This post is not book related but is a recount of my possible covid-19 symptoms …
Okay, so I’m not writing this for sympathy or to upset anyone but I know some people have found it useful to have an understanding of how possible Covid-19 symptoms can present. I say possible because when I was sick the UK were not even testing NHS/health care staff.
On the 9th March 2020 I went to London from my home in Midlands in the UK. I attended a Self-Publishing conference. There was no 2 meters distance specified at this time though candidates ‘elbow bumped’ instead of shaking hands or hugging. Travelling to London and back home included train journeys and walking through London’s streets. Now in hindsight, (which is always a wonderful thing) I should not have visited the Sealife centre just to kill time whilst I was there, but hey ho… I still don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to mingle in a confined space with lots of people, not when I walked across London instead of risking the underground…
For the next week I was fine. On the 14th March I felt a little tired and achy but just brushed it off as being tired and attended my mum’s 80th birthday party where there were about sixteen people. I tried to stay away from my family as I began to feel worse as the day wore on. The next day I began to feel achy and shivery. By the evening I was having hot and cold spells and felt very unwell. I cannot tell you my temperature as I couldn’t find our thermometer which we haven’t used since my children were very small (They are fourteen now). I took some Ibuprofen as we had only had one dose of paracetamol in the house and I felt it best to take that if I was worse the next day.
I am an asthmatic and had increased my dose of steroid inhaler a couple of weeks earlier as it wasn’t as well controlled as it could be. The next day (16th March) I felt quite tight on my chest. Self-isolation had just started so I called into work (I am a resuscitation trainer for the NHS and a nurse by background and was very aware I needed to saty away from my colleagues) and informed them of my symptoms.
Over the next few days my breathing became more and more difficult. On Wednesday 18th March my breathing difficulties and sore chest had escalated to the point I couldn’t talk proplerly. My peak flow (the force I can expire air, which I check regularly as an asthmatic) had reduced from my normal of 480 to about 300. I realised I couldn’t walk up or down stairs without feeling exhausted and needing to sit down and recover. I kept taking my steroid inhalers and took my reliever inhalers regularly throughout the next 24 hours. By Thursday 19th March my peak flow had gone down to 220 (which is very poor) and now I had to sit down for a significant length of time after going up or down the stairs. My whole body felt heavy and exhausted.
I knew that I should call for medical assistance or go to the Emergency Dept but the irrational part of me was terrified of going to the hospital. My rationale: If this wasn’t Covid, picking up the virus there would finish me off… I know that the NHS are worrying especially with parents who have sick children that they are not seeking help early enough for problems that might not be Covid related, but I totally get that reluctance. I was very silly not to seek help. After all I’m a nurse, an experienced one, and would so tell anyone else to go and get help, but I didn’t (In my defense I was probably hypoxic at that point and not thinking clearly!)
I couldn’t cough because it was too tiring. I could no longer talk in sentences and found any conversation exhausting. I found this out after a close friend from work tried a video chat with me. This was lovely, another work colleague and even my boss said ‘hi’, but I developed a headache during the chat and couldn’t concentrate very well. My peak flow after that chat was 150. (This is considered life-threatening asthma) I tried taking 10 puffs via a spacer from my reliever inhaler and it did help for a very short period of time, maybe 30 mins. I rang my doctor and requested some steroids, still desperate to avoid hospital.
I was prescribed a five day course of oral steroids. I took these and by day 8 of my symptoms started to see an improvement in my breathing.
On day 7 I lost my sense of smell completely and could only taste the difference between bitter, salty and sweetness of foods.
On day 10 my peak flow went back up to 300. I could speak again but was still exhausted by climbing stairs or doing anything active.
By day 14 my peak flow went back up to 380 and I didn’t need my reliever to help me breathe as much. By this, I mean in my spacer. I still needed it anything up to 10 puffs in a day.
By day 18 my peak flow reached 400 and my reliever was down to about 6 times a day. My taste and smell began to return.
Day 23 after my symptoms started I went back to work. I was very scared as I still don’t know whether I had Covid-19 or a chest infection of another kind. My rationale for suspecting I had it is 1. My asthma, even with a chest infection, has never been so bad or my peak flow lower than 300. 2. The loss of taste and smell; which my husband and two teenagers also lost about a week after me after suffering a slight sore throat, a runny nose and mouth ulcers.
I didn’ realise how much I was still coughing or struggling with my chest until I had to teach. My lovely colleagues did the lectures, I only did the practical resus training. My boss rang me the next day and told me to stay at home until I had discussed my return to work with our Occupational Health dept’. During that discussion, we agreed I should remain away from the hospital for the rest of that week and take my week’s Annual Leave the following week as planned…which I am currently doing.
I am sitting in my garden in the sun and writing this post. I am very grateful to be on the mend and I hope you are never in a position to need to write about your own symptoms. Like I say, I am writing this for anyone who is interested, not to garner sympathy or to upset anyone.
Please observe the social distancing advice, it is there to keep you safe. So many people have died from this horrid virus and I hope that each and every one of the staff at Derby Hospitals where I work stays safe.