Every one of us has a story to tell about COVID-19.
If we haven’t had personal experience yet, we know someone who has. And the longer this pandemic continues, and the more variants that develop, the more stories we will hear. The most interesting thing is just how different these stories are—they are each as unique as you and I.
Catching Covid feels like a bit of a gamble, as no one knows how their body will react given it affects each of us in so many ways. It is the lottery that no one wants to win. Those who hit the jackpot end up in hospital fighting for their lives—win the bonus ball as well and our prize is death.
It’s not surprising then, that when we first suspect we have Covid, we will experience an element of fear. Statistically, we lower the odds when we are vaccinated, but I had only received my first dose—ironically, I was due to have my second the day we received our positive test results.
In our house, my children displayed symptoms first, not the typical ones, but they were unwell and had been in contact with someone who had tested positive, so when my eldest lost his sense of smell, we all went to get tested. Initially, I thought I was lucky. I was unwell, but managing to function slowly, caring for my children, and doing basic household tasks. Then I felt ill, far worse, suddenly—and I was scared. I sat on the floor one evening when my body decided I needed to rest, and I felt afraid by the possibility that if the virus continued to take over my physical functions, I would be heading to hospital in an ambulance.
Fear took hold. The fear that I would not be able to look after my children, that they would be home alone and scared, that I could be away from them for some time, and even that this could be the beginning of the end. My whole being was tense, I felt heat flow through my body despite having a normal temperature, and my breathing shortened and quickened.
In that moment, I realised how dangerous this state of being could be. It was intensifying my feeling of being unwell and was surely not conducive to healing and recovery. So, I focussed on the present and slowed my breaths. I listened to each part of my body and relaxed. I knew that what was important was focussing on letting my immune system do its job and considering what I could do to aid its work. I also regularly tested my oxygen levels using an oximeter to reassure myself that I did not need medical intervention.
Over the following few days, Covid attacked almost every part of me. My reproductive organs felt strange, my kidneys hurt, my digestive system was not functioning correctly, my throat was sore, my lungs were heavy and my breathing shallow, my muscles ached, my legs felt weak, I was exhausted, but my sleep unsettled, and I experienced migraine-like blinding headaches that were thankfully short-lived but unpredictable in frequency.
At my best I sat binge watching seasonal movies with my daughter whilst our dog took advantage of the opportunity for a cuddle. At my worst, I couldn’t stand up long enough to toast a piece of bread.
When I was most poorly, thankfully, my children were already recovering, and they were able to manage with the support of a wonderful soul who delivered food to the doorstep for them when needed.
I decided to trust my immune system and focussed on prioritising my health and listening to my body. I ate nutritious light meals that were easy to eat and digest, and I drank plenty of water, fresh orange juice, and an herbal tea blended by a trusted herbalist.
I rested to the point that the washing up piled up for over three days before I had the energy to assist my children with it. Then, eventually, I turned a corner—I could feel Covid lifting, leaving my body, and within two more days it was gone. Some symptoms remained and I knew those could last weeks, but I was no longer under attack—I felt like me again.
My cough has lingered and my sense of smell has not yet returned, but I am grateful to be recovering relatively quickly compared with many. While we continue to learn more about this peculiar new virus, we can all take steps to reduce our odds of suffering a severe infection. We can choose to get vaccinated and we can make lifestyle choices that support our immune systems.
Covid showed me how unhealthy fear can be, and the importance of listening to our bodies, and caring for them.