My corona virus experience, part 1
With corona virus infections on the rise this Winter, I’ve taken the decision to blog my run-in with the virus that’s affected the world and changed so many lives.
With daily headlines which seem to be scarier than the previous day (how is that even possible at this stage), we’ve always had the stance that it was a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ corona virus came knocking on our door.
If I go back to February 2020, a time when corona virus was happening in the Far East and hadn’t quite made it to our shores I remember feeling a little off. While I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong, I noticed that my sense of taste and smell was altered. I say altered, I mean I could only smell a few strong things and food tasted very bland.
At the time the corona virus symptoms were very clear and what I was experiencing wasn’t considered back then part of the suite of symptoms. I remember listening to Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2, talking to GP Dr Sarah Jarvis and fielding calls from the public. So many stories similar to mine, but the good lady Doctor batted them away and stuck to the Government issued symptom script. A script which we now know was wrong.
The testing program in the UK wasn’t set-up at the time so I’ll never know for sure if that was covid back then, but I have been left with a diminished sense of smell and my tastebuds have come back to life, but my sense of taste has never fully recovered.
Living in Covid-19 times
Hands, face, space – a Government statement for living with COVID-19 has seen us change how we live. Restrictions enforced, downgraded and abolished. Vaccinations, face masks, hand sanitising, lateral flow and PCR tests are now common place and part of society.
I know that the subject of vaccination is very divisive and I’ve never offered my opinions to influence others one way or the other, but I took up the offer of vaccination when presented and experienced little side effects at the time of those vaccinations.
With my vaccination status I felt a sense of protection, but with children at primary school we knew that we would be exposed at some point. Regular lateral flow testing has become part of our week, and we’ve watched cases rise.
We’re at the tail end of half term week with the children. In our region we get our school holidays a week before the rest of the country. With my husband taking a few days off to enjoy some time together we’ve enjoyed some outings even though the weather hasn’t been encouraging.
On this particular day my husband was booked in for his flu jab. I had mine the previous week but I reluctantly took up the offer of this years flu jab as my past experiences left me feeling poorly for quite some time. Later that night he was feeling a like he had a cold and was coughing more than was usual for him. Not the hacking cough you hear about being associated with covid.
I remembered an interview I’d seen with Professor Tim Spector, who is behind the COVID-19 symptom app. He was advocating taking a lateral flow test if you were experiencing cold like symptoms. The feedback from his app has showed how covid symptoms are presenting and maps the spread around the country.
“For goodness sake just do a test will you” I blurted out, never expecting in a million years that it would turn positive very quickly. This one test set the wheels in motion for the whole family to be tested. We’ve never been in a situation where we’ve had to perform a lateral flow test on the children, so I sat at the kitchen table and talked them through the process while I did my own test.
They are aware of corona virus and I didn’t want the test to be a scary experience, but while my test remained negative as my previous test earlier in the week, one of my sons tests came back positive and the other sons was inconclusive. PCR tests are booked for the morning of the following day.
As a precaution, my husband takes steps to isolate himself from me but in my mind I’m thinking if even one of my boys has tested positive, with all our cuddles surely I must be too?
Well that was the worst night sleep. Worrying about my husband sleeping downstairs coughing occasionally. Worrying about the children and how their little bodies would cope with covid if the PCR tests came back positive.
We had to get through the test process first and anyone who has tried to perform a lateral flow test on a child will understand the hurdles that lay ahead with dread.
We arrive at the drive-in test centre, all wearing masks. We’re waved into a space where a masked individual appears at my window and starts speaking. I can’t hear them and crack the window just a little to let the sound in, but they look back at me horrified and step back before they wave to get the window wound back up. This isn’t getting off to a good start!
They explain that we will be given 4 test packs when we move on to the next bay, to follow the instructions, not to seal the packs and to use the hazard lights if we need help. Seems simple enough.
My husband shows the QR code he was sent and we are duly given our PCR tests. The process is explained again and we are told not the leave the car, but how am I supposed to perform the tests on the children in the back without exiting the car ffs?
When I pose this question we are told to proceed to another area where I am permitted to get out of the car to tend to the children’s tests.
Note to any Government representatives who happen to stumble on this blog post. If you want reliable test results from children, you need to make testing process simpler. Attempting to swap a child’s throat and then put that same stick up a child’s nose is traumatic to the child as well as the parent! If it’s a cost thing then simply implement the spit test for children only.
With tests done, we head home to wait to hear our fate. At this point I still am symptom free in the broadest of terms. My sense of taste and smell drift in and out of focus in the same fashion as my first assumed brush with covid just over a year ago, but as the day goes on my head thunders with a tension headache. I assume is the pressure of the test and the impending result. The children are ready to play as though nothing is wrong!
With my husband still sleeping downstairs, it’s another terrible nights sleep for me. I wonder if we will hear back today or if we’ll have to wait in limbo.
I’m still symptom free and it’s not long until I get my text. My test result is positive. I’m shocked to say the least especially as my lateral flow tests of Tuesday and Friday came up negative. So if I’m positive, surely we all are?
Later my husband receives a text with one of my sons results, positive. Then later he gets his result, positive. A short time later we get the final positive result.
That’s all of us testing positive for COVID-19.
You would think the hard part of the process would be telling family, but the greatest difficultly is informing the NHS Test and Trace system. Upon receiving my result I am given links to complete details online. 25 minutes of questions looking for details of my whereabouts. You have to be quite specific as you can imagine, and if you say that you’ve dined out, before you can say where, you have to select the cuisine type. Why does that matter?????
For my husband who has the children’s results linked to his, no sooner as he gets his results, he starts receiving calls chasing him for him to submit his test and trace details. When it comes to adults, you receive a link to an online form, but when it comes to children you have to spend time going through the details on a phone call.
Now consider that we have 2 children who have been to the same places, it wasn’t possible for one sets of questions to cover both of them. The details we provided during each call mirrored each child, but the operatives asked for different levels of detail. One drilled down and the other took basic information before moving on to the next question.
Isolation for us all
So now we have to isolate. The app tells you precisely when you can mix with society, but until then we are at home.