By Corinne Yeadon, Being Better
It is coming up to four weeks since the dreaded text, “Dear Corinne Yeadon Your Coronavirus test result is positive… Try not to worry.”
The result received within 24 hours of taking the test was no surprise. The writing was on the wall when I woke up and Ollie our Greek rescue dog emitted one of his noxious gaseous emissions and I was oblivious to the stench. Symptoms of zero taste or smell added to a nattering cough, sore throat, cold, headache, exhaustion and wheezing, so it felt pretty ominous. The worry or blind panic, more accurately, felt at the outset of symptoms were not rooted in my health but that of my daughter who is a cancer survivor and has impaired lung function. We had been painstaking in shielding her for over four months and super cautious since then. I am now supremely grateful for listening to my inner voice and avoiding meeting people and not providing face to face therapy sessions. No-one wants to be a “superspreader.” The thought of unknowingly infecting others is in my opinion more worrisome than the prospect of contracting the virus. Nobody elects to host this hideous virus or consciously expose others to infection.
There followed a tsunami of symptoms for 12 days, making the most daily basic functions a challenge and some less severe symptoms that were just plain strange. I am relieved to say that the four-foot sparrow is no longer gently wafting its wings in the tree outside my window, which at the time I knew was probably a result of my raised temperature but that knowledge didn’t make it any less visible. My normally crazy curly hair went straight as a die and my skin was reduced to a dry, papery texture, not helped by constant handwashing and sanitising. I was thrown by the degree of confusion and inability to muster the concentration and cognition required for basic tasks. Physical low points seemed to be mirrored by low mood and feelings of helplessness.
In spite of attempting to stay separate from my husband and daughter, my husband also contracted COVID. He is almost 10 years into recovery from alcohol addiction and likened COVID symptoms to the horrors of alcohol withdrawal.
The mindset we employed was to just get through and do our utmost to keep my daughter safe by being distanced, keeping windows open, constantly washing hands, wearing masks, disinfecting touch points and having separate utensils and towels. She relies on us for her care and daily needs and without the kindness of friends providing provisions and support I do not know how we would have coped. There followed relays of napping, regular paracetamol, fluids and vitamins.
If the illness wasn’t bad enough the constant bombardment of calls and texts from test and trace were a nightmare. If being capable of talking was a possibility I would have spoken to loved ones. Callers ranged from the robotic and disinterested to those who expressed care and concern. I constantly reminded myself that they are doing a job in a deeply flawed system, but it wasn’t easy.
Thankfully we turned a corner and miraculously my daughter swerved Covid. We are a thousand times improved. The recovery process is not as speedy as the onset of symptoms. I turn into Bagpuss by early evening. The slightest physical exertion is akin to sprinting up the three peaks and providing an ordinary meal requires the concentration and effort of preparing a 12-course tasting menu. Fortunately, day by day there is an improvement. During the pandemic, it was an eye-opener to how much I had taken for granted – freedom, friends and company. Having no taste or smell seems like a posh problem, however, I fantasise about lemon meringue pie, the buttery crumbly pastry combined with the sharp lemon and crisp sugary fluffy meringue clouds. Hopefully, in time it will return.
While it was a horrific experience and we are still finding our feet, we consider ourselves fortunate to be talking about recovering. We are also massively appreciative of the kind messages of support. This experience has jolted us into recognising what is important and has taken our feelings of gratitude to a whole other level.