NOTE: This is a detailed account, for the purpose of those also struggling with Covid, or, those that may still believe its a …hoax!!
Covid effects everyone differently, this is just how it’s affected me.
I used to fly through Barrys Bootcamp, Pelotons, yoga inversions, exercising 6 times a week & always eat healthily. Currently, I’m on week 9 of my covid battle and typing from bed. I have been debating on whether to share my Covid 19 journey. But with so much controversy in the media, and political leaders downplaying covid, I thought it would be relevant to share my experience, and hopefully help those going through it.
I must admit, as a fit & healthy 28 year old, I thought getting covid wouldn’t be so bad. It’s now 8.5 weeks since I was tested positive and i’m still struggling. I have diarised my symptoms, from memory, and scrolling through whatsapp messages sent over the last 8 weeks. This includes: Fatigue, Body Aches, Cough, Shortness of Breath, Eye pain, Rash, Loss of Taste & Smell, Brain Fog, Dizziness, Sore Throat, Temperature, High Heart Rate, Chest Tightness, Restless Legs & Hair Loss.
First Covid Symptoms
I first noticed I wasn’t 100% on in Croatia. I started feeling tired, weak and had a sore throat. I was more fatigued than usual and my head felt quite foggy. I initially put it down to being too old to go partying! None of these were government advised Covid symptoms.
Week 1, Day 1. On Sunday 16th August when I was flying home to London I felt completely wiped. On the train home,I couldn’t keep my body up from trying to sleep on the suitcase. My sore throat started to become a slightly chesty cough by the evening. As soon as I got home I had no strength and went straight to bed.
Week 1, Day 2. Monday 17th August:
My usual routine is to start the day with exercise at 7am then begin work. However, I couldn’t move from bed, my head was foggy and my body was achey. I attempted to work in bed as I physically couldn’t bring myself to stand. The only similarity I could liken it to, is a really, really bad hangover x10. Later that day, my foggy head turned into a banging headache. I contacted my manager saying I was unable to work. Later that afternoon my temperature increased throughout the day and reached 38.8 .The cough worsened.
Week 1, Day 3. Tuesday 18th August:
I woke up in a puddle of sweat and my entire body was in pain. It honestly felt like I had been run over by a bus, every limb felt sore. It was painful to do the 5 step walk from my bed to my bathroom. My head also felt like I had drunk an entire bar. Coughing was gradually getting worse. I spent most of the day in and out of sleep.
A rash also appeared on my thigh, it looked like a heat rash, small red dots. It wasn’t too itchy at that point so I put E45 on it and took antihistamine. The same day protein bars I normally eat tasted bland (you could argue they’re already bland, but I like them!)
Week 1, Day 4. Wednesday 19th August:
I spent most of the day sleeping. My headache had more or less subsided, but a weird symptom was that my eyeballs felt physically sore. They were actually tender to touch. I have read that 1 to 3% of covid patients experience eye pain – lucky me! My chest felt tight and filled with pressure, as though someone was sitting on it. It helped me to lie flat on my front and try to sleep it off! Later that day my test came back and I was confirmed positive for COVID-19. It was a slight relief as I was a bit concerned with what else this could be.
Week 1, Day 5. Thursday 20th August:
“Like death has taken me” is how I described my feelings in a WhatsApp to my friend. My eyeballs were still tender and my rash had spread down my legs, arms and stomach. It was SO itchy and very red, waking me up from sleep in my fatigued state. I contacted my GP for some medication and he prescribed me Eumovate cream, high strength antihistamine, plus eye drops for the painful eyeballs.
Week 1 – 2, Day 6-11 Friday 21st August – Thursday 27th August
My symptoms began to ease over the next 5 days. I was mostly fatigued with a dry cough, chest tightness & my mental capacity was so low. I had a temperature on and off for 6 days. My sense of taste and smell completely went for about 5 days then gradually started returning. On day 10, I had enough awareness and strength to realise I was bored of bedroom quarantine! I managed to get out of bed and start organising my room (a little).
Week 2, Day 12. Thursday 27th:
First day out of Quarantine, I walked downstairs to the kitchen and my legs felt like jelly! I managed to make myself some breakfast, but by the time I had made it I was so exhausted & dizzy. I took my bedding to the roof terrace and lay in the rain…I could not be in bed any longer!
Week 2, Day 13 – 15 Friday 28th – Sunday 30th
My cough remained over the weekend. I attempted to push through the fatigue & brain fog by doing a couple of walks and a lunch with housemates. I did struggle though, with no energy to talk, walk and eat. My body just wanted bed and my brain was too frazzled to construct a sentence. Covid always wins…for now.
Week 3 Monday 31st – Sunday 6th September
To feel more ‘normal’ I attempted to work. Nevertheless, that entire week I managed 5 unproductive hours over 2 days. On Monday, I attempted to sit at my desk (at home), but struggled to keep my body up. My brain was like a cloud of fog and I just needed to lie down. It’s hard to describe the fatigue and brain fog. It’s just a really heavy feeling inside your head that prevents cognitive functioning. It takes over when trying to construct a simple sentence.
I was also getting restless legs waking me up at night. In addition, I became sensitive to sounds & light. That week I spent most of my time in bed. I had difficulty walking up and down the stairs, having to stop and crawl half way.
