There’s never a good time to get Covid, but I was surprised to catch it for the first time just as the NHS tracking app expired.
With reduced immunity due to rheumatoid arthritis and asthma, I’m clinically vulnerable and have had every vaccine offered. When I phoned 111 for advice, they told me I qualified for anti-viral medication, which was only on my radar as something President Trump had been prescribed early in the pandemic. He’s not my usual role model, but given the alternative was “high risk of serious complications and death”, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
The Latinesque name of the drug, Paxlovid, made it sound more appealing, suggesting a treatment involving peace and love. The small print explained the drug’s action in more combative terms: it targets the virus in my bloodstream to stop it replicating. I pictured a medical team in a submarine, miniaturised and injected into my veins, as in the 1960s cult sci-fi classic, Fantastic Voyage.
That may not be quite how Paxlovid works, but I’m pleased to say it hastened my recovery, and I escaped without the classic cough or fever that characterised early Covid cases. However, I’m still not back up to my normal speed.
Some days I feel like an old 78 record playing at 16rpm.
The experience taught me three things I’d like to share in case they help any readers in a similar position.
- Covid is a chameleon. For the first few hours, it fooled me into thinking I had either hay fever or an allergic reaction to carpet dust in our bell ringing tower. Sneezing and bell ringing are not a good mix. Only when flu-like pains woke me through the night did I realise it was something more serious. A positive Covid test next morning confirmed my fears.
- I’m a dolt for not realising this sooner: testing negative doesn’t mean you’re better. The helpful 111 medic advised me to retest five days after testing positive. I felt so ill that I almost didn’t bother, but I obeyed her anyway. Result: negative. Although I wasn’t fit for bell ringing or anything else for a while, it was of psychological benefit to know I was no longer a public health hazard.
- Covid changed my perception of time. When healthy, my default is to do everything at high speed (except drive, you’ll be relieved to hear). While unwell, what usually takes me minutes took hours. Meanwhile, the clock kept whizzing round. Unable to believe three hours had gone by in what felt like 15 minutes, I checked the battery, assuming it had expired 21 hours before.
While the clock was working perfectly, recharging my own battery is going to take time. But what better excuse to spend June resting in the garden, watching my husband do all the work? There’s a first time for everything, not only for Covid.
This post was originally written for the June 2023 issue of the Tetbury Advertiser.
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I’ve been writing short, pithy columns for this award-winning Cotswold magazine since 2010, and so far there are two collections of my Tetbury Advertiser columns available in ebook and paperback formats, Young By Name and Still Young By Name. Click the cover images below to order your copies online, or request them from your local bookshop. The rural images on the covers were painted in watercolours by my talented father,