We were the very last people who could have contracted the coronavirus (COVID-19). Pathologically clean by inclination. Isolated by lifestyle. Yet, if our symptoms are anything to go by, Rhys and I have IT, the coronavirus.
It began several weeks ago when there was the merest whisper of a new virus in China. Here in Cardiff, we saw no reason for worry. Life went on as usual. I went to the shops. My husband, Rhys, continued ordering items from sellers overseas, including China.
Two weeks later, Rhy began complaining that his bones ached. He felt so weak even lifting the kettle took extra effort. Malaise kept him in his chair. Then the intestinal cramping and diarrhoea began. He complained of feeling hot while his temperature dipped to 35.8°C then spiked to 37.6°C, mercurially falling and rising every day. His sweats soaked shirt after shirt. One day, he had a sore throat. He complained of daily headaches and routinely applied eye drops to relieve the pain in his eyes. Naturally, Rhys blamed it on a flare up of his chronic Guillain-Barré syndrome and treated his symptoms with paracetamol. (The rumor is that ibuprofen makes this virus ten times worse!)
Two weeks after Rhys began exhibiting symptoms, it hit me like a runaway lorry. I remember the exact moment because it didn’t come on gradually. One moment I was thinking, ‘I’m starving. I should’ve eaten two hours ago’ and the next I was too weak to fetch even a bag of crisps.
My joints ached. My hands felt stiff and were so swollen that rings that were usually loose dug into my fingers. I was exhausted, almost faint. Twice, I wondered if I might collapse. The next day, I had diarrhoea and waves of nausea but somehow managed not to chunder. My temperature rose and fell many times in the day, just as Rhys’ had done. For one full day, I huddled under the duvet, sleeping fitfully, woken every hour by a strangely desperate urge to urinate.
It’s odd how the symptoms come and go each day. One moment, you’ll feel pretty good. But if you walk into a draught, the virus hits you again and you feel so sick for the remainder of the day. Intestinal cramping and bouts of diarrhoea come and go. Energy and exhaustion come and go as does the fever. The good news is that both Rhys and I had good appetites regardless of our symptoms. If anything, we’ve been eating rather more than usual. A kind neighbour delivers groceries to the hall outside our flat and flees before we open the door.
It’s definitely not a head cold. I’ve had hundreds of head colds in my life.
It’s definitely not the flu. Flu symptoms are much more dramatic than this.
It’s definitely not allergies. Neither of us have allergies.
There’s only one other option: COVID-19. The coronavirus. IT.
We discussed being tested and then thought ‘Why risk infecting others just to have our worst suspicions confirmed? Our symptoms almost exactly match the typical coronavirus symptoms. Being tested won’t change anything’. So we continue to self-isolate.
For us, isolation has not been a lifestyle shock. Nothing really changed except I can’t run out to the shops. And I have bouts of weeping.
It’s been quite validating to follow how others have been filling their time on social media. For this (hopefully) brief time in history, everyone lives like us with the homely pleasures of cooking, being creative and spending time with their loved ones. It may not be an exciting life, but it’s a good life and I feel blessed to be able to work at home all the time.
Yet it haunts me that I may have infected others while I was asymptomatic. I simply didn’t know!
On the other hand, for Rhys and I the fear is over. That was the worst part. The dread. Now that we’re coping with the coronavirus itself, there’s almost a sense of relief. We did our best. We contracted it anyways. We’re coping and it’s not as bad as we feared. Life goes on. We have hope.
Since beginning this blog posting on Monday, Rhys has taken a turn for the worse. He’s now exhibiting symptoms that the illness has progressed to his lungs. His wracking cough brings up sputum tinged with blood and I’ve developed a dry cough. Rhys’ Gig Cymru physician prescribed a strong medication for infection over the phone while urging Rhys to stay home.
Two doses later, Rhys reports that he’s already feeling better.
The good news is that my body aches are gone. Sitting in a draught doesn’t hurt anymore and my energy has returned. But in a strange turn of events, after assuming I was menopausal, last night I got my period…the heaviest flow in my entire life. Every fifteen minutes I run for the WC to change. Related? I can’t prove it, but I certainly think so. (See the Comments section below. Other women are experiencing the same thing.)
I hope none of you who read this will develop coronavirus, but let’s be honest. Most of us probably will develop it sooner or later but it’s eminently survivable. If we’ve learnt anything in the past month, it is that you may be young and healthy and exhibit bad symptoms. You may be old and weak and recover easily. There’s no logic or predictability to this illness. It’s no respecter of persons.
But it is survivable. I was never miserable, in fact, I’ve experience much worse symptoms from the common cold.
Most importantly, don’t blame yourself if you or your loved ones come down with it. You did your best. We did our best and still contracted it.
So take heart. Have hope! Take your vitamins, stay happy and keep those good endorphins flowing.