Heading into week five, we are both hurting, the aches are overwhelming on top of breathlessness. We both shower, Adam showers on his own, only a couple of dizzy spells, but he has done it, I stayed in the bathroom encase he falls out of the shower, although I am not sure what help I am going to be, if he does fall. We need to change the bed, stripping the bed is easier with the both of us doing it, we still need to sit down and rest and catch our breaths. Putting on the new sheet and duvet cover is a different story, its tiresome, zaps all your energy and power, we are both feeling weak and feeble and how does putting on a new duvet cover make you so breathless? we just do not get it, I feel like I’ve been for a run. We can’t do anything else, I feel empty of all energy, sleep is the only answer.
I catch up with my shielding friend during the week, her daughter has been baking quite a lot and she has been test tasting all the goodies. We discuss the fatigue I’ve been getting, it’s not just being tired, it’s like a heavy feeling pushing you down, it hits me fast, its makes me weak and unable to power my arms and legs, everything you do is an almighty effort and takes extra time just to complete a simple task, like having a shower or getting dressed, I feel powerless. I see myself as the Ready Brek kid with the reddish orange glow, only my invisible glow is the fatigue inhabiting and constraining me, this is so debilitating. I never really understood when someone said they were fatigued, but I understand now, its stripping me of my personality, its muddling with my mind, its hitting me with a big stick, its knocking me down all the time. Adam described me as being lethargic, I am, I take up my spot on the sofa with the fluffy blanket, I’m still cold, I feel like I am never going to get warm again.
Someone has suggested I take a tonic, its called Metatone tonic, its a miracle cure for fatigue, I will try anything not to feel like this. I can’t taste it, I’m told this is a good thing, what was it your mum would tell you? “if it tastes bad, it’s good for you”. One of my managers tells me this is what pensioners take, I am officially a pensioner, I take the tonic to prove it.
We need to do some food shopping, we can’t get a delivery or a click and collect, they are fully booked, this is so frustrating as neither of us feel up to shopping, but we have to eat. We go to the grocery shop, we haven’t made a list, going in the store is now an alien feeling, wipe the trolley, anti bac the hands, stay 2 meters away from anyone else. The social distancing sounds easy, everyone and anyone can do this, there is even signs in the store to remind you, but no, some people are getting close, too close for comfort, Adam wants to blurt out he had covid, just to make a clear route through the store. I tell him he can’t do that, I just behave like everyone is a spider, but without the squealing, its seems to be working for me.
I stay at the top of an isle and Adam goes down the isle hunting and gathering what we need, I’m resting on the trolley, which unofficially has become my Zimmer frame. I watch a lady, a few years older than me, she has the surgical mask on her face and the gloves to match. She is stooping down choosing her item, I can see through her gloved hands that her hands under the gloves are wet. She puts the item back and touches the front of her mask to pull the mask down under her chin and touches something else, puts the item back and picks up something else, pops it in her trolley, touches the front of her mask again to reposition it on her face. I’ve seen enough, I dont want to be in here, I don’t see the point of people wearing a mask if they are going to continually touch the front if it, why do you want or feel the need to touch the area of the mask that is supposed to be stopping the nasties getting into your lungs. You will be touching the nasties, those nasties are on your gloves fingers and then you are touching other things, so those nasties are going to be on everything you touch. I need to get out of here, spider!
We get back to the car, anti bac our hands, we were concentrating so much on our social distancing, watching what other people are doing, being mindful of what we are going through, we forget lots of things we wanted, neither of us want to go back in there, it wasn’t a nice experience, but when is grocery shopping a nice experience.
One evening we come across a TV documentary with Ross Kemp presenting, ‘On the NHS Frontline’, it’s based in a Milton Keynes hospital, it is focused on the covid wards within the hospital, we didn’t see the whole programme, we catch the last 20 minutes or so of the programme. We are both sitting there crying, it’s a stark reminder of what is going on in hospitals up and down the county, it’s an honest representation. There is a retired military police officer aged 63 called Paul Breeze featured in the programme, unfortunately he succumbed to the virus, Ross Kemp plays tribute to him at the end of the programme, Paul Breeze asked to be filmed for the documentary, to show the severe impact of covid-19. From what we saw of the programme, it was a distressing watch, I haven’t been able to watch the whole documentary yet. I am writing this several weeks later and I have just watched a clip of the programme, I’m not ready yet to watch it all.
My covid buddy and I make contact, we update each other on each other’s current condition, neither of us are feeling any better, my covid buddy is on more antibiotics, this is never ending cycle of symptoms. We both feel like someone is spinning a wheel of random symptoms every morning for us, wherever the pointer lands on is what your body gets for the day. We are both worried about work, I’ve never had so much time off work, its becoming more than concerning for the both of us. We discuss our animals and how that our pets are helping us get through the days, from my covid buddies point of view with her dog, she receives more affection, where as I have the cat, where no affection is given to me, only demands, bites and scratches, with a face of innocence.
