My experience of Covid-19

30 April 2020
One member of staff has shared their experience of having COVID-19 and being tested. Their account is below:

I was really surprised to get the text that said my Covid test was positive. Until that point I honestly felt like I was making a bit of a fuss… it was embarrassing being off work for what was really just a bit of a headache and a croaky voice. But there was the iMessage evidence – now I felt embarrassed AND a bit weird. Who would I tell? Who should I tell? Did I really have to tell anyone?

I had gone home on the Tuesday evening with a sinking feeling; in my last conversation of the day I had needed to clear my throat repeatedly and it wasn’t getting better with sips of water. I wrestled that night and first thing the following morning. I wouldn’t normally take time off for this… but given the current climate I didn’t want to worry anyone. I mean, I didn’t have Covid, obviously! I don’t work in a clinical area, or get up close and personal with patients, where would I have got it from? But you just can’t go around a hospital coughing in the midst of a global pandemic. So I called in to the absence line, (suppressing my ‘mountain out of a molehill’ embarrassed feelings) and was advised to isolate for 7 days; did I want a test? Why not? That would mean my daughter could come home before Easter weekend, we could eat loads of chocolate, and I could get back to work the following week.

So I stayed home. I was tested. I coughed occasionally, answered emails, took paracetamol for a headache and mild sore throat. Ran the Microsoft teams gauntlet several times daily. And then, while I was waiting for the results I thought,

“What are the chances of just having a bit of a cold in the time of Covid?” and a little part of me wondered. But I still felt OK… I wasn’t struggling to breathe, I hadn’t lost my sense of smell, I didn’t have a temperature. (At least I didn’t think I did… I don’t have a thermometer. Turns out they’re quite hard to get hold of these days.)

So when the positive text came, I was a bit taken aback. I phoned my mum, a few close friends and got in touch with the absence line to let them know. Messaged my manager. That night my chest was tight and I couldn’t work out whether it was anxiety, Covid or all in my head! I slept and woke the next morning, had a little check in with myself… I didn’t feel worse. I could hold my breath comfortably, and I wasn’t breathless climbing stairs. The worst thing was telling my daughter on FaceTime; I didn’t want her to be worried, so I did my best to seem nonchalant and super healthy. I don’t think she noticed my efforts, being far more interested in the daily drama of online schooling, and what she would do at Daddy’s if she had to self-isolate there, but I made sure her Dad knew to check her temp and keep an eye out for anything suspicious.

Person preparing dough on a sunny day. Homemade bread, bakery while staying home.Person preparing dough on a sunny day.

In total I had 12 days at home, by myself. I occasionally had a tight chest, sometimes a bit of a headache, my throat was hoarse and a little uncomfortable at times. That’s the thing – everything came and went, so I found it quite handy filling in the Covid symptom tracker app every day; it helped me to feel useful too. These are the things Covid and I did together:

  • Pilates
  • Worked from home
  • Slept (badly sometimes… weird and restless dreams)
  • Baked bread, tarts, cake, a quiche and some disastrous cookies (which I still ate)
  • Had the occasional gin and tonic
  • Listened to music and danced around my kitchen
  • Got properly acquainted with Twitter
  • More online meetings/social successes and disasters
  • Checked in with friends regularly who wanted to make sure I was OK
  • FaceTimed my daughter
  • Painted my kitchen (well, half of it – ran out of paint)
  • Did some garden stuff
  • Worried before I went to sleep
  • Dodged my elderly neighbours while I put the bins out

And then I went back to work. The ‘frog in my throat’ feeling lingered for a bit, and I was tired more easily after a full day, but strangely I also felt a weight had lifted. I am aware a lot of people don’t get off so lightly, and I was relieved to have isolated straight away because at least I knew I had minimised the chances of infecting anyone else. Or at least, that is what I hoped. I suppose I also felt fortunate to be one of the people who categorically knew they had ‘had it’. It’s always better to know, isn’t it?  The time was one of contrasts – being isolated but feeling connected; working, but from home (something I know a lot of people have had to adjust to); feeling fine but wondering if I would get more sick; listening on Thursday nights to clapping but not feeling very worthy or useful or heroic. My brush with Covid has left me a bit tired, and with a better appreciation for just how big the spectrum of symptoms and severity is. I’m just glad to be back, unscathed.

If you would like to share your experience of either having COVID-19 or of working during the time of COVID-19, please contact communications.phnt@nhs.net

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