Tag Archives: coronavirus

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!

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.

What Does A Slipped Disc (Herniated Disc, Prolapsed Disc) in Your Back Feel Like?

The pain of a slipped disc in your lower back is a pinching, sharp, burning kind of pain. I describe it as “high-pitched.” It’s not an ache, or a pulsing a pain, it’s more of an intermittent sharp pinch. You can tell it’s nerve irritation and not anything to do with bones or muscles. For me, the pain of a slipped disc can’t be relieved by changing position. It makes no difference if I’m lying down or standing up, the pain is just as bad, resting doesn’t make it go away. If anything, resting makes it worse. Walking and moving feels better, sitting down in a chair increases the pain.

I use a hot water bottle on my back but when the pain from the prolapsed disc is bad it doesn’t really do anything. I could use ibuprofen but I don’t want to drug myself. I don’t like using medication to dull the pain. The pain is there for a reason, and I’d much rather be treated so that the pain doesn’t arise in the first place. When a slipped disc doesn’t get better over years or decades (as in my case) what are the treatment options? I wish I knew. I wish I was under a consultant. I wish I was receiving treatment.

But of course, you can’t get anywhere near a doctor or specialist these days. GPs aren’t minded to refer anyone, and triaging means that you rarely get through to a doctor anyway. The excuse for not seeing patients and keeping them at arm’s length is coronavirus, which doesn’t make sense because there’s barely any around now and we’re all vaccinated anyway. The severe triaging that goes on at GP surgeries, ensuring patients aren’t able to see doctors face-to-face, is a national disgrace. The protracted battle to get an appointment is exhausting and stressful and must put so many people off even trying. Which is the case with me. I have three or four problematic things wrong with me that I would love to get treated but I’m not even trying to get a doctor’s appointment. It’s a waste of time. They won’t see me. It’s a telephone appointment anyway and that goes nowhere. Lets hope I don’t have cancer, like so many others, who aren’t getting seen by the medical profession. We just live in discomfort and wait for a time when GP surgeries are forced by the Government to be welcoming to patients again.

Three Months of Grim Winter Lockdown Easing, at Last

The children are going back to school as this long winter lockdown finally begins to ease. In the UK, cases of Covid-19 are now low, most vulnerable and older people, including myself, have been vaccinated. I believe the chance of any of us getting the illness, and especially of getting it so severely that we need hospital treatment, is very low. At the moment I feel positive, more so than at any time in the past year (apart from perhaps July/August 2020).

I’d be happy for our children not to have to wear masks all day at school. I think it’s still a wise policy for adults in confined spaces, but for kids to have to wear them every day, six hours per day, is too much, and probably not even necessary. Let them be free, I say. I very much doubt my kids are going to give me, or anyone else, Covid, especially since they’ll be doing lateral flow tests every week.

Peace of Mind

I am three weeks on from my first Covid vaccination jab. From this time forwards the protection is working. My body has learnt what to do with the virus if it gets into my system. It gives me a great feeling of confidence and security when I’m out and about. I still wear my mask and wash my hands regularly of course, but there’s the knowledge in the back of my mind that if I were unfortunate enough to contract Covid-19 again, it wouldn’t be severe and I almost certainly wouldn’t need hospital treatment. Isn’t that astonishing? The virus only came into the human population in December 2019, and 12 months later we have a highly effective, widely available vaccine. It’s truly incredible.

I wish to God that the world would work just as fast on climate change. In my mind that is an even greater disaster than Covid and we don’t seem to be doing much about it.

Anxiety About Having It

Since being with Albert as he died, I’ve become more and more anxious thinking I might either have coronavirus or will get it soon. I didn’t know I was going to be sitting in a small room with a man dying of Covid before it actually happened. I’ve never done anything like that before in my life. It was a sudden event that happened without warning. I was given a blue paper mask, gloves, and an apron and told to go inside and sit with him quietly, maybe hold his hand, and keep him calm.

LUCKILY, so luckily, I’d had a conversation with my ex-husband, Paul, the day before, who’d asked about the PPE I would be wearing at hospital for my volunteering, and when I told him about the mask and gloves he said, “what about your eyes? You need protection for your eyes too.” I hadn’t thought of that, and it was a good point.

So just as I was about to go in and sit with Albert I said, “what about a visor, can I have one of those?” The nurse looked surprised and turned her head from side to side as if she’d no idea where any might be and why anyone would ask for such a thing, but I’d seen a small supply of them on a nearby trolley so was able to point them out. I strapped it on and went in.

Inside, Albert was moaning and lying in bed on a CPAP machine, which I subsequently discovered is an aerosol generating procedure (AGP), for which I should really have been wearing a FFP3 mask. But no-one was wearing that type, we were all using just the blue paper masks, even the nurse who hugged his body to her chest as we struggled to change the sheets on his bed.

I feel let down that I, as a volunteer, didn’t have it explained to me that I should be using a better mask than the normal paper ones, and that I wasn’t provided with one, or told to get one. I was just shoved in the room with my standard non-aerosol preventing paper mask. The same as everyone else.

I spent 50 minutes sitting a metre away from Albert, close enough to be able to hold his hand or stroke his leg. There was a window open behind the blinds so the room was aired, but you can’t see those tiny little aerosols – they’re so miniscule hundreds of them can fit on a human hair! And the gusts of storm Christophe were swirling in through the window, round the room, up into my nose and lungs, and back out through the window. I worry I breathed in many Covid aerosols through my paper mask that day. So now I’m just sitting here, hour after hour, waiting for symptoms to emerge.

My anxiety is getting the better of me. I’m imagining I have a sore throat or feeling breathless. I did this last year in April, and then the symptoms actually did turn out to be Covid. I don’t want that to happen again now, but there’s really nothing I can do about it. I was exposed to potentially huge amounts of aerosols of Covid-19 three days ago, and I can’t take that event back. All the nurses had no better protection and that is their daily job. Have they all been vaccinated and feel confident? Have they all had the virus and are now immune? Or are they just too busy, too caught up in their job rushing from one thing to another to worry about what kind of mask they’re wearing? Or are they not provided with any? I think this last is the most likely reason, and if so, that’s really not good enough.

My plan for me is to continue living my life, keep away from people, wear my mask, wash my hands, stay out of contact with everyone until next Friday, when I will take a Covid test. By then it will have been ten days since the exposure and if I’m going to get it, surely that will have been enough time for sufficient viral load to amass in the back of my nose and throat to show up in a test? I really don’t want a false negative test result.

If, when (yes, I must think when) I get a negative result back from that test I will give myself a reward, out of pure relief. Perhaps I should spend the next seven days deciding exactly what that should be.

In the meanwhile, just to comfort myself, I bought a pulse oximeter from Amazon (to arrive tomorrow) so I can monitor my blood oxygen levels. This evening Jack said he had a sore throat and I think I also have one. But lets hope it’s either a normal cold coming on or our imaginations.

Please God!