GIVEN her long list of underlying medical conditions, Sorcha McElchar was understandably over the moon to receive the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine today.
Sorcha, from Drumdoit, Castlefin, was among the early arrivals at the mass vaccination centre at LyIT this morning.
Picture: Sorcha McElchar after receiving her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination in Letterkenny from her cousin Lorriane Guthrie who was the first person in Donegal to recevied the vaccine. (North West Newspix)
When Sorcha was four, she was diagnosed with APECED – or autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy to give it its proper title – an inherited autoimmune disease, from which she has had to deal with a series of health issues.
She told Donegal Daily: “It’s such a rare disease, it doesn’t manifest the same in everyone. It’s a genetic disease and my immune system attacks hormone-producing glands.”
Sorcha has Type 1 diabetes, Addison’s disease, hypothyroidism, has ulcers in her eyes and she also suffers from a serious intestinal malabsorption issue. Sorcha also has to deal with pernicious anemia and alopecia areata.
She said: “I have a lot of underlying conditions so I would always have been used to having sanitiser around flue season.
“If I had to go into hospital and there was an infection going around, I’d wear a mask.
“During Covid, everyone is just doing what I’ve been used to.
“It will be nice soon when everyone is able to go out, meet up and not have to wear the mask. Just for another wee while, hopefully people will do their bit.”
Sorcha’s vaccine was administered by her cousin, Lorraine Guthrie, a Clinical Nurse Manager who was the first person in Letterkenny University Hospital to receive a vaccine in January.
Sorcha said: “I felt fine. I’m quite used to getting injections and all so I wasn’t worried about it.
“I’ll feel safer going out now, but it’ll be 12 weeks until I get the second dose.
“We still have to wear masks, use sanitiser and keep distance, but the vaccine is just that wee bit of extra protection.”
She credits the early intervention of Professor O’Keefe at Temple Street Children’s Hospital with preventing her from going blind. “When I was really young, I couldn’t go out in the sun at all. I would have to walk behind my parents, basically with my face in their backs. That was tough, but I’m much better now.”
Her granny, Mary McMenamin, was also vaccinated today and Sorcha is longing for the day they can share a hug again.
She said: “My granny has been isolating to keep her safe. I can’t wait to give her a big hug.
“We were joking today that we’ll be able to go off for a big holiday now that we’re vaccinated!
“I miss my friends and not being able to meet anyone outside of my bubble too.”
Sorcha – who writes ‘Sorcha’s Healthy Living’ column on Donegal Daily – recently graduated from Letterkenny Institute of Technology with a degree in Food Science and Nutrition and plans now to go to UCD for get a Masters in dietetics.
She said: “Food has always been a difficulty for me with my intestinal failure so I’ve always been looking for ways of getting food and nutrients.
“I always had an interest in nutrition and what the dietician was telling me.”
Sorcha enjoys exploring Donegal’s beaches and a trip to Ballymastocker Beach is high on the agenda for the summer.
She said: “I love Ballymastocker – it’s an absolutely beautiful beach. It’ll be nice to do stuff like that again. When the 5k limit is lifted, I can’t wait to go to the beach. I can’t swim because of the tubes I have in for feeding, but I love just going for a nice quiet walk along the beach.
“I like going to the bookshops just to browse the different books too. It will be good to do simple things like that again, getting back out and meeting people.”Tags: