Covid-19 Symptom Diary part one

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Two weeks ago, Irish Red Cross PR and Communications Advisor Lynda McCarthy became one of the growing numbers of Irish people to test positive for Covid-19. Here she documents her symptoms and eventual recovery from the virus.

Day One

I spend the weekend with my family celebrating my birthday. I was travelling and hadn’t seen them in a few months, but I got home more than two weeks ago so, according to the guidelines, I’m safe to visit. I don’t realise now that’ll I’ll spend most of the next fortnight wracked with guilt about every hug. At this stage all of the shops are still open, plenty of the pubs are still running and the term social-distancing is still a few days away.

I travel back to Dublin completely unaware that this might be the last time we see each other for months. I’m worn out but otherwise feel fine.

Day Two

I wake groggy with a blocked nose and feel like I might be coming down with a head cold. This isn’t unusual after visiting with my nieces and nephew, they seem to bring home every germ possible from school. My fiancé and I joke about having Coronavirus but I’ve been washing my hands constantly and at this stage there are only around 200 confirmed cases in Ireland – it’s statistically unlikely that I’ve been unlucky enough to come in contact with it already as I don’t know anyone who has it. I don’t leave the house though, just in case.

Day Three

The symptoms of my “head cold” have definitely gotten worse. I take my temperature and while it’s elevated, it’s certainly not at fever level. I have the beginnings of a cough and I’m absolutely exhausted. It’s St Patrick’s Day so most doctor’s offices are closed but I finally get through to one – I fully expect them to tell me I’m fine but instead they refer me for a test for Covid-10.

I’m due to start my new job as PR and Communications Advisor with the Irish Red Cross tomorrow – I’m still convinced I don’t have Coronavirus but going into the office would put too many people at risk. Any volunteers I could come into contact with will be out in the community helping people who are already vulnerable to the virus. Coronavirus seems to be spreading unusually quickly and it’s really hitting home how much one person’s actions can decide the fate of other people’s health.

Day Four

I have the constant thrum of a headache and I’m really dizzy. Mostly I just feel like I want to lie on the couch and not move. My temperature is up again and I feel a low-level nausea almost all the time. I’ve been taking paracetamol though and it really helps with my symptoms.

Unfortunately, my fiancé now has a headache and a cough - he usually refuses pain-killers under any circumstances so when I see him willingly take some I know I must have passed it on to him.

Day Five

I’ve been called for a Covid-19 test tomorrow at the drive-through testing centre at Croke Park. I’m relieved to be getting tested so quickly but in the morning I actually feel a bit better. My nose is still blocked and I’m tired but the headaches have eased, as has the nausea.

By lunchtime though I’m asleep on the couch again and by the evening I feel worse than ever. Weirdly, my legs feel like I’ve just run a marathon even though the furthest I’ve walked is to the fridge.

Day Six

It’s time to get swabbed for Coronavirus. I haven’t been outside the house in days so it’s eerie driving around the streets when they’re so empty. I don’t have the energy to be self-righteous about other people’s social-distancing but if I did I might be furious about the group of people sitting on steps and hanging around outside the park. It doesn’t feel fair that other people are going to get sick because they want to flout the rules.

I’ve been to Croke Park plenty of times but these are certainly the oddest circumstances. The test centre is really well-run - I’m given a mask and instructions through the car window and follow a line of cars into a tunnel. The only people here are wearing full protective gear – it’s a bit like an apocalypse movie. The swab goes back your throat and up your nose, definitely further than feels comfortable but the whole only process lasts only two seconds. Everyone waves to us as we’re driving out – it’s hard not to be in awe of these people who are putting themselves in harm’s way to help.

To be continued...

A humanitarian organisation with 80 years’ worth of experience on the frontline, Irish Red Cross volunteers have been using that experience to help the vulnerable and isolated during the Covid-19 crisis. The Irish Red Cross is assisting the HSE and the National Ambulance Service on a local and national level as they attempt to contain Coronavirus and lessen its impact on the public. They are also providing vital services delivering mediations and food to those in isolation


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