Category Archives: coronavirus

I Don’t Have Covid [Any More]

I have now largely recovered from having the Omicron version of Covid. It wasn’t a mild experience for me. I’m 52 and have no underlying health problems but my symptoms were unpleasant and lasted a full two weeks. It was a proper flu. I don’t know why I had it so strongly when plenty of people much older than I had it more mildly. But that’s how Covid-19 works – it kills some, and others don’t even know they have it because their symptoms are so mild.

I feel that having Covid has made my migraines worse. I’ve had more than usual lately, four or five since becoming ill. That was horrible. So much pain. Also, the anxiety was always there: will it get worse? How bad will it get? When will it end? The Alpha and Delta versions of Covid were known to seem to get better after about a week to ten days and then suddenly get a lot worse, leading to those poor souls having to go into intensive care. This doesn’t generally happen with the Omicron version but I was still worried that I might prove the exception. I didn’t though.

I’m now coughing up the last bits from my chest, it’s my only remaining symptom two-and-a-half weeks after first becoming infected. I strain to clear my throat but I’m on the up. It’s slowly leaving my system and I feel relieved that I will now have natural immunity (on top of my waned and largely ineffective three vaccinations). I believe my natural immunity will be more fulsome, more multifaceted, than vaccine induced immunity and will last much longer.

Here’s to a brighter future?

I Have Covid [Day 8]

So I have had exactly eight days of Covid symptoms. It began on Day 1 Wednesday 16th February when I woke up with a sore throat. Jack, my young son, had Covid at that time – it was his Day 6 – so I know exactly where I got it from. It seems schools are an absolute caldron of infection with the children passing infections around like sweets. And those sweets always end up with the parents of course. If ever there’s a more deadly version of Covid I’m taking my kids out of school immediately. It’s where all our illnesses come from.

Yesterday I had a raging, awful migraine. It was so frightening because of how rapidly it hit. I’d say it was about half an hour from feeling okay to feeling in a lot of pain. They don’t normally come on so quickly. A few weeks ago I had a private consultation with headache specialist Dr. Shazia Afridi, after a disappointing and very unpleasant NHS appointment with my (male) GP who sneered and shouted at me for daring to ask questions about migraine treatment. During the course of our excellent 45 minute discussion Dr. Afridi told me that Covid makes migraine worse. I was so glad to have had that talk with her and to know this about Covid because I’ve had two migraines in six days, which is frequent even for me. Six days prior to testing positive for Covid I had also had a migraine so in total that’s three migraines in two weeks, which has been truly awful. It’s difficult to distinguish a real proper migraine from the normal Covid headache at first because pain is everywhere in your body, but when it starts to morph into agony just above the eyebrow you suddenly realise what it is and rush to swallow a triptan. Sadly by then it’s a bit too late and the stomach is already in gastrostasis meaning the tablet won’t get absorbed quickly because the stomach’s not digesting effectively any more. It means longer in agony and longer to battle the rising panic before pain relief slowly ebbs in.

After taking the triptan yesterday, getting to bed early and sleeping long and well, today my Covid symptoms have dramatically lessened! I can say that right now, 9:30am, I only have mild tinnitus, congestion and a cough. The congestion is all in my head stuck solid, but there is loose congestion in my chest which I cough up regularly. But that’s it for now. No other symptoms. In the old days I’d easily go to work or the gym with just congestion, but I’m still in self-isolation. I tested positive on my LFT this morning and it’s my legal duty – until tomorrow!

Yes that’s right, self-isolation laws for Covid come to an end tomorrow, my Day 9. I will still be coughing and will almost certainly still test positive. Today’s test was strong and immediate so I doubt it will suddenly be completely gone tomorrow, but legally speaking I can go out and mingle again – get my shopping, go to hospital, visit my parents… But of course I won’t be doing any of that. Just because there’s no law against it doesn’t mean to say I’m doing it. I wouldn’t dream of going near my elderly parents and I’m going to continue to stay at home, go nowhere, do nothing. It’s boring now, after eight days, but my infection was so strong that I would be very concerned about giving it to someone else if I treated tomorrow as my ‘Freedom Day.’

