Farmer Harold’s Covid warning to colleagues

July 12th, 2022 7:05 AM

By Emma Connolly

Harold Kingston of Courtmacsherry now uses a stick to walk as a result of Covid 19. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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‘I USED to be able to easily walk 20,000 steps a day, but now I need the help of a stick to get around.’

That’s how Courtmacsherry farmer and IFA Munster regional chair Harold Kingston has described life after Covid-19 – which left him seriously ill in hospital.

Dairy farmer Harold experienced the typical symptoms associated with the virus when he was first struck down.

‘It was like a really bad flu. I had a temperature, sore throat, chills, headaches, and an aversion to noise and light,’ he said.

A few days later, the 53-year-old was trying to get back on his feet and back on the farm, but he experienced serious shortness of breath.

‘I went to my GP on day nine after testing positive, because I felt I should be feeling far better at that stage, but he suspected a clot on my lung and sent me to A&E in CUH immediately,’ said Harold.

The GP’s fears were correct and Harold was admitted to the hospital’s Covid ward, where he was kept for four days, and treated accordingly.

Back home, he’s still feeling the effects of the virus and is using a stick to help him get around the farm faster  – without it he’d have to move at a much slower pace.

Harold is not a smoker, doesn’t drink and described himself as previously being very fit.

‘I wouldn’t have run a marathon, but I’d have easily walked it,’ he said.

‘I need to take regular rests now, and I still have to sleep upright – I get a headache if I lie down,’ he said.

He’s sharing his Covid experience for two reasons – to encourage all farmers who are eligible for their vaccine booster to avail of it, and to encourage farmers to have a ‘Plan B’ in place if they’re unable to work due to Covid.

Harold has a part-time farm worker who stepped up while he was out of action, along with his son.

‘We use a simple whiteboard to communicate things like what animal might be on an antibiotic and that works well, and did so on this occasion. There are also various apps that allow you to stay in touch with what’s going on, even when you’re not physically there. It’s important, though, to get some system set up,’ he said. Despite being organised, Harold said he’s still had to delay some small jobs due to his ill-health, and he also paid a contractor to spread fertiliser.

IFA West Cork chair Donal O’Donovan, who also recently had Covid, repeated the need for famers to have a ‘Plan B.’

‘Relief milkers are like hen’s teeth at the moment so farmers need to make it as easy as possible for anyone who steps in to help if they can’t work,’ said Donal.

The IFA’s farm family and social affairs chair Alice Doyle has also appealed to those who are eligible to get their booster vaccines.

She said the demographic of the farming community suggested there are farmers who have yet to do this.

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