“You’ve had Covid? How was it?” It’s a question I get asked a lot, and the answer is not simple. If I say “it was bad” it feels like I’m undermining the thousands of people that actually were really bad, those who were hospitalised and struggling to breathe. But if I say “fine” then it only tells half the story; I fall somewhere in between. The biggest takeaway for me is that it drags on. I am in week four right now, and still don’t feel myself. I am lucky, my job is not overly physical because I wouldn’t be able to do anything too physically taxing.
Due to my job I often think about Covid in footballers. So many have reported positive tests – there were 16 positive just this week in the Premier League, yet not a single one appears to have had anything more than mild symptoms, thank goodness. I am 43, fit and healthy and although I acknowledge that most players are a good decade younger than me, I still find it strange there has not been a single case more similar to my experience, and let’s not forget the managers and backroom staff.
This is how mine played out.
On Sunday October 18th I attended Tottenham v West Ham as a Premier League reporter. I was really excited, as a freelancer my work has dropped considerably and I’ve become a bit of a stay at home mum lately (I have a 3 year old girl and a 6 year old at school), but still keeping across everything in football, so I’ve been busier than ever.
I felt completely normal and well at the match, actually full of energy and excited to be doing the job I love. The game was a crazy one, Tottenham went 3-0 up in 16 minutes and it looked like there was no way back for West Ham, and then a final flurry of goals from the 82nd minute saw West Ham draw, and on pitch celebrations that wouldn’t have looked out of place at a World Cup final.
I hurried pitchside to do my interviews and followed all the very strict Premier League protocol. I interviewed Declan Rice and Son Heung Min at a distance of about 2m and put my mask on between interviews. I did a few PTCs in the stands and then headed off home in my car, still feeling great.
The next day (Monday 19th) I was on the radio at 2100 and I spent a couple of hours prepping. About 2030 (30 minutes before I was due to go on air) I started to feel strange. It came on suddenly, I felt hot and bothered and I couldn’t think straight. I didn’t want to let them down so I struggled on, but I knew something was wrong. By the time I came off the radio my temperature was over 38 and so I booked a Covid test and went straight to bed.
I was lucky to get a test 5 mins drive from my house for 1100 the next morning. By that time I felt terrible: pounding headache like my head was in a vice. I swabbed my throat and nose and went back to bed.
I had a bad day and night, tossing and turning with a raging headache and high temperature and around 4am I got my test result through: positive.
I can’t fault how quick and easy this whole process was and I was delivered my result quickly.
My test and trace app was efficient, warning a friend that I had been with on Saturday to isolate and I had several calls to make sure I was staying home and to see if I needed support. My husband was alerted also and my family were told they must isolate.
Wed to Friday were the worst. I experienced really bad muscle aches all over my body so intense I couldn’t get comfortable. I was too tired to do anything and slept most of the day.
My appetite was strange, I knew when I was hungry, but the experience of ‘hunger’ felt different. I could not taste or smell anything. I could experience sweet or sour or bitter, but nothing else.
On Saturday (day 5) the aches and headaches started to ease but I experienced a wheeze (which was a little worrying) and I noticed my breathing was shallow. I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs without having to sit and recover a few minutes.
By Sunday that wheeziness had passed and I felt like I was on the mend (but with extreme fatigue). I slept a lot and felt really low. It didn’t help that I was isolating from my two children and husband, which felt really sad.
The following week (day 7+) I started to feel back to normal and took on minimal work (radio and podcasts appearances) but I noticed my breathing wasn’t quite right and I felt breathless. I started to experience heart palpitations and an irregular heartbeat. My taste was still absent though my smell was starting to return a little. I didn’t fancy alcohol or coffee (something I drank a lot of before).
Week 3: I felt almost normal again (except my taste was still a little weak). I was out of isolation and working again. I was trying to walk every day but finding it a little harder than usual. Then I had what you might call a relapse. I felt exhausted for 2 days and slept 12 hours two nights in a row. My breathing was very shallow and I felt breathless. I developed a strange angry hot red rash on my face for two days. I can’t be certain if this was covid related or something else, but it’s worth noting because I have never experienced it before.
Week 4: It is the start of week 4 and although I feel a lot better, my taste is still not completely normal, my breathing is still shallow and I tried to do some yoga and gentle stretching and it was hard. The next day my body felt a bit out of sorts telling me I should wait a little longer. I have a low level constant headache and I also have a bit of brain fog, finding it harder to recall the names of people and things, I’m certainly not as ‘quick.’
I am lucky that my job is not physical but there is no way I could run or do anything more strenuous than a walk. Do I have long covid? I think it’s too early to tell, but I certainly don’t’ feel quite right. That is why I am so fascinated by how it is affecting players, with most of them asymptomatic.
I am continuing to read and educate myself but there is still so much we do not know.
Finally to address the other question I get asked: How did I get it? Well I truly have no idea. I have been doing all the things I’m supposed to do: wearing a mask, distancing, sanitising. We still have no idea of the transmission timescale so I don’t even know where I got it. Anyway, sorry if this is a dull read, it’s not dramatic. I wasn’t hospitalised and unable to breathe. I do think it’s important to understand though. I keep hearing “ it’s just like flu“ and I can tell you it is not like a flu, because even when you think it has left your body, you are left with a few little reminders that you had it, I hope they pass soon.