At least the most awful suffering part of the illness has passed and my appetite has returned. I’m convalescing. It’s curious that I never got the fatigue that a lot of people complain of. That wasn’t part of my experience – just the predictable tiredness from lack of sleep.

So that’s my dispatch for today. I may wait a few days and file my last report about my Covid when I feel my symptoms are over so that there’s a record of exactly how long it went on for and how long I continued to test positive. If there’s any relapse or anything bad happens I’ll write about it when it happens. In the meantime, I’ll go back to my ironing and watching ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race Versus The World’ – the ideal antidote to dreary Covid isolation days.

I Have Covid [Day 5]

Every day of having Omicron so far has been suffering, pain, exhaustion, anxiety and discomfort… until now, Day 5. I haven’t needed to take any pain killers today for the first time in a while and I feel brighter inside, less trembly and weak. I’m not weighed down with pain. I feel optimistic. I’m still coughing all the time and have a sore throat and a headache, but the intensity has gone – the disease doesn’t dominate me any more.

Since getting Covid I haven’t been able to sleep at night, whether through discomfort, anxiety, or some mechanism the disease has on the brain keeping the mind alert and bouncing around the ceiling as the body languishes exhausted on the bed.

The night before last, I’d gone to bed at 9:00pm, slept between 12:00am and 2:00am then stayed awake struggling and exasperated in the dark until 7:00am when I finally got to sleep in broad daylight until 10:30am. That was following several nights of only getting a few hours sleep and I really couldn’t take it any more. So yesterday I asked someone to buy me a bottle of Night Nurse and I took a swig before bed which enabled me to finally sleep (in two halves) for a combined total of eight hours, and that has made a big difference.

Today, Day 5 I have a sore ear, constant tinnitus, a headache, a sore throat, coughing and fatigue – with the sore ear being the worst discomfort. In order to get a good sleep tonight, which I think is essential for the body to heal, I will take another swig of Night Nurse and with any luck will be able to report on yet more improvement next time.

I do feel sorry for the Queen who, at age 95, has now tested positive for Covid too. I truly hope she doesn’t have it as badly as I did, but if she does at least she’s lucky enough to have on-tap top medical advice (something that’s impossible for us regular citizens). Doubtless she will not have the same level of suffering and anxiety as those of us left dealing with the illness alone.

Here’s to everyone’s GOOD HEALTH!

I Have Covid [Day 3]

Well this is horrible. Worse than I expected. For me, it’s not been a question of simply having a couple of days in bed and then slowly getting better. On Day 3 I feel I am still getting worse. I now have a stomach ache which I didn’t have yesterday or the day before, and a feeling of slightly constricted breathing. I have diarrhoea. My right ear is blocked and I have tinnitus. I have a headache, a sore throat and a cough. I’m completely congested in the nose, and blowing my nose often and sneezing too. I haven’t had worse colds. This really is the flu. I can’t sleep much. Back ache woke me at 4:30am (this is my usual back ache from prolapsed discs) then the Covid discomfort was too great for me to fall back to sleep despite swallowing paracetamol. I feel delicate, kind of jittery and too hot. My chest is heavy, my throat sore. It’s scary. I’m anxious about it all. I’ve had three jabs but they don’t seem to be making it mild for me! At least I know for sure it’s Covid Omicron because I had a positive PCR result today as well as my two positive lateral flow tests.

Today, on this wild day of Storm Eunice, I feel worried, alone and pretty unwell.

I Have Covid [Day 1]

I got a faint positive lateral flow test today. It finally happened. Intellectually, I know it’s extremely unlikely anything bad will happen to me especially since I have had three vaccination jabs, but I’m still anxious. My symptoms include the feeling that a small fire is burning in my chest, I have a runny nose, migraine, sore throat, sneezing, and a cough. The migraine and tight chest are the worst symptoms at the moment and I’ve had to take a triptan for the pain, but most people who’ve had Omicron say it wipes you out for a couple of days and then you start to feel better and are left with a lingering cough and sometimes fatigue (although fatigue isn’t currently one of my symptoms). This is the case with my son. He was pretty ill for two days and then spent the remaining days with a cough that’s slowly getting better. Ho hum. Illness here we come. I’m already up to the hilt with paracetamol, ibuprofen and my triptan. I don’t want to get any worse.

