Updated: Nov 15, 2020
Wednesday 28th October... T minus one. Isn't it ironic sometimes when one conversation ends and an event relating to that conversation follows shortly on ? This is what happened to me.
I shouldn't really get involved with debates or arguments on social media. Sometimes though, the temptation is too great, the point too strong, and the dickhead far too much of a dickhead to ignore. If you are friends with me on facebook, you will have seen my post referring to a story in the Tamworth Herald. The story was about Staffordshire moving into tier2 from Saturday 31st October. As with all these things they usually bring out a fair chunk of twats, commenting on something they know nothing about. The self professed experts with lots of useless advice. This post did not disappoint in that regard. Tens of posts but one stood out to me one person posted "the masks didn't work then"...I should know better than to comment, there is no cure for stupid... but I did, I simply asked "how do you know?"
Now, If you want to know how stupid some people in Tamworth can be, and I mean really stupid, and only some people - you really should have a read of the comments to this post by Tamworth Herald. You will then be able to revel in the lesson in gibberish speak handed out to me, by some geezer I have never met called 'Dave' . 'Dave' uses absolutely no punctuation or grammar of any kind. 'Dave' chose to try and answer a question, that I didn't actually ask him by the way, and then had the front to insult my intelligence. I think it was an insult anyway - more a collection of random words ending in 'moron' as the last one.
Anyway, it looks like Dave's point of view is that we should stop trying to contain the virus using measures such as masks, because in Dave's World, COVID19 is probably a myth, a conspiracy, made up to control the masses like something out of science fiction.
Dave is a twat.
Thursday 29th October started the same as any other day this week. My alarm went off at 5.15am and again at 5.30am to make sure I was up. Nothing strange about that in itself, but in hindsight (isn't it wonderful) there was a difference. I got out of bed, and as I did, my legs felt incredibly stiff, like I had been on a hike. I did notice this difference, but put it down to my age, my lack of fitness, and that for the last 2 weeks I was being expected to park a mile away from my office and walk in every day.
To that end, I didn't think twice - I got in the car at 6.30am, and reached the car park at 7.15am. It was at this point I started to feel there was something wrong. My legs were in agony - i was developing a headache - the last thing I wanted was a mile powerwalk. I was here now though.
The walk took a lot longer than usual, my legs just didn't seem to want to carry me. By the time I reached the office, my headache was worse and I collapsed into my executive spinny chair... "Morning Boss" said Chef, "you don't look right, you ok?". I explained how I wasn't feeling great, and I might go home early today... My concentration level wasn't there, the headache was now banging, the pain in my legs from the ankles up to my buttocks. I was also sweating profusely, but surely this was down to that walk I had just done?
Another member of my management team stuck her head in the office... "whats wrong with you?" she said... "you don't look right". I took this as true, she wouldn't usually comment, or use such direct language.
I decided to bail.
On arriving back home, I was clearly unwell, and my other half Elaine told me to book a test for COVID19. I tried to argue the point, but didn't have the energy to resist.
"You're registered for your Covid-19 test", a text message reads after the online application went through.
I managed to get a slot for only 2 hours later. At least this time, the test centre was in Birmingham, not Manchester like the last test I had...We are so lucky to have a district nurse in the family. Abbie came round, masked me up, and took my high temperature reading, before driving me to the test centre.
The Test Centre Experience
Tonight didn't really feel real until I arrived at the test centre, at Birmingham Airport Car Park 5. Suddenly it felt like I was in some sort of video game.
Usually, the site is used as a long stay parking facility, with the car parks crammed with vehicles, of passengers jetting off on holiday, but not now.
As we pulled in, all I could see were people wearing hi-vis jackets or in white protective suits, and dozens of traffic cones scattered across the place.
We followed the makeshift track and the directions accordingly, and we stopped as two men approached the car and asked: "Are you here for the test?" to which I replied: "yes" and held up my phone to show the QR booking code.
We approached the next stage and was greeted by another two people in hi-vis jackets, both wearing face masks. One was stood on the side, and another stood right in front of the car, and began to give instructions via laminate sheets.
We were told to keep all windows closed at all times, as if we were entering a safari park.
The man on the side then tapped the window and asked me to show him my QR I had received as part of my appointment confirmation.
I showed it to him, through the window, of course, along with some ID which I needed to take along. It was reminiscent of that scene towards the end of ET - lots of face masks, hazmat suits and field tents.
We proceeded, slowly, the speed limit was 5mph. It felt like we were on some sort of roller coaster as we drove around the site - it sunk in how big an operation this was. There were several portable buildings all lined up and plenty of gazebos setup, ready for people to be tested.
I had to show my QR code once more to a different lady, before being asked if I wanted to carry out the test myself or for someone to do it for me. The thought of someone shoving a cotton swab down my throat was not pleasant, but I felt it would be better than me attempting it, so I opted for the trained people to do it for me. I told her, that I would allow them to test me. She then went into a cabin, and returned shortly after with a clear plastic bag with swabs and tubes inside. I figured this is what would be used to perform the test. She placed it under the windscreen wipers, and we were then told to drive to bay five. So we proceeded onwards, past several of the empty portable buildings, to bay 5. It was very science fiction.
