Sometimes I feel I’m stuck inside a giant human sand timer waiting to go through the bottleneck and hopefully come out the other side.
Back in March, the wake-up call quote was when Prime Minister Johnson said many of us will “lose loved ones before their time”. I’ve been lucky. I’m still in the top section of the sand timer. And nearly 100 days in, I don’t know anyone personally who has died from Covid-19. I also only know three people for certain who have had it, all dealing with after-effects of recovery.
One is a friend of a friend, from ‘stoic Irish stock’, who I’d heard was knocked out by coronavirus quite early on. Colette is a mother of three grown-up kids, works as a college counsellor and lives in south Birmingham.
I felt this '100 Days' diary needed to record someone who had actually experienced Covid-19 and Colette kindly agreed to write about her time with the 'Rona…
What a surreal experience this lockdown has been. Thinking back to those early days, and what seems like a lifetime ago that my eldest son returned home from a ‘final’ visit with his girlfriend to tell me that she had been unwell over the weekend. Nothing serious, just a high temperature and sickness.
What a lovely Mother’s Day gift!
The ‘virus’ was just about to hit our household, but I did not feel particularly worried as I am a 50+ female who is fit and healthy (although I do have mild asthma).
By the following weekend I began to feel a ‘bit weird’. Initially I was just out of sorts – headache, slight nausea but I couldn’t face my Friday night curry and G&T, which is unheard of.
Saturday morning usually means an early rise to do the weekly shop before the rush. I had to drag myself out of bed but only made it to the sofa as the vertigo and nausea were overwhelming. No high temperature or cough, so no virus, right?
The high temperature hit over Saturday night. Even paracetamol didn’t seem to work and the fever appeared out of control. This lasted for about five days. The nausea and fatigue remained constant and I found this really distressing.
After the temperature was under control, I then developed a D and V bug for two days – I’ll spare you the detail but it was nasty!
Then an itchy rash appeared, it looked very much like chickenpox and my torso was covered.
This was closely followed by some sniffles and a cough that worsened day by day.
I pretty much stayed in bed for a week and the family would pop their head round the door. We all had to isolate at home. My son was able to go out and get supplies after seven days as he was the first to have symptoms.
This was the day to worry, so the media told me, and there were some scary moments, prompting my husband to call the doctor and the Covid-19 helpline. “Stay at home and only go to the hospital if you can’t breathe,” was the advice.
This was a difficult time and seemed to go on forever.
When my chest hurt and my breathing worsened, I didn’t know if it was the time to call an ambulance or I was having a panic attack. It was a bewildering time and I didn’t want to overreact, but I also didn’t want to miss something or wait until it was too late.
The toughest part of this whole thing was not being able to get any reassurance from a medical professional.
It wasn’t until day 14 that I noticed my sense of smell and taste had disappeared – probably because this was the first time I had eaten for a week.
I was ill for over 20 days, but Covid-19 isn’t a ‘usual’ illness. I’d wake up one morning thinking I was getting better. I would try and do something ‘normal’, like potter in the garden but would need to lie down part way through any physical exertion.
I was the only member of my family of five to develop these symptoms – apart of my eldest son, or ‘super spreader’ as we fondly refer to him. His symptoms were mild, mainly consisting of loss of smell and taste.
Three months later
I am still recovering three months after first contracting the virus.
I feel tired, even after a good night sleep, I am still breathless and eagerly await the full return of smell and taste, which still haven’t properly recovered.
I am also overly anxious, particularly about leaving the house. The first time I went into the supermarket alone – about six weeks after first developing symptoms – I panicked and forgot what I needed to buy. I purchased a bottle of shampoo for £15.95 because I had picked it up by mistake!
Covid-19 is the Mother’s Day gift that keeps on
What’s your view of the wider situation now?
I don’t want to become ill again, but I have been conscious of spreading something to others. I am careful about handwashing and using sanitiser, but I was like that before if I am honest!
I try not to judge what others are doing – most people are just absentminded about ‘new rules’, I think. We all have to be more patient and take things more slowly.
I am frustrated when I see packed beaches, etc, but I understand that people just want some normality in their lives. I’m not sure what we can do to change this aspect. I think the Dominic Cummings situation was a turning point for many people and was handled badly by the government.
Just make sure you follow precautions. Don’t take risks and be mindful that others may not have the same immunity as you. Respect each other.
Thanks again to Colette for writing for the 'pandiary'. Hope the recovery continues and life gets back to normal asap.
I had a nice day, which started early, doing a pickup of six rabbits from Fat Fluffs who needed to be picked up and transported to the vets for 9am. I am thankful that Fat Fluffs exists – rabbits are a neglected pet and they are a dedicated rabbit rescue, specialising in bunnycare. Plus they do boarding, adoption, bonding and also look after a permanent floof of older, health-challenged rabbits who can't be adopted out.
Finally I'm thankful that my garden roses bring joy to others. A lady spent a good five minutes walking up and down our front garden wall, smelling every rose, twice, and the look on her face was uplifted and uplifting. What's the Covid isolation time on rose petals? 😉
I'll leave you with a collage I did for Birmingham Collage Collective's callout for lockdown/coronavirus responses last month. The endless hands reaching up towards what looks like infected hands seemed a good illustration for today's guest post. Remember when the government message was just to 'Wash your hands'?
Commission/hire me: fiona [at] fionacullinan.com