I want to talk about how I just spent the best part of this week in bed feeling very very poorly, because on one hand I'd heard so many terrible stories, and on the other so much speculation on mild symptoms of covid-19. I can confirm there is an in between.
My symptoms started last week - a week ago last Sunday, when a sudden feeling of utter exhaustion came over me in the evening and I woke up on the Monday with a fever and very painful lungs. This subsided a bit by the Tuesday and I just felt tired for a couple more days and things seemed to improve. I thought the same as most, was that corona? Most of the cases apparently are mild and with such varying symptoms was I just confirming a bias?
I seemed ok at the weekend until again Sunday night I just started to feel exhausted again, this time things were worse. I woke up with painful lungs, was alternating quite rapidly between very hot and very cold, and by Tuesday could barely stay on my feet, I went to bed at 7pm that day and slept for 16 straight hours. When I woke I felt pretty ok again, not well, but I could move. I had been awake for a couple of hours when I suddenly felt even worse intense stabbing pains in my chest and had to go lie down. I was freezing, I had the heat on in my room and it must've been near 30 degrees and I was shivering. I considered the whole time whether this was the point at which I should be calling for help (I live by myself). I woke up a few hours later ate something, checked in with people and again went straight back to sleep. It was all I could manage.
Yesterday I woke up and seemingly felt better. Friends had wisely advised to call 111 (NHS helpline), even if I didn't need immediate help it would be good to get any information. I was on hold for nearly an hour waiting to talk to someone, but, I was glad I did. I had a consultation with a nurse who called the paramedics after I had been through my symptoms.
Within an hour I was having another consultation with the paramedics. Everyone who I spoke to thought it best to assume I was on day ten of the timeline and the worst was over. Should symptoms worsen again I now had a case with emergency services and they know my situation.
Now, without doubt, I am extremely glad I didn't take up a hospital bed, but I will tell you this, this week was bad, it wasn't a mild anything. It wasn't like the flu, it wasn't like anything I had experienced before. Sure I'm not in the youngest bracket here, but I'm not in the oldest and I'm in good health, I have no afflictions associated with either my respiratory or immune systems.
Please, if you feel bad, even for just a couple of days, rest. Just stop everything and rest. I realise how difficult this must be for some, but I didn't rest, I felt better, had gone about things normally and the second time it was bad. (My personal reason was I only have work until the end of next week with everything that is going on and as it stands I've lost three days, which is a fortune considering I don't know how long this deadlock will last.)
Also don't be afraid to call in the professionals. I specifically didn't want to be a burden on a health service which didn't have resources even before any of this happened, but I am extremely glad I did. (NB worth a side note that I couldn't call my doctor, my surgery is not accepting corona related calls).
Anyway, I'm writing this to let you know my symptoms, they are different for everyone, but if it might help one person...
- Fever and chills. Lots of very hot and then very cold, probably because I was very hot.
- Painful lungs and stabbing chest pains, right down in the murky depths of my chest and rising further up as time went on.
- Difficulty breathing
- Dry sinuses
- I did not get a cough. I still don't have one really, I cough a couple of times a day but to me that seems like a normal rate. It hurts too much to cough anyway, it hurts to laugh.
This is the cumulative advice I was given by both medical professionals I spoke to:
- Breathing exercises, try to stretch your chest and take a few slow deep breaths every hour
- Prop yourself up when you rest/sleep (in a sitting position)
- If you start coughing up any phlegm that isn't clear or beige call us back
- Drink lots of fluids, preferably warm
- Make sure you eat and eat as healthily as you can (NB I had no loss of appetite but was slightly nauseous after eating sometimes)
- Keep yourself and your surroundings clean/be mindful about your hygiene levels
- Self isolate for minimum 7 days after symptoms have subsided
Honestly I think this is probably common advise for respiratory ailments, but also I don't believe any will hurt.
I know the situation is difficult and scary and if we're not seeing it either, it makes it harder to understand some of the rules we now have to abide by. But I would not wish this on anyone and I am up and walking around today, it could have been much much worse! I know there'll be plenty more people having this experience over the next couple of months and really all I hope for now is a vaccine for the vulnerable because gosh do we need one (yes I am also aware it's estimated 6-12 months away).
Also (personal plea) check in with those people who are by themselves, I had an incredible amount of support, I wouldn't have called 111 if it wasn't for my friends and wow am I glad I did.
Oh and if you're a company who thinks this is a brief and not a crisis, can you fuck off? Your emails are appalling. Every. Single. One.