Laotian mum on the Covid-19 frontline in Portlaoise is Irish mum of the year



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Laois woman Louise Lynam won the prestigious 2021 Mum of the Year title at the Woman’s Way & Beko Mum of the Year Awards.

The Portlaoise native was named April ‘Mum of the Month’ and was named Mum of the Year at a special lunch at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dublin. Woman’s Way and Beko have teamed up for the sixth year in a row to host the awards, which showcase and celebrate Irish mothers and recognize their contribution to all facets of society.

Louise, single mother of two daughters, Jessica (15) and Kiera (9), has been working on the front line since the start of the pandemic as a nursing assistant in the accident and emergency department at the Midland Portlaoise regional hospital .

Louise took her role of protecting her children from exposure to Covid-19 extremely seriously, and for good reason. For months, she felt unable to kiss her daughter Kiera to wish her good night by putting her to bed.

Louise found out that Kiera had cystic fibrosis a few weeks after she was born. She was rushed to Crumlin Hospital because she had a bowel obstruction. It was there, through further testing, that Louise learned that Kiera had cystic fibrosis. Learning to cope with Kiera’s condition with the help of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland and Tallaght Hospital, Louise began to manage her little daughter’s medications, therapies and exams.

At age five, Kiera developed pseudomonas, a chronic lung infection that depleted her energy levels. She was taking strong antibiotics which had to be administered twice a day using a nebulizer. MORE BELOW THE PICTURE.

However, in 2018, following government lobbying by Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, a new drug called Orkambi was approved.

This drug has changed Kiera’s life tremendously – for the better. Despite this, as a single mom and frontline worker, Louise was understandably anxious to continue working in the emergency department while taking care of Kiera, but luckily she had a great support system to help her through. get through this difficult period.

“She has regained her energy. It was no longer dilapidated. If Kiera develops a cough now, the mucus builds up right away, whereas it used to take years, leaving her more exhausted than before.

Kiera still has an important skincare regimen each day which includes time on her nebulizer, respiratory physiotherapy (airway clearance) and up to 22 tablets per day. MORE BELOW THE PICTURE.

During the initial Covid lockdown, Louise was nervous about going to work in the ER, while looking after Kiera.

“It has been a very worrying and difficult time for me as a parent of a child in the high risk category. But once I learned more about the virus, I made a habit of being very careful. I changed, took a shower, boiled my clothes, and stayed away from Kiera for a few hours when I got home. It was so hard, but I needed to protect her.

Kiera is a bubbly little character, says Louise, who enjoys dancing and doing gymnastics. I asked her how difficult it was to tell Kiera that she could no longer attend these classes because of the virus.

“I remember last March, Kiera was going to celebrate her 8th birthday with all her friends, my heart broke having to tell her that it couldn’t be happening. However, my oldest daughter and I organized a little tea party for her and she loved it. Kiera really understands the importance of taking care of herself and staying safe, especially with all the pills she takes. She’s just an amazing little girl.

“She knew the importance of the virus and, because she was born with cystic fibrosis, she always used to disinfect her hands, wash her hands and wear a mask, so it didn’t. confused, luckily. It really shows how resilient little children are, “said Louise. More pictures below.

Earlier this year, Louise received the Covid vaccine, which was a huge relief for her.

“I know this means that I can now protect my family, especially Kiera, but also my co-workers and the community. I love taking care of others, I love my job in the ER because it is so rewarding, ”she said.

As a single mom and frontline worker, Louise is grateful for her support network.

“My management staff and colleagues across Covid have been so supportive, they were always aware of my situation at home with Kiera being at high risk. They watched me constantly.

“Being on my own for a few years now, I have very good family support – they help me with the kids when I’m working which is great. But I am still very independent and strong; I like to do everything for myself and especially for the girls ”, she declared. MORE BELOW THE IMAGE

Louise explained what it means to be a mother to her.

“Being a mother does a lot of things to me, it makes me proud, happy, excited but also worried, nervous and sometimes stressed,” laughs Louise. “But all these things put together, I would be nothing without my two daughters, I’m still proud of them. My goal as a mom is to always make them happy and proud and to be a good role model.

“Overall I’m so happy in my little world with the two best girls I can call my girls,” she said.

Norah Casey, President of the Jury, said: “It is always very difficult to select a winner, but the judges were blown away by Louise’s story and we are honored to present her with the much deserving Woman’s Way award and title. and Beko Mum of the Year 2021! “

Shane Kelly, Director of Sales and Marketing, Beko added, “We are thrilled to be involved in the Mom of the Year Awards and this is now our sixth year of involvement and each year we recognize how special this is. We know how important the past few years have been to everyone and today is a true celebration of mothers around the world. We would especially like to thank those who nominated a colleague, friend or family member to support those in their community who are striving to make a difference. “

Nominated for the award by Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, Louise and her youngest daughter Kiera have been ambassadors for the charity and have been fundraising for years.

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