Life Post Pandemic

Well, actually I don’t think there will be a true “post pandemic” in the near future, possibly ever. There will only be a “living with the pandemic” which, back in the day, was what we used to call “normal life.” I think from now on there will only be a new normal life.

Covid-19 was created in October/November 2019 in the cruel wet markets of the Chinese town of Wuhan, and it is with us forever now. It can’t be undone. In the future it will keep mutating and some of those mutations may be deadly, some mild. There’s not a lot we can do about this, although we can continuously create different vaccines to protect ourselves like we already do with the ‘normal’ flu.

So this is how I think life with Covid will be for us humans from now on:

During the peaks, the sensible ones will squirrel themselves away and spend time at home, if necessary taking the children out of school. And during the troughs we will come out to party, take holidays, drink in pubs, go to the cinemas, enjoy cultural events, and group mixing. Without Government intervention this is probably what will happen, although I fear the majority of people under 30 will take no notice whatsoever and do everything as they usually did, pre-pandemic. It will take them the most time to adjust. Us oldies will watch out for ourselves and our loved ones and try to keep the generation which still thinks of itself as invulnerable and carefree, safe.

I don’t think it’s right that the Government of this glorious liberal democracy that is the UK, lawfully make citizens obliged to do this and that, and not do this and that, with regards Covid. As a country we will need to do what we can to protect the underfunded NHS and vulnerable people in care homes, but we shouldn’t be dictating to the general population what it must do.

Covid is a gift for China of course because it’s the perfect excuse for the dictator Xi Jinping to further control the people he doesn’t like under the guise of lockdowns and “quarantine centres.” For China, the Dark Age has already arrived – the people live in a prison they can’t see. But for us in the West where we enjoy freedom, decision-making, and self-expression, we’re going to have to act a little more responsibly from now on in this New Normal of Covid, keeping ourselves safe – with moderate Government intervention where sensible and prudent.

I Believe I Have Omicron

Yes. I do. My daughter, who breathes and coughs in my face on an hourly basis(!) tested positive for Covid with a PCR test yesterday despite doing two lateral flow tests which were both negative. She tested in the morning (LFT) – negative. She tested in the afternoon (PCR) – positive, and tested again in the evening (LFT) – negative.

Are lateral flow tests a danger to society? Should they be used at all? They don’t seem to be reliable. I suppose they’re better than nothing when there aren’t enough labs and staff for everyone to have a PCR test but they’re often slow to catch up with reality and therefore give incorrect results and a false sense of security. People’s behaviour is based on the results of these erroneous tests.

I don’t believe that I haven’t caught this highly infectious variant while sharing drinks and oxygen in close contact with someone who definitely has it. I have all the symptoms – sore throat, headache, slightly aching body, runny nose, tiredness, tight chest, sneezing – so how and why do my twice-daily lateral flow tests tell me I’m negative?

My son, who obviously lives in close contact with both of us has gone into school every day because the rules say you have to go in if you receive a negative result on a lateral flow test, which, like me, he does every time. I’m convinced if we both did a PCR test it would come up positive for us. It’s a very frustrating situation.

Omicron

It is the short o in the Greek alphabet, the 15th letter. It’s also the name of the latest new variant of the novel coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease Covid19. It’s official classification is B.1.1.529, and it emerged in South Africa last Wednesday (it’s now Saturday) so we’ve had three days of being frightened by grim and disappointing news:

* it’s apparently more transmissible
* people who’ve been double vaccinated can catch it again
* it can evade some (or most?) of the power of the current vaccination jabs

It’s not yet known whether it’s more deadly.

It’s as clear as day now that the coronavirus is not something humanity is going defeat and eliminate, but something we’re going to have to live with (and die with). I believe it won’t be long before a variant will arrive that will be more deadly and, like The Plague in the middle ages, people will die in their millions. It’s a terrifying thought. But how can it not happen? I hope I’m wrong.