We pulled in very slowly, with a cabin to our right, but no sign of anyone. I was actually nervous - maybe it was the virus, but I was shaking and incredibly sweaty. My phone buzzed as a Barclays bank notification informed me that Elaine had purchased our takeaway dinner, as I had requested. All I could think at that moment, was that we had a Dominos pizza waiting at home... 🍕😋
A few moments later, a man emerged from the cabin, wearing a white face mask and plastic gloves. Snapping me back to reality. He approached my window, which I very slowly opened. "Hi there" he said, before going through what would happen next. I was asked if I had any bleeding from the nose or mouth or any mouth ulcers. I shook my head, before he removed the long swab from the bag and told me he would use both sides of the swab - one for the throat and one for a nostril.
So, I opened my mouth as wide as I could, like I was at the dentist, and was asked to say 'aaaaaahhhh' before the swab entered my mouth and touched my tonsils. It went on for a few seconds, I hoped I wouldn't gag. Thankfully I didn't - it wasn't as bad as people had said. Next the swab was to be inserted up my nose. "It may make you cry a little", the man said as I again nodded in understanding. Well, It felt like it was shoved so far up my left nostril, that they wanted to swab the back of my eye socket... Obviously not, but boy, did it tickle, and sure enough, a tear ran down my cheek.
"That's great" the man said as he placed the swab into the plastic bag and headed back inside the cabin. He returned shortly after with a small card, which was my 'receipt'.
"Thank you for attending today and completing the test for Covid-19," a message on the card read.
And that was it. I rolled my window up and we proceeded to follow the exit signs. It was such a simple process that was well managed by all involved at the test centre, but I could not help but think how empty the place was, and what a waste of capacity it was.
All I wanted to do now was go home, eat Dominos thin crust Pepperoni Passion, and wait for the test results to come through.
I went to bed tonight completely exhausted. My temperature was raised, my body was aching. Test or no test, deep down I know something is not right, I was in a waiting game for those results.
Friday 30th October is a blur really. I am not sure when or if I opened my eyes.
Saturday 31st October At 1.05am, the news that I was expecting, my phone buzzed as I had received a text and an email. I opened the email first, which read in capital letters: "NHS COVID-19 NOTIFICATION". I scrolled down. "Your Covid-19 test has come back POSITIVE. This means you had the virus at the time of testing." I had known this all along of course - deep down. My boss had given me the heads up yesterday - her and her husband had both suffered with it. Same symptoms, same feelings - and still coming out of it herself. Hey ho - here we are, another COVID19 statistic. One of 22745 tested positive today.
The text message took me to the NHS App, which informed me of the need to self isolate for a further 10 days. To be honest though, I couldn't really concentrate on much at this point, I feel half dead.
This disease is a living hell. It is attacking my whole body. I can't explain how shit it makes you feel... Severely Aching body, burning temperature rocking up my body in waves, a constant headache, incredibly sore around my lungs, windpipe and breathing - the feeling of having been raked inside my chest at the top of my lungs, and walking the stairs is a real chore. My taste seems to have become quite metallic... and I am so emotional at the slightest thing as well - which are very odd sensations. I found myself having a little cry to the movie 'Taken' earlier... I know, bizarre right?
I haven't mentioned this yet, but I am asthmatic. I am however, today considering myself lucky. 3 days in, I am lucky to still be at home, I am currently lucky to still be breathing on my own. If I reach the upward curve from here, I will consider it a get out of jail card. Right now my confidence is not high.
Tuesday 3rd November Covid-19 update. Day 6: My taste and smell have now gone - so rather than a cup of tea or coffee, I now have a cup of 'warm'... However, no sense of smell also gives me plausible deniability for any foul bodily odours. So if I fart in a really smelly and selfish manner, well it cannot be me can it? Not using the old school yard addage of smelt it dealt it 😂
On the plus side, and I don't want to speak too soon, but the constant headache has died down to an inconsistent throbbing. The all over body pain remains as bad as ever, the fatigue still the same and the breathing still on a knife edge, but at least with the headache easing I can open my eyes more...
Friday 6th November Covid 19 Update Day 9: I had started to feel slightly better yesterday. Even though I was still incredibly achy, the feeling of being ill had begun to subside. Just as I started to act with a bit more confidence, this shitty thing reminds me that it is still very real.... The fever returns in force, the pain in my body heightens and the exhaustion!! My word. I still have a slight tightness across my chest, but I am still lucky, my breathing remains stable, no need for hospital - so for this I am very very grateful. My taste and smell is completely gone. I can sense temperature, and feel spice, but flavour, nothing. Mind you food is a take it or leave it kind of thing.
The real kicker, is that sadly my other half Elaine, is feeling very very poorly and has tested positive also. Elaine has far more to deal with than me on a daily basis - her underlying health concerns of uncontrolled epilepsy, arthritis and a brain tumour put her in a very precarious position when it comes to COVID-19 recovery.
So we are now fighting our battles on 2 fronts. This must be what it felt like to live in Eyam in 1664.
However - fight on we are. I do feel as though I have been to the bottom of the hole, and have seen the way out. We will get through this together, just dont know how long recovery will take.
