I’ve thought long and hard about sharing this post. It’s my own experience and I know how lucky I’ve been to recover fully after two weeks – however I am conscious that it’s a really sensitive topic.
Unlike other – more ‘with it’ – patients, I didn’t manage to keep a diary of what symptoms came on which days though I have a fair estimate.
On the Monday I noticed I was totally drained and didn’t have an appetite. I was working from home, so this was helpful but I did find myself in bed pretty early feeling more sleepy than normal.
By Tuesday, when my alarm went off I felt like I’d been in a boxing match. Sitting at my desk I realised just how bright it was and struggled with my laptop. My skin hurt all over in a very neuralgia-type way and by lunchtime I had to have a lie down. Wednesday was much the same, except I only left my bed to participate in work calls.
By this point I had a headache, my skin hurt, I was getting terrible pains in my legs and I felt constantly nauseas. Due to napping through the day and being in bed by five my sleeping pattern was a riot.
Though the Government advice was still only highlighting very specific symptoms that I didn’t have, high temperature and a new cough. I had neither of these but knew that I was very sick.
When Thursday came around I was struggling to stay awake long enough to have a conversation, yet I continued to push through – stupidly. On a work call with my boss we both shared our symptoms and realised that as we’d been working together the previous week there was a high chance of us having the same thing; I was told to sign off and come back online when I felt better.
I hate being off sick, I just don’t enjoy the downtime (furlough is killing me already). As soon as I closed the laptop, I was asleep, and slept until late. My nurse, Simon, came into his own – nipping to Lidl for a very specific carton of juice that didn’t turn my stomach at the thought of it.
Over the weekend my cough started along with difficulty breathing. The cough wasn’t the worst I’ve ever had, but each wave made my head thump – having taken co-codamol religiously, I couldn’t keep on top of the pain. This was a bit of a concern. I still couldn’t use my phone due to the brightness and the noisy dogs next door made me wince.
My breathing was okay when lying in bed, but deep breaths made my lungs hurt and the whole of my windpipe burned. Even just going from bed to the bathroom made me sound like I’d been for a run, I was lightheaded and trying to manage my breathing made me panic.
On Sunday I phoned NHS 111, I had put it off as I can only imagine the number of calls they must be dealing with – but my mum was calling every couple of hours and the more worried that she and Simon became made we worry.
As expected I was on hold for about half an hour, but it wasn’t an issue and I knew I’d be answered eventually – I had a time for another wee nap – after going through the standard questions I was told I’d get a call back from a doctor at my local Coronavirus Centre.
When I finally received a call, the doctor told me that there wasn’t the capacity to test me for the virus, but that I had it. From my descriptions he was able to (accurately) predict when I’d begin to feel better. This was Sunday and day 7 for me, he estimated that by day 10 I’d be feeling much more like myself.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Monday, a full week since I came down with the virus. Still off work and having not eaten in a week Simon was anxious to get me something that wouldn’t make me boke. He knew shit was real when he left a chocolate egg in my bed and it was still there two days later.
Full disclosure – I lost a stone, that was the only up-side though I wouldn’t recommend this diet.
Frozen mango, I decided, would do. So poor Simon hunted high and low and managed to get me some to stash in the freezer. It’s the healthiest I’ve eaten in years.
On Wednesday I made it downstairs, it was about 6am as my sleeping pattern was still super messed up. I managed to pour a drink and sit in the armchair for half an hour, I got back upstairs and slept the rest of the morning. When I woke, I found that my leg pains had subsided and the discomfort on my skin was gone.
Thursday saw a miraculous recovery; I was strong enough to get downstairs myself and sat for a little while and when I got back to bed I stayed awake the rest of the day. I couldn’t eat until Friday and even then, just tiny bites, but it was incredible how much better I felt almost overnight!
Having felt as terrible as I did, and knowing that there wasn’t anything additional I could have done to prevent it does make me worry for the professionals on the frontline. One of my best friends is a nurse in the Beatson, so not dealing directly with Covid patients – but she’s at risk.
It’s important to remember while we’re celebrating the great work done by the NHS, there are others doing really important work that aren’t working in face to face roles. There are keyworkers ensuring that those in need get the benefits they need, they’re selling you disinfectant in your local discount store and they’re teaching the children of keyworkers.
This isn’t the platform to raise awareness as others do it much better, but I found it vital to make note of it.