On Sunday I collapsed, my legs just gave way walking up the stairs. I often had dizzy spells over the weeks, but at that point realised I need more support and went to my parents.
Doctors to Hospital
Week 4 Tuesday 8th September
After much deliberation I went to my GP. He tested blood pressure, oxygen levels, heart rate & took blood tests. He said I had tachycardia, my resting heart rate was 115, which increased with minimal activity. To give you some perspective, my normal resting heart rate is 51. The doctor wanted to admit me to the hospital for x rays, but the last thing I wanted to do was go to hospital! So I said I would take myself to a&e. The doctor also referred me to see a respiratory chest specialist.
I went to the (removed for privacy reasons) Hospital – they were amazing! Within 5 minutes, someone had taken my blood pressure & oxygen. I then went to get an ECG, blood tests and chest X Ray. The doctor decided to put me on an IV drip to lower my heart rate. All other tests were pretty normal. There were some very minor abnormalities on my blood tests, but that was to be expected for Covid. When the IV had finished and my heart rate was lower I was discharged.
Week 4 Wednesday – Sunday 13th September
The following days my chest got tighter. It felt like it was being pushed on, or someone was sitting on it, and that I had sunburn on my skin. I also developed pain similar to a stitch in the left of my chest, under my left armpit and down my arm. The pain would wake me up from sleep in the night. I continued to sleep on my front in the ‘prone’ position, as it reduced the pressure.
On Saturday 12th September the pain got so severe, I dialled my mum at 1:30 am (who was in the house) as I was quite scared to go to sleep. I usually have an extremely high pain threshold and never anxious about being sick, but this concerned me. I waited until the morning to call 111 and seek advice for the pain. I was told to go to A&E again! A&E ran the same tests, and everything came back normal, they said that the chest pain was likely to be inflammation of the chest area. I also had covid tests each time I went to A&E which came back negative.
Week 5 14th – 20th September
I finally started feeling better! I went to see a Respiratory Consultant who said I have airway inflammation & pleurisy. He prescribed an inhaler to help with the inflammation, suggested buying a wheat herbal bag which can be heated in the microwave. It really helped! And finally advised me to see a Respiratory physiotherapist. The Respiratory Physio gave me some breathing exercises and manipulated areas around my chest. The fatigue and chest pain was becoming less severe.
The biggest issue for me that week was the BRAIN FOG. I could not remember words or construct sentences. It was so bizarre & frustrating! The light and sound sensitivity was also quite intense.
Slowly returning to normal…kind of
Week 6 – Week 7
Hooray ! I moved back to my flat in London, started work, and began feeling more normal each day! On week 6 fatigue was my main issue. As a usually active person, this was so frustrating. It was quite difficult to concentrate & remain focussed. To overcome this, I learnt the importance of energy preservation and had to take more breaks than usual to get through a day of work.
On week 7, I was able to do slow walks, meet friends for dinner and go for drinks locally. My breathing was still tough and I developed some upper back pain, but it was manageable and mentally felt back to my old self (more or less)!
Week 8 5th – 11th September
I think I overdid it by drinking with friends on the weekend – I thought I was better!
My whole body ached that week & felt full of covid again! I was able to work, but spent the week in bed. Breathing and chest tightness became worse throughout the week and the feeling like someone was sitting on my chest returned. In addition, my chest particularly hurt when I laughed. My heart rate crept back up. When I walked 5 steps from my bed to the bathroom, my heart rate monitor thought I was on exercise mode at 122 bpm. My resting heart rate was hovering in the late 90s. I also noticed more hair was falling out than usual – lucky I have thick hair!
I decided at that point to return to my parents as walking up and down stairs became too difficult. I spent the rest of week 8 working and resting with minimal movement. My chest got considerably worse, and I had to lie on my stomach or lean forward when I was sitting to relieve pain.
Week 9 12th – 18th September
It’s now week 9. The Covid fatigue seems to have returned and I’m getting more headaches. I am attempting to work though, but taking breaks or stopping if it’s too much. My hair is still falling out, and I experience some dizziness.
I went to a follow up appointment with my Respiratory chest specialist who referred me to see a cardiologist as the chest pain is likely to be associated with my heart. He reckons it is pericarditis, often caused by viral infections. Hopefully this is the cause and I can get this sorted!
Cardio examination – ECG
After speaking with the Cardiologist, the next step on my recovery was an ECG, Echo & heart rate test while exercising to check if/whether there is anything going on in that area! I have my follow up next week.
Yesterday I felt brighter, but today I’m feeling heavy in the chest, fatigued, headachey and short of breath ….its so frustrating and each day can change, like a rollercoaster, but hopefully heading to recovery!
What I know now
- Covid always wins : Don’t try to push through, it comes back worse.
- Listen to your body: Its not like other illnesses, you have to listen!
- Brain fog is real!
- Healthy diet is important: Every doctor highlights this!
- Doctors are still trying to figure this thing out.
I must add, I know others who have had Covid, and have experienced very mild symptoms, and some who have had it more severe. So please don’t think that if you do have Covid you will have the same symptoms as me. <3
Update: I am getting a lot of people ask about my diet & vitamin intake. I eat a very well rounded pescatarian diet, little dairy & vegetables in practically every meal, and take vitamin D & a probiotic everyday – even before Covid.
You can read Gabrielle’s original story of recovery on her blog here: