Symptoms started after a weekend in work, I was cold, didn’t feel like eating and just wanted to lay down, I put this down to overworking. We all have been overworking, getting ready for an unprecedented pandemic. I wasn’t worried, just up for the challenging times to come. Adam came home later that night, I was in bed, he said he ‘felt like shit’, not much to go on, I just rolled over to try and sleep. By 4am, we were both up, coughing so much my bones hurt and it was catching my breath, I was aching, still cold, Adam was hot to the touch and coughing. We both took paracetamol; I couldn’t settle and went downstairs and left Adam in bed.
Time was moving on and I knew I had to call work, calling in sick for must be one of the worst things to do. I could hardly get a word out from coughing, my colleague was lovely on the phone, gave me advice, but I still felt like a total bastard for calling in sick and letting my colleagues down, I have felt guilty ever since my phone call. We were a team and I was letting mine down.
There was a bit if a discussion on whether I should be tested for covid, apparently I was not considered frontline staff, my unit wasn’t even on the list. I still had to jump through a hoop of fire to get authorisation for a test, it’s the last thing I want to do is talk on the phone, my head hurts, my body hurts and you know what I am passed caring about a test, I feel too unwell. Plus, I’m not a politician, royalty or someone famous.
By the afternoon my test had been authorised and an appointment made for the evening, we were both dog tired and I didn’t know if I could stay awake.
In the evening Adam drove me to the covid swab test tent, its situated next to a cemetery, not the best place to put it. I was sat in the back of the car, I hurt all over, it was uncomfortable sitting in the car, I followed instructions from the nurse, put the window down and opened my mouth, I believe my brain was touched by the swab. I had tears in my eyes and gagged from the swab. We went home, home to bed, exhausted.
Over the next few days we both continued with coughing, being hot and cold, the windows in the house were open and shut constantly, fan on, fan off, the lower back pain was tortuous and then the arm and leg pain joined in, it brought tears to your eyes. I didn’t know where to put my legs, they hurt wherever they were, the tiredness was like a heavy blanket and overwhelming, headaches where you can feel your brain sloshing about and getting breathless just walking to the bathroom, the stairs were a source of torment and only attempted if you really had to go down the stairs.
It was during this time, we discussed if one of us gets really ill, we are going to separated and we will both be on our own. This frightened me more than anything, plus who ever would be left at home, would have to take charge of the cat. We were both trying to sleep as upright as possible. We now had 5 pillows each on the bed, I kept on telling Adam off, “sit up, sit up”, he said my backs hurts. “Everything hurts, just sit up”, I think I was getting on his nerves. I even woke him up a couple of times, because I wasn’t happy with his breathing, but he assured me he was OK.
We were both getting messages from our friends, family and work colleagues, all supportive, asking what they can do for us? do we need anything? giving advice to us both, all amazing messages that kept us going and gave us a distraction and something else to focus on.
The fresh food went untouched in the fridge, it was purchased at the weekend, for our week in work. Neither of us felt like eating, our diet consisted of paracetamol, digestive biscuits and toast. By day 5 we both couldn’t taste or smell, I fumbled about the house sniffing different things, oranges, coffee, blankets, mouth wash, yep it’s definitely gone. Food just seemed so pointless, the only thing being regularly fed in the house was the cat and sometimes the sneaky feline was having 2 feeds at breakfast, as we couldn’t remember if the cat had been fed or not. The brain fog clogging up our thinking capabilities, the cat took advantage of us.
During this time, every time Adam coughed, he vomited, he contacted his GP, a doctor from the covid hub called him. He did lots of breathing exercises on the phone, doctor prescribed cyclizine. We all had some respite from the vomitting and gagging noises, the cat was getting particularly annoyed. The bathroom was being sprayed and cleaned within an inch of its life every morning, the wipes were being used on frequently touched surfaces in the house, although we were not travelling far in the house, it just made you breathless and more tired.
We had food parcels delivered to the door step, homemade soup, fresh bread, fresh milk and lucozade, my friend is quite concerned how we both are, especially Adam, he gets up from his coughing fit to look out of the bedroom window, waves, gives a bit of banter, he soon gets back into bed. We are cocooned in the bedroom of germs, the cat sleeps on the bed, taking up precious room for our aching legs, but we are too weak to move her and she can be a bit tenacious at times, we leave her where she is, we both have the scars to prove that she is spiteful.
On Saturday it was decided that Adam should get tested, because of Adam’s job, he was not classed as a frontline worker. This time I drove to the cemetery, Adam didn’t feel well enough to drive, neither did I, it took all my concentration to drive, we both felt every bump in the road, rattling through our bodies, as we pull up to the testing tent next to the cemetery. Adam’s in the back of the car, I heard the familiar gag noise, I knew the nurse did a good swab. Looking in the rear-view mirror, I saw the tears, there was nothing I could do, I had nothing else to give. Just drive, get home, concentrate, just drive was all I could do, we both went straight to bed, our excursion zapping any energy we had.
Saturday night I got the phone call to say I was positive for covid-19; I needed to self-isolate for 7 days and then go back to work. I contacted my managers to let them know, one of my managers asked, ‘how do I feel about that?’ I said shit, as I convinced myself that I hadn’t got it.
Adam was on the phone to his mum, he was crying. We are both in bed crying, it was as though I had been given the death sentence. After composing myself I remember saying ‘well if I’ve got it, so have you’, just trying to make light of the situation and share the responsibility.
Adam truly felt that he had given it to me, the truth is we could have gotten it anywhere, but we were so careful, changing in work, showering when we got home, work clothes straight in the washing machine, hand washing at every opportunity, wiping down frequently touched surfaces. We were on completely opposite shifts, so we were hardly in each other’s company. Was my viral load from the person that coughed in my face, where I had to wash my face and glasses; was it from being in the food supermarket, where social distancing was impossible as so many people were crammed into the store and the store didn’t open the tills; was it from the constantly changing standard requirements of PPE in work, advice was changing every day, sometimes multiple times. Who knows, we were careful, we were meticulous, we were responsible, and we still got it.
The next couple of days continued in the same way, we has started watching Ozark on Netflix, I have to say a lot of what was going on went over my head, concentration was at an all-time low and my head hurt, my arms hurt, my legs hurt, my back hurt or either of us would cough over a piece of dialogue completely missing what was being said, but it was a distraction.