The morning I arrived home from a work trip the first thing I did was visit my parents. The next day I showed symptoms of what would turn out to be Coronavirus. My mum is undergoing is undergoing treatment and is immunocompromised. The anxiety I felt in the next few days would be the some of the worst I have ever felt.
I’m a womenswear buyer and travel a lot with work. This trip myself and some colleagues had been to the UK and the US. The travel advice at the time only had warnings about China but even still we took a lot of precautions practically bathing ourselves daily in hand sanitizer.
Initially when I got back I didn’t have any symptoms. I saw mum. I saw dad. Spent the day with my partner. The next day the symptoms came on, fast. Headache, stuffed up, fevers. This was early on in the whole palava. The very next day I went to my doctor who tested me for Coronavirus but suspected it was more likely the common flu so tested me for that also. Four days later I was advised by a nurse at the doctor’s surgery that my tests were negative and while I felt relieved I still felt extremely unwell.
The achy pains were the worst, just unremitting pain similar to what I had felt when I had the shingles many years prior. The headaches were awful and kept at bay with constant paracetamol. About a week into having symptoms I completely lost my sense of smell and taste. Eventually my taste has come back but putting my nose into a rose to deeply inhale its scent I get just the faintest whiff only. The fatigue was incredible. I would sleep 12-15 hours per day. The day after I received my ‘negative results’ a phone call came back that they’d in fact advised that I was negative for the common flu but that I had tested positive for Coronavirus.
I spent 18 days completely in quarantine. Each day the Dept of Health and Human Services would call to check in with me. Initially I was told that I would be released from quarantine after I completed two negative swabs. But then they realised they didn’t have enough tests. Much to my surprise the criteria was then changed to be ‘three consecutive days without a fever’. To be honest it was a bit of a shit-show.
Colleagues that I travelled with also tested positive for the virus. Remarkably though of the 40 or so people we had had close contact with since our return not a single person tested positive for the virus.
Isolation has been tough. I have always suffered from anxiety and initially there were days where I didn’t even get out of bed. I have coped through speaking with my family and friends every day. My brother lives in Copenhagen and he has been great particularly getting a perspective from another side of the world.
While it’s been tough, similar to a lot of people, I have also found this whole pandemic really great for placing life in perspective. Working in the fashion industry my hours have been temporarily reduced but it has also made me question what is most important. Why do we work so much? What do we prioritise? What do we actually need?
I have found the greatest solace in painting. I have always practiced art but having the time now to prioritise this practice has meant it has now become a daily ritual and it has been incredibly rewarding. I’ll continue to paint and wait for the chapter ‘Post Corona’ to begin.