It’s been nine weeks since I first got sick with suspected corona virus, and my road to recovery has been nothing like I was expecting, with the end seemingly still not in sight.
People often use the phrase ‘more of a marathon than a sprint’ when something requires more effort and is more protracted and tiring than at first thought, but - as someone who conscientiously objects to running - this has been more of a marathon with no training whilst barefoot and dehydrated.
I’m not writing about my experience to invoke any kind of twisted self-congratulation with a soundtrack of trembling violins; but to talk about something I didn’t realise about this virus before I caught it, in the hope it might more adequately prepare others.
I’ve been sick for just over two months and whilst my body probably overcame the primary infection a while ago, and I’m no longer contagious, I’m still battling post-viral symptoms which have left me – a normally outgoing and busy 20-something – completely winded.
Pictured: Martha hopes writing about her experience will help inform others.
Understandably, the beginning of March might feel like approximately 187 days ago, but if you can, cast your minds back...
The first corona virus case was confirmed in Jersey on 11 March – a few days after I started feeling ill with what I thought was a passing bug. We’d seen the reporting from all over the world of increasingly strict measures put in place in virus ‘hotspots’, but locally there wasn’t a palpable sense of alarm at this time.
Taking a couple of days off work, I shook off the major symptoms within about a week of rest, recuperation and binge watching ‘Love is Blind’ on Netflix (other trash TV shows are available) and I thought that I was on the mend.
“Thank goodness it wasn’t corona,” I thought to myself, taking comfort in the fact I was back at work after a few days, when my sore throat, fever and tiredness had seemingly faded away.
Although this was true, the next few weeks I was still functioning, but I didn’t really feel ‘well’. I was restless during the nights and woke up with a dry throat as my energy levels plummeted until what I now understand to be another ‘wave’ of the virus took hold.
Exactly like being knocked off your feet by the swell at St. Ouen’s, I was struck with extreme fatigue and a tight, painful back and chest leaving me struggling to breathe at times. A kind of fog descended on me and it was sometimes too tiring to even keep my eyes open.
This would lay me low for a few days, or even a week, until I felt myself getting stronger again.
“Thank goodness, I’m getting better again, I’m getting back to normal.”
Unfortunately, my ever-optimistic inner voice got it wrong again. Recovery from this virus is by no means linear. You don’t rest up and it gets better within a few days like a bad cold or a stomach bug.
It took hold of me and others in my household, leaving its mark long after the initial infection – the effects of which I’m still struggling with.
There are days where I feel like my old self is within reach and I have energy to spare, whether that’s in my work as a journalist or in my personal life, and there are other days when I struggle to muster enough strength to do the washing up.
Pictured: Martha appearing (top right) alongside other local media representatives at a Jersey press conference with the Chief Minister.
When out on walks I need to sit down to catch my breath, and I know if I over exert myself doing what used to be simple, everyday tasks, I’ll need to spend the next few days resting to make up for it.
I’m fully aware I’ve not had the worst lockdown, or even the worst experience of the virus, by any stretch. Fortunately, everyone in my family who has had the same ‘middle ground’ encounter with covid, whilst still struggling, are nearing recovery and we didn’t need any more drastic care, than calling a doctor out to our home.
Many others, including, I’m sure, some of you reading this, will have lost loved ones without being able to hold each other at the funeral; many have been flung into economic hardship; and many have been forced to isolate in cramped, or, worse, unsafe places.
Whilst I’m bedraggled, exhausted and bored stiff of not being back to full health, I entered into and will proceed to come out of this lockdown with a series of undeniable privileges – something that this crisis has only brought into sharper focus. But I feel fundamentally changed by my experience with covid and I sometimes worry that it won’t ever leave, and that it has just become part of me somehow.
For anyone who is, or knows someone, battling the virus at the moment, or any of its unfortunate consequences, I hope you all find the strength to ride the wave back into shore.