It’s been almost two years since the virus first emerged in Whuhan in China in December 2019. Have we lived with this virus for two years already? It seems impossible that that much time has gone by. Two years of Covid. It’s true though, because I am 52 years old and the virus emerged during my 50th year, the year I wrote ’50: Diary of a Middle-Aged Woman.’ I just have to think of how many years I am beyond my 50th birthday to know how long the virus has been in existence.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has today announced that face masks are mandatory again on public transport and in shops. Meanwhile, I’ve ordered a pack of ten FFP3 face masks and a box of 100 disposable gloves. If I feel that this new variation is dangerous and killing more people I’m taking the kids out of school and locking us down in our own isolation bubble until a new vaccine emerges; and I’ll be extremely careful about touching things and breathing near other people if I go outside, for example to the supermarket. As you may know from reading the diary, I tend to make my own judgements about things, and although I’m guided by the Government and other entities I make my final decision based on my personal assessment and research of the available science and news.

In 2020 I took the children out of school two weeks before the Government ordered the very first lockdown and closed the schools. I saw the chaos in Italy and felt we were in real danger and that the Government was being slow to react. At the time there was the theory of ‘herd immunity.’ I talk about this at the time in the book. But the kids’ school was even worse! They were still planning all trips and activities right up until 20th March. When I told them I was removing the twins from school due to fear of the virus they didn’t support me and I was told they would inform the council (which would fine me for unauthorised absence). How small-minded and unintelligent they were back then (you can read all about this in the diary).

So I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll make up my own mind. I’m quite a good future forecaster.

As it stands now, on Saturday 27th November 2021, I’m keeping my ear to the ground and reading the news every day. I’m poised to act if there is any indication that the virus is more deadly and transmissible. Although I’m doubly vaccinated and had the booster four weeks ago, my children are unvaccinated. I need to be careful.

March 5th 2020 (50 Excerpt)

Last night I made a big decision. I’ve been closely following the coronavirus epidemic and I came to the conclusion that I need to begin social distancing as soon as possible. After much thought I have decided to keep the children home from school from Monday (which is in four days’ time) and we’ll also be maintaining a distance from the public and even friends and family. There are just over 96,000 confirmed cases worldwide including 3,300 fatalities. Italy and Delhi are closing all schools until further notice and many countries are now banning large gatherings and events. I worry that fears of damaging the economy might mean strong measures such as these won’t come into effect here until the last minute, when it’s absolutely necessary (which in my opinion will already be too late). Shutting down society will affect people’s ability to go out to work, and capitalism and money are so important in the UK. I think the money men are going to dictate how we tackle this virus.

I’m not waiting until everyone is dropping like flies to self-isolate and stay away from public places. I’m going to do it now, even though it’s early and I’m sure I’ll be blamed for stoking fears, being unnecessarily cautious, and preventing my children from continuing their education. It’s taken a lot of thought, but the more I analyse the situation worldwide, the more I believe that where Italy leads, the rest of us will soon follow. It’s spreading endemically there now, beyond the control of anyone, and because we in the UK haven’t undertaken any special measures to protect the population other than asking people to wash their hands, I’m taking matters into my own (thoroughly washed) hands. I’m living in fear. I can’t sleep at night. I feel relieved that I’ve made a decision, a decision that my gut was urging me to make a couple of weeks ago.

It’s a bit scary because I know I’ll be criticised, and I don’t think anyone will agree with me. But due to my special circumstances (already working part-time from home) and the fact that I’m probably keeping the closest eye on developments, I trust myself over others and will act on my knowledge and predictions rather than waiting to be told what to do by anyone.

The overall death rate of people who catch the virus has been raised to 3.4% and I suspect it’ll increase. The one good thing to come out of all of this is that experts think the under twenties are much less affected than older people. The older you are, the more severe it seems to be. Which is not great news for me, and certainly not for my parents. They’re likely to die if they get it, while I’m more likely to merely suffer. The twins are apparently barely likely to notice they even have it. I can’t bear the idea of struggling to breathe. I can deal with pain. I have frequent migraines and have given birth to three children. I know what agony is. But gasping for breath, heart racing, having to rest just because I want to walk to the toilet… that’s very frightening. How could I be a single mother while dealing with this? I need to be able to cook and clean and comfort the kids, and generally have the energy and ability to look after them in every way I normally do. If I go into intensive care (supposing there’s even a bed available) who will look after my children? I need to stay healthy for them.