Adam needs to attend the hospital for a follow up chest xray, he goes on his own, I don’t feel up to the journey, I just don’t feel quite right and I can’t explain why I don’t feel quite right, I just know that I can’t go anywhere, no power or energy. The radiologist shows Adam his xray, pointed out the improvement to his lungs, but there is still a bit of an issue with the lower right side of his lung.
We’ve slowly started watching the news again, but only in the morning, we’ve been watching Good Morning Britain, its good to watch Piers Morgan make the MP’s and ‘expert’ guests squirm with his questions and I have another reason to watch. One of the presenters Kate Garraway, her husband has been in hospital because of the novel virus covid-19, I’ve been following his progress, he is in a critical condition, I can’t even imagine what her and her family are going through, I was able to talk to Adam, but she can’t talk to her husband, I had two weeks of turmoil, her’s is ongoing. This has really touched me and hit home, I try to explain to Adam what it was like being in my own and he in hospital, I can’t without crying, I felt very isolated and very lonely.
There is a pensioner in the news, he is moving more than me, Captain Tom Moore aged 99, he is walking a hundred laps of his garden before his one hundredth birthday, he has raised a considerable sum for NHS Charities Together, he moves a lot quicker than me. Another pensioner 94 year old Ken who is living in a care home, cuddles a picture of his wife every night, one of the staff members Kia Tobin, didn’t think this was safe, encase the glass of the photo frame breaks, so she purchased a cushion for Ken with his wife’s image on the cushion, that’s it I’m gone, tears are brimming, Ken is cuddling his cushion and I put my toast in the food recycling bin.
One morning Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid read out the names of 105 frontline staff that have died fighting coronavirus, Adam and I watched this in silence, we have been so fortunate, this moment puts our situation in to perspective, we have been so lucky, it could of been all so different. All those families ripped apart by a virus, pictures of those staff appear on the screen, these aren’t just names or daily total death figures, these are actual people, you can see their faces, these are people with lives, family, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, children, grand children and they have gone, these people went to work to care and treat other people and they have paid the ultimate price.
Adam has taken over the cooking, I am not able to physically stand in the kitchen and help him, its probably safer this way anyway. I still do not feel hungry, my appetite is at an all time low, nothing is even tempting me, I love food, but not at the moment. If Adam wasn’t here on kitchen duty, I wouldn’t even bother trying to make anything to eat, I probably wouldn’t even be eating.
I have struggled a few days this week, some of these days I have managed to wake up, have a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast and then go back to bed, every thing is just so exhausting and I have nothing left to give the day. Other days I make it through to lunchtime and then my day is over and I am back in bed, it’s really frustrating, I want to be able to do more, other than lay down, I am so fed up feeling like this. Is this still the virus? Or is this something else causing this exhaustion?
Adam gets twitchy if he isn’t doing anything, he needs to do something, I just don’t have anything to give, absolutely no energy at all, even just sitting seems exhausting, trying to concentrate on the TV is like sitting an exam. Back at the beginning of March I borrowed a sewing machine from a family friend, I was going to make masks, I ordered all the materials and the sewing machine has just been sitting in the box, doing nothing. One day Adam decides he is going to make head bands, we had noticed that some of the medical staff were experiencing sores on their ears from wearing masks. The elastic loops of the masks go over the ears, with many hours of wearing the masks, medical staff were getting pressure sores, behind their ears. Adam finds a pattern for head bands and starts cutting. He does some test sewing just to make sure he can sew, after a shaky start he is up and running, churning out headbands and I’m off to bed, the noise of the sewing machine is too much for my brain and my brain retaliates in pain.
The pain I am feeling in my arms is constant, it feels like I am having my blood pressure taken on both arms at the same time, all the time, it’s really unpleasant, it hurts, paracetamol isn’t touching it, I just end up holding myself, to try and brace the pain. I think the warm weather is making my cough more as well, just talking is making me cough, I’m getting breathless just walking up the stairs, this is really frustrating.
For the last few weeks people in the UK have taken to their doorsteps on a Thursday evening, to clap for the frontline workers. Adam and I are normally in bed and sleeping at this point in the evening, as we are so exhausted. The only noise I remember hearing in my street was a dog barking and a single firework going bang, but I haven’t been out there. On this Thursday we decide to stay up and go out the front of the house to see if we can hear anything. We can, we can hear people clapping, we can hear people banging pots and pans, we can here the cheering, it makes us both a bit emotional, then a single firework explodes and that dog barks.
Adam and I have been nominated for a competition to win a big box of fruit and vegetables, from a local business, rather surprisingly we win. It’s a massive box, absolutely full of fresh produce, we are so so grateful for this and it means we don’t have to go grocery shopping for a while.
