I had a slight cough for two or three days this week, then on Wednesday I started feeling really poorly. All my muscles (no jokes, please) were aching and I had a fever. My chest was particularly hot (I said, no jokes).
Later that night the shortness of breath started. I was in bed, reading, trying to get to sleep, and every so often I would have to consciously take a deep gulp of air. Reminding your body to breathe is a strange thing and all of a sudden I’m thinking, ‘Fucking hell, what if I forget to breathe while I’m asleep?’
Having this morbid notion in your head isn’t conducive to a restful night. I even changed into a nicer pair of pants in case that was how they, you know, found me.
I think I got about two or three hours’ sleep, then woke up in the gloaming feeling gloamingly wretched. I WhatsApped my friends to warn them that I was infected, although we hadn’t had any physical contact for the best part of two weeks. I also thoughtfully informed them that I had just thrown up.
And then, over the next 36 hours – as I worked my way through Shadow of the Tomb Raider and had the occasional doze – the symptoms quietly went away. It’s now Friday and I’m exhausted, still a little bit achy, still a bit coughy, but there’s no fever and I can breathe as much air as a person would want to after two days sweating while concealed in a small flat.
Assuming Tomb Raider haven’t added an extra degree of realism and shipped every game with a dose of Peruvian jungle fever, I think its reasonable to assume I just experienced a coronavirus in the high covids. It was unpleasant, at times it was scary, but it was over very quickly.
Three points to this outburst of over-sharing:
1) I’ve been self-isolating already for two weeks and before getting ill my only ventures outside were walks to the local shops, which is presumably where I picked it up along with my fair share of essential items. I’m not aware of there being any kind of significant outbreak in my local area, so clearly it doesn’t take a lot of contact with the outside world to risk infection. I will, of course, continue to self-isolate as per NHS guidelines.
2) I’m a relatively young and fit man (for the final time, no jokes!) and although I probably could have slept in my tatty pants without fear of posthumous humiliation, it was very obvious that the virus was capable of exacerbating respiratory problems to dangerous levels.
3) The virus was briefer and less gross than some things I’ve had as an adult (oh norovirus, how we miss you). No doubt my untoward dread was increased by the inescapable news coverage of this crisis. Ultimately, it wasn’t that bad.
But you know what would be really bad? If I’d been to the pub, gone out for meals, visited my parent, met with clients at their offices, done a session at the gym (okay, now I am just making them up…) in the last fortnight, because now I’d know I had been infectious the whole time and it would be too late to do anything about it. The symptoms may only last 48 hours, but the guilt, well…
And look, I know some people can’t self-isolate for various legitimate reasons, and that’s fine. But if you can, you should. For most people, self-imposed quarantine will be nearly as unpleasant as catching the virus itself and it’ll certainly last longer. Don’t think about that. Think about the person you want to be in X months when this is all over.
I’m one of the lucky ones, not only to be capable of surviving the disease but also to get it out of the way early doors (assuming that you can’t get reinfected). I already know what my coronavirus story is going to be. All I can hope now is that I don’t have to add any tragic footnotes about family or friends.
Think about your own coronavirus story. By the end of the year, we’ll all have them. And we’ll spend the rest of our lives sharing them because this event is going to define an era. Do you really want your coronavirus story to start, ‘They told us not to go out, but I decided to go to the pub anyway…’?