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Thursday 18 June 2020

How it feels to still be suffering the after effects of Covid when life is returning to normal for others

How it feels to still be suffering the after effects of Covid when life is returning to normal for others

I first wrote about Coronavirus back in March (here) when we were in the early stages of lockdown and it was declared a pandemic. I then wrote about it a week later (here), giving tips on how to cope with lockdown, speaking as someone who has a long-term chronic illness, which has caused me to live the last almost 20 years of my life, under circumstances similar to lockdown. What I didn't realise at the time of writing those is that all these weeks later, I would still be feeling incredibly ill and suffering the after-effects of Covid (actually I'm still in the thick of it), while the world is starting to get back to normal. It's not a nice feeling, in fact, it's quite scary because I thought that by the time the world was opening up again, I would feel, not just better health-wise, but also safe.

I don't know what stage your country is at, but we are supposed to be in phase 2 ( of 5, which were set out in early May), but last week, it was decided that instead of being in phase 2, we'd re-name it phase 2.5 as some of the plans from phase 3 were brought forward. In actual fact, some of the rules from phase 5 kicked in last week, with non- essential shops opening. It seems to me that the only rules left from phase 5 are that those over 70 or medically vulnerable, should still stay at home, although you can welcome a small number of guests into your home (at a social distance) and there is still no date for weddings to re-start or cinemas to open (oh, and we don't know when hair salons or beauticians can open but pubs can open in a fortnight - how does that make sense?).

When the initial 5 phase plan was set out, I printed the rules for each phase and put them up in the kitchen so that if we were in any doubt, we could refer to the rules. This was also because I felt that as we made it through each stage, with the numbers in hospital and the number of infections lowering, we could feel more confident with each stage. Condensing 5 stages into what now looks to be 3 (although we still don't know for sure, maybe it is only 2.5) has taken that security away.

People are still dying daily - we may have flattened the curve, but we haven't crushed it. The R number was slightly raised last week and the average number of people that an infected person was in contact with had risen from under 2 to 3.5 - and this was all before the shops opened. How the hell do they expect to do track and trace now that the shops are open? Plus, many people are not wearing face masks. I have always enjoyed listening to Professor Luke O'Neill and he has been advocating the use of masks in public places for months and said that the evidence shows that it has saved 78,000 lives in Italy since the introduction of mandatory wearing of masks. Why can't the men running our country just grow some balls and tell us that it's mandatory and that fines will be imposed if you are caught not wearing one?

I understand (well, hope) that the worst is over us and that hopefully a second wave wouldn't be as severe but that really is of little comfort to those of us still suffering the after effects because for some people, it was similar to a mild flu, but for others, it was all-encompassing, especially on top of a pre-existing illness (and I also got proper flu and tonsillitis in between too). I am now in the midst of the worst relapse of Lyme that I have ever experienced and it feels like I am at the bottom of Mount Everest and Mount Everest is just a normal, every day life.

I understand the need to get back to a normal life - isn't that what we all want and have been working towards but those who are in the biggest rush are ones least affected by the illness. I thought that such a disease that could be caught by anyone, would teach people a little about what life is like for those with chronic illness, stuck at home all the time. I thought that maybe more compassion would be shown to those still ill and, possibly even more respect.

I don't feel safe. I don't want to let anybody into my house unless I know where they have been in the last 14 days and how many people they have been in touch with and even then, I will just sit inside and they can sit in the garden - I will talk to them through a window, I know some people may think this is rude but it's my prerogative given that I felt at one point that I must be dying as I was so ill.. I don't feel safe enough to leave my house because I think we all know at least one Covidiot who didn't stick to the rules. There is no hard evidence that once you get the virus once, that you are immune and even apart from that, at the best of times, if someone coughs or sneezes near me, I am likely to get pneumonia as I am severely immuno-compromised. Plus, at the moment, I am in so much pain from head to toe, I can just about walk out to my garden but not much further than that.

I think that had we stuck to our original plan, checking in every 3 weeks to see if we could move to the next phase, that I would feel safer. I know that my perspective is different from most who just want to get back to work and the shops but life isn't as simple as that.

If you have read this far, I thank you. I would please, please ask you to continue respecting the 2 metre rule, maintain your hygienic rituals and wear a mask in public. If you are fortunate enough not to have been infected, appreciate how lucky you are but think of those who have been. Don''t get complacent as Covid hasn't disappeared and we are all still at risk.

I don't begrudge anyone their normal life but please spare a thought for those of us for whom a normal day seems a million miles away. I am so looking forward to the day that I say to my (eternally patient) husband "Let's get in the car and go somewhere". This is not all negative, I am extremely grateful for my husband, my friends who have taken time to check in on me, my parents and my GP, who I believe, saved my life on February 22nd.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Were you a Covid patient? Are you glad that life is back to normal? I would really love to hear.

Thanks for reading! 

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