I think my sense of smell is starting to come back, Adam took me out in the car, just to get out of the house for a bit, as we are driving I can smell weed, its really subtle, but I can smell it, it’s coming in through the open car window, I let Adam know, he says that it really stinks. I haven’t been able to smell much for several weeks and my first smell in the outside world is weed. I still don’t trust my nose and get Adam to sniff the milk every morning, before I put it on my cereal.
At the end of week six Adam wants to visit the allotment garden, to assess what needs to be done, I don’t feel up to it, but I need to start moving and getting out, being inside all the time, isn’t healthy for me. We adhere to the same strict social distancing measures, whilst we are in the garden, Adams parents stay in the house and shout things out to us, out of the windows. The pea seedlings are stretched up the pea frame, these plants are going to be huge, the cabbages, brussel sprouts and cauliflowers plants have filled out and you can clearly see that the area is over planted, the garlic and onions are swelling. I look in the greenhouse, I am shocked, its just a mass of green everywhere, every seed I sowed back on 22nd March has germinated. We have about 60 cucumber seedlings, about the same amount in tomatoes, 20 courgette plants, the carrots, potatoes and parsnips green tops are looking up through the soil. I couldn’t get cucumbers to germinate last year, we have enough plants to supply a superstore. The tomato plants I put in bigger pots the last time I was here are nearly 2 foot tall. Adam’s mum did a good job watering and keeping all these plants alive.
I sit down on the small step, there is lots to do, Adam devises a plan of action, Adam says in order to make room in the greenhouse we need to start planting things out, yes I agree, but where to start. Adam wants to start by making the runner bean frame and cucumber frame, I’m alright with this, its not heavy lifting and I think I can manage holding on to bamboo sticks. We gather the bamboo sticks together, we haven’t got a clue what we are doing, our brains are not clicking into place, its just a simple A frame, but we look like we are trying to solve a complex mathematical equation. The sweat is dripping off us both, we are getting breathless, but all we are doing is tying bamboo sticks together, this is ridiculous, we both have to sit down and rest. This is a simple job, it should take mere minutes to do, but our bodies are fighting against us, we rest and take stock of what we can actually do next without getting breathless.
I don’t know if it was being out in the fresh air, or being in the garden, but I am spurred on to tackle the cucumbers, they have really out grown there pots and are crowed in together. Adam helps by filling the bigger pots with compost, I’m sitting down repotting the cucumbers, it feels like there are thousands of them, we keep on having to stop and rest, we threw some of the cucumber plants on the compost heap, I hate doing this, but they were weak looking, a bit like me, I need to be composted. Adams putting the cucumbers back in the greenhouse, its something we can deal with later, its too early for them to go out. Adam says “what is this”, pointing to a tray of lush various shade of green leaves, “that’s the lettuces”, I had forgotten I put seeds in, it was like looking at a bouquet of green leaves in little pots, they need to be separated, I don’t know if I have much left in me, we’ve got to do something or they will all die. Last year Adam who is a carpenter by trade, made a small outside covering for one of the beds, he says lets use that. So we end up planting out lots of lettuces, they will be protected by the covering, encase of any frosts. That’s it I’m done, I cant do anymore, even walking is an effort, we have achieved quite a lot in an hour and a half, we wave to Adams mum and dad, Adam gives instructions for watering and feeding, we head home, exhausted and tired, but feel we have actually achieve something in a day.
I’ve been sent an article in the BMJ by a friend, it’s by Professor Paul Garner, he is a professor of infectious diseases at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, it’s a blog about his experience with covid-19, he talks about a ‘rollercoaster of Ill health’ over the last 7 weeks. I am reading the article, it sounds like me, exactly like me, the same symptoms, similar experiences. In the article a Facebook group called Covid-19 Support Group (have it/had it) is mentioned, I look it up. I am reading personal stories from all around the world, all similar stories, some people are experiencing more symptoms than me, but there are other people out there, its just not me and my covid buddy, there are thousands of us out there. I let my covid buddy know, this is important for both of us.
By Sunday we want to make plans for the following week, we use our weekly white board planner, we decide to tackle the front garden, it’s a very small front garden, normally takes about an hour or so to tidy up, cut the grass and trim the hedge. On the white board we put something in the box everyday, we dont want to over do it, slow and steady. Monday, trim the hedge; Tuesday, cut the grass; Wednesday, weed the gravel patch; Adam thinks we are done, but the bench outside is looking tired and has been painted in the past with a reddish brown paint, I dont like it, I want to change it. It’s a bit more then a bench it has trellis up the side and a little roof on top. Thursday, wash the bench; Friday, paint the bench. We have a plan to do something, if it takes longer than a week to do, it doesn’t matter, it’s better then spending our time watching the Originals on Netflix. Hopefully this will give me some motivation, if it’s on the planner, we have to do it.