I am blown away by the support my facebook friends are showing - the comments, offers of help and private messages of support have been nothing short of sensational.
Monday 9th November Covid 19 Update Day 12: So at the end of day 10, I was feeling properly on the up. After going backwards and forwards. The aches were subsiding, the fever almost gone. I was feeling that this was it, I was coming out... Then on the morning of day 11, and completely out of the blue, my assertion of "still have a slight tightness across my chest, but I am still lucky, my breathing remains stable, no need for hospital" came crashing down around my ears as I developed severe breathing difficulty after walking downstairs. After a chat with 111 and assessment from my Doctor, I was precribed steroids and 2 lots of antibiotic. My very good friends Will and Katie riding to the chemist like the Lone Ranger and Tonto, as I needed to get the steroids in me urgently. It has now been 24 hours, and still my breathing is all over the place.... I am hopeful of staying one step ahead of the ambulance through a mixture of drug compliance and sleep...
My taste and smell is still gone, although bizarrely I can taste salt (in everything btw) and my smell is coming back for some things like garlic... Plus side of food tasting shit though, is you don't eat a lot of it - I have lost another half stone 💪👍🏻
Elaine is also still feeling poorly. Although she is a really impressive woman, and much tougher than me. Her symptoms whilst mirroring most of mine, are slightly different as well, including violent sickness. which I have not experienced. She is also breathing ok... so far.
So our battles on 2 fronts continue. No need for the purple cross on the door, or any plague masks... We are definitely climbing our way out of this deep dark hole... these last bits to kick into touch... Though this is the part I was fearing the most, being without breath is frightening, very frightening.
Its a shifty bastard and no mistake....
I know that we will get through this together, we just dont know how long full recovery will take. The doctor seemed to think a minimum 3 weeks for me, and even then my exhaustion may continue on for months!! To think that government isolation recommendation is 10 days - just goes to show, how mobile and slippery this fucker is. Its a shifty bastard and no mistake.
I keep trying to remind people - This is not a game, it is not a conspiracy, it is real, and it kills. Just as easily as writing these social media updates from my bed, between sleeps - well, I could have not had the strength to do them at all, and been in a hospital bed - So far myself and Elaine have dodged those bullets.
The support of our friends and family - the comments, offers of help, the actual help and private messages of support have been nothing short of truly sensational. I tell you, anybody that doubts the underlying good nature of the human race, are mistaken. So many good decent people out there. I do have to mention special shout outs though - big Cliff - we will take you up on that dinner, when we can taste something fella. Then my old pal Mark who has called me every day just to check in, share his own COVID19 experiences, and share old times... The list could go on, so many offers of support - we are very very grateful.
I want to hug loved ones a bit tighter and share my experiences with anybody that it will help.
Saturday 14th November. Covid 19 Update Day 16: Yesterday was my son, Oliver's birthday. I face-timed him, I reminisced, I counted my blessings, and thanked God that I was fit enough to spend this time together, yet apart. I am so grateful to be coming through this viscious fuck of a disease. I want to hug loved ones a bit tighter and share my experiences with anybody that it will help.
I think I am near the end. I am feeling properly on the way back. After going backwards and forwards for 2 weeks. The aches have gone, the fever has gone. I am back to a slight tightness across my chest, which is a hell of a lot better than it has been. Although still a worry, because I want clear breathing, but this is a massive step forward... Through a combo of drug compliance and sleep I seem to have dodged yet another bullet. Nothing can be taken for granted though - in line with doctor advice, I went in the garden yesterday for some fresh air and a potter.... Within half hour, I was back on the sofa gasping for air. You know what though - I can manage that - I have managed weezy breathing my whole life. Yes it is very difficult, but not impossible - when you have been through impossible, very difficult is a walk in the park.
My taste and smell are still largely gone - not much is getting through apart from the sharpest flavours like salt, onion and not necessarily the flavours but the heat of spices. My smell is also coming back for some things like garlic, but very little else...
I am not sure when the exhaustion will dissapate, but you know what, I will take tiredness, that can be cured with sleep.... And I am really good at that.
Elaine is also coming well out the other side. Like I said before, a truly impressive woman, much tougher than me. Her fight with COVID19 and against the backdrop of her own underlying health issues, has been nothing short of inspirational ❤️
So this horror seems to be coming to an end for us, we are going over the top. In the week of Armistice Day, the COVID19 guns fall silent, and we are declaring victory in our own private battle. I am hopeful that in a couple of days I can return to some sort of work... In a safe way, naturally.
You know, nothing spells disaster like complacency - of course this is not over. We are still in the midst of pandemic, and in a lockdown situation. So again, I implore you all, please continue to look after each other, listen to advice, and wear a mask. This is not a game, it is not a conspiracy, it is real, and it kills.
We are the lucky ones, and don't I feel it. If anybody needs any help coming to terms, advice or just to chat through anything related to COVID and our experience - please do not hesitate to contact me via messenger. I know how deep the well feels, and how lonely it can be in there without support.
It is nearly Christmas - the season of goodwill to all men. This year, those words mean so much more.
Thank you all.