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Woodland Stream

Sophie’s story

Published 10/05/2020

Just before lockdown I started to feel odd – tight-chested and a bit dizzy, and very tired. Nothing else – no fever, no cough, and taste and smell all working fine… because I’d just moved into our new house which is still a building site & full of brick dust, I just assumed it was that and stress, and nothing to worry about. First week of lockdown was juggling full-time work (suddenly all on screens) whilst coaxing two teens into homeschooling, and managing the builder, who was still working outside at a distance. I was feeling worse and worse, breathless and tight chested – as if I had a small child sitting on my upper chest. Each Zoom call took more and more out of me, and required more recovery. I worked like that for 2 weeks, feeling worse and worse, but thinking that if I WAS going to get Covid19, I’d better get all my work in order first, so I could hand it on to a colleague!

After two weeks, I realised I really couldn’t go on, and was signed off sick from work for a fortnight (which has been extended). It was such a relief to go to bed! I stayed there for 10 days with the occasional outing to sit in the sunshine in the garden. Every interaction with another human (even the lovely ones in my house) has felt invasive and difficult. I’ve not been able to read anything or watch anything really… just stare out off the window and do virtually nothing. That’s what has felt most restorative.

My symptoms worsened after a week of being in bed – my breathing was worse and I began to get alarmed that I wasn’t getting better. A friend had lent me a pulse-oximeter which showed my oxygen levels were ok (and has been brilliantly reassuring) but a call to the GP suggested I should go into A&E. That was a weird experience – being triaged in the carpark because they didn’t know whether to put me into the Covid side of the hospital or not. In the end, as I had no temperature or cough, I ended up in the non Covid side, for a 5 hour stay. They took chest x-rays and bloods and ECG and all sorts of other things, and finally decided that I must have had the virus, and this was the post viral phase. They didn’t test me for C-19 as ‘it would only have been 60% effective’ given I was past the infectious phase. There were lots of others in A&E that day who had similar symptoms, so the doctor felt he was beginning to see a pattern to the virus, and that recovery was taking a long time.

I’m still off work. My breathing is still bad if I talk for more than a couple of minutes, and if I push through that, I get a dreadful headache and dizziness. Mornings are often worst – there’s something about lying down that makes everything sore. My right lung burns in the morning after sleeping on it all night, and my head aches as if I’ve got a hangover. I’ve found simple & gentle energy based/tai chi type exercises have been really helpful. My energy is better this week, and I’m out of bed – but I’m still napping for two hours every lunchtime… dreading the return to work, feeling I need to go back soon but knowing it’s likely to wipe me out. I count myself lucky in so many ways because my symptoms have been so minor, but the fatigue, dizziness and the persistent breathlessness aren’t going away.