into the ICU.

She has faith in God, but also in her personal protective equipment.

"I start to forget being so scared," she said. "You have to do your work and you have to care for the patient."

May's husband, Alberto, is also a nurse in Tallaght University Hospital's ICU. They are the only married couple in the unit.

Without a child minder and far away from family support in the Philippines May and Alberto alternate their working lives to look after their two young children.

A series of tanks on the northern end of the hospital's campus part of its bulk storage system hold thousands of litres of liquid oxygen, which is stored at 180C.

Much like the virus itself, the way in which doctors treat Covid-19 is constantly evolving. In the early days of the pandemic, a huge proportion of seriously ill patients who needed oxygen were placed on mechanical ventilation.

But being put on a ventilator involves sedation, and sometimes requires doctors to induce short-term paralysis which can weaken a patient's respiratory muscles, in turn hampering or even preventing recovery.

Ventilators are still used in the extreme cases. But, since the first surge, non-invasive ventilation, which provides pressurised oxygen through a mask, has become a crucial component of the medical arsenal offering breathing support with fewer downsides.

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