My intention is to create a timetable for weekdays so we don’t just sit at home and play computer games or watch television. We need to include physical education, French, maths, English, reading and writing, at the very least, but I’m hoping to also include geography, biology, history, and some kind of project work. I will do my best, but I’m not a teacher and have only a very basic understanding of maths. I’ll research the books, schedules, materials and techniques of home schooling and see what I can come up with. I don’t want the twins’ education to suffer if I can help it. I’ve got four days to get everything organised. It’s going to be tough, but we’re going to get through it. Somehow.

How To Get An NHS Doctor’s Appointment Today

Well, it’s a nightmare. It’s a battle. It’s hit and miss. It’s a protracted and exhausting procedure that I’m sure puts most people off bothering.

Today I suddenly broke and realised I can’t continue living the way I am – every day in pain and agony from my hip, back, knees, and head. Something isn’t right. I can’t cope with the pain any more. And why do I have all this pain anyway? What is WRONG with my hip, my back, my knees..? And why do I get a headache every single day and migraines most day? Why do I wake up every morning with a splitting headache? I honestly can’t take it any more. it’s making me a bad mother and a miserable human being. I need to make a doctor’s appointment.

BUT… Gone are the days when you simply pick up your phone, call the surgery, and book an appointment. Gone are the days when you can go online, select a day and time from the list, and make an appointment. No, no. You can’t do anything as simply or easily any more. Why? I do not know. Perhaps it’s because they’re using the coronavirus pandemic (that isn’t a pandemic in the UK now) as a continual EXCUSE to keep patients away so doctors can have an easy working day, but if so, this is a stupid strategy long term. We are all so ill and suffering, and we’re only getting worse and worse alone at home, making our injuries or diseases more complex and harder to treat every day that slips by that we don’t have any medical attention.

But back to my story. Having decided I need to see a doctor to find out what on earth is wrong with me, I went straight to my GP surgery’s website where I discovered that unfortunately I can’t do anything today or tomorrow because it’s the weekend and, naturally, the doctor’s are closed. You can’t phone, text, email, or fill out a form – they are shut, closed, offline. This is extremely inconvenient.

Meanwhile I’m resigned to the fact that, even on a weekday, I won’t be able to see a doctor face-to-face because… Coronavirus Excuse, so Monday (in two days’ time) is the earliest I’ll be able to fill out the electronic consultation form. I will hope against hope that the vicious triaging guard dogs allow the form to be seen by a doctor, and then hope that a doctor, any old doctor (I never see the same one twice) replies and sends me an email to say that I have permission to phone to book an appointment with him or her, by phone. It definitely won’t be a face-to-face appointment straight away because Coronavirus Excuse. I will then get on my knees my knees and pray that the appointment they make for me isn’t scheduled too far ahead in the future (and not at a time when I’m already doing something important – because I get no say at all about when my appointment will be. If you don’t accept the one they offer you, you get the feeling that there won’t be another one and you’re made to feel utterly ungrateful). It could be up to two weeks away. When I finally do get that precious telephone appointment, which will obviously be without any eye contact or body language or any physical examination, I will have to ensure I convince the doctor about how much pain I’m in every day, and how I can’t go on, and desperately need help. (Why does it have to be that I’m absolutely desperate before I seek help?) After that, it’s anyone’s guess. Most likely they’ll offer pain killers but no exploration as to what’s causing the problem. If I’m extremely, incredibly lucky, I may manage to somehow convince him or her to allow me to come into the surgery and sit down opposite them and have an actual real, life face-to-face appointment. This would be like some kind of miracle, a similar feeling to winning the lottery. If they examine me, they will be shocked at how much I’m suffering and FINALLY, I might actually get some help – hopefully a referral to a specialist. But in reality, a face-to-face appointment with a doctor is extremely unlikely.

This is what it’s like these days in the NHS. No exaggeration. It’s easier to get a hairdresser’s appointment, your nails done, a virgin media technician or even a plumber to come to your house. Massive problems are being stored up for the future and patients will be dying in their thousands because doctors – the first port of call for us ill and suffering people – are trying their best to keep us away as long as possible.

I’m usually proud of the UK and England, but right now I’m losing that. The GP service is not fit for purpose. The NHS is failing its people. God help you (me?) if it’s cancer.