I thought my Covid temperature had come back again last night. My head pounded and my skin burned.
At its worst, my temperature wasn’t like in films, where the patient lies in bed with a cold cloth on their forehead and sweat soaks through a flannelette nightie. It was more of a burning sensation, mainly inside my head. My ears rang and my skull felt like it was trying to contain a fire. The greatest pain was at the front and I felt like if I could detach my face, like a mask, then it would stop.
Have you ever wanted to take your face off to stop the pain?
There was nobody around to put a cold flannel on my forehead because my family all had Covid too. Hacking coughs rang from all bedrooms, whilst the twelve-year-old popped her troubled head around doors to see if anyone needed a drink.
She was the one who first showed symptoms, then ended up trying to look after the rest of us.
It was a Monday, eleven days before Christmas when she got into the car after school smelling like a perfume counter. I asked her why she was so pungent, and she showed me a perfume bottle, a gift from a friend. ‘It doesn’t smell of much though.’ she said.
I booked a Covid test as soon as we got home.
I couldn’t get an NHS one immediately, so I booked a private test and it showed up positive whilst we were still in the room.
When the school told the Year Group they’d have to isolate until Christmas Eve, the WhatsApp Group lit up, accusing ‘whoever had it’ of going into school whilst having symptoms and waiting for test results. How irresponsible!
In fact, the time from first symptom to diagnosis and informing the school was approximately two hours. The keyboard warriors apologised. I’m not over it.
My symptoms started that night. I was shivering, the headache that still nags me now began and I had fitful sleep with the strangest dreams. I booked an NHS test, shoving the stick up my nose until my eyes watered and far enough into my throat to make me gag in a carpark in Croydon. The glamour.
By the time I got home, my sixteen-year-old was unwell and my husband developed symptoms soon after.
I admit, like many people, I’d had the sneaking thought that perhaps it would be better to get Covid, build some immunity and get on with our lives. We were generally healthy people with no underlying conditions, how bad could it be?
I felt a little better a couple of days later and thought I was recovering, then it grabbed me by the throat. Soon I was crying down the phone to a friend who’s a Doctor and she told me to ring 111. I did. There was nothing they could do.
The following day, my temperature had been over 38.5 for a week and no amount of paracetamol and nurofen could get it down. I spoke to my brilliant GP who prescribed antibiotics in case of an additional sinus infection. When she referred me to the local Covid Team, I admit to being utterly terrified.
The Covid Team sent a courier with an oximeter to measure my oxygen levels and heart rate. They rang every day and talked to me whilst I lay on top of the bed, skin burning, the effort of speaking almost too much.
Those NHS angels even called on Christmas Day, when my temperature was 38.7, and told me to call 999 if it got to 39.
We didn’t have Christmas dinner this year.
Every night I went to bed terrified that the next morning my lungs would have been invaded by the green monsters we see on Covid graphics. I imagined them bursting into my cells with their insidious spikes and inflaming the organs that allow me to breathe.
I would wake in the night, head pounding, take more little white tablets, and inhale a lung full of air, convinced it was shorter, tighter than the night before.
But, thankfully, my lungs survived the onslaught and, eventually, I woke without a temperature, and it stayed down for a whole day, then another.
I began to notice smells again and could detect strong tastes. Now, three weeks later, I have about seventy percent of my taste back. My husband still has none.
I need to get back to work, but I can’t attempt anything challenging because my thoughts are still out of focus. The right words aren’t easily found.
I want to exercise, build up some stamina, but I’m exhausted by a bit of light cleaning.
I don’t plan to have long-Covid. But I didn’t plan to have Covid so badly that I was close to hospitalisation.
That’s the thing about this bloody virus. It’s not interested in our plans. So, don’t make any. Not for now, anyway. Stay at home, look after yourselves and others, and then, when we’re all vaccinated, we can make the grandest, most extravagant plans, and hug and kiss until our lips are raw.
But not now, my friends. Take it from me. It’s not worth the risk.