I looked at the lateral flow test. In certain lights, I could just about make out a faint line next to the T. If I turned it ever so slightly, however, the line disappeared. This was just a trick of the light, I didn’t have COVID. Nah, surely not.
It was false hope. About 30 seconds later, a definitive pink line appeared next to the T. There was no denying it. Despite being fully vaccinated, Coronavirus had finally got me.
All things considered, I was a bit surprised it had taken this long. With two children at two different schools, I’d long considered myself a prime target for getting the ‘Rona.
This time last year, the so-called Kent Variant was doing the rounds in a big way. There was such a hullaballoo leading up to the Christmas break (not to mention the fact we live on the Kent borders) that I was convinced we were going to get it back then. Emails were being sent home from the kids’ schools on a daily basis informing us of children or school staff who had tested positive for the ‘Rona. Sure enough, both our kids eventually had to self-isolate but neither of them nor Mrs Adams or I caught it that time around.
So where did I catch Coronavirus? I can’t say with 100% certainty, but I have a very good idea.
The golf club. . .
If my suspicions are correct, my downfall was a friend’s birthday party that was held at a nearby golf club. What’s all the more galling is that we only paid a brief visit very early in the evening.
To put you in the picture, there was a mistake when ordering the taxi, so we were the very first people to arrive at this party. Even the hosts hadn’t turned up. We were only at the party for about 90 minutes and left before most other guests arrived. As it was a pleasant evening, we even spent some of those 90 minutes outside.
Yes, we did a bit of socialising. As you can tell, however, this was not like spending 90 minutes in a rugby scrum or at the front of a thrash metal gig. It was a very sedate occasion.
When I tested positive, this was the only event I could think of where I might have come into contact with the virus. I got in touch with the hosts…and it turned out they had also tested positive. Oh and, er, so had eight other guests (although that number was even higher the last I heard).
How has it been?
That’s how I believe I caught COVID, but what has it been like? I had a particularly dreadful night’s sleep one night and woke up several times with a dry throat. This was the first sign I was ill. I briefly had a high temperature the following day. I tested myself with lateral flow tests but they had all come back negative. It was shortly after I noticed I had a high temperature that I produced my first positive test, confirmed with a PCR test a few hours later.
Pretty swiftly after that, minor muscle aches became an issue. I also developed a mild cough and for a couple of days, the symptoms were like having a second-division cold before becoming more akin to a hardcore flu.
Courtesy of my vaccinated status I have, thankfully, had a mild dose. Mild, however, is relative. I may have had no serious physical symptoms requiring medical attention, but this virus is really odd, affecting you in all manor of small ways while also sapping all energy from you.
The other day I went out and spent about 10 minutes raking up leaves in the garden, the kind of thing I wouldn’t usually think twice about. When I’d finished, I had to sit down. I was feeling queasy and out of breath and was having trouble focusing my vision. I had a few similar experiences in the following days.
At times I woke up in the morning feeling really good. By the evening, however, I felt dreadful and was in bed by 7.30pm on several occasions.
Brain fog is also a very real issue. Eve now, post my 10 day isolation period I can tell I am just not thinking as clearly as I should and that isn’t a pleasant situation to be in.
Then there’s the famed impact on taste. As the days passed, I started feeling better, but the impact on my taste buds has got worse. Food can start off smelling and tasting fine, but very quickly taste like there’s been some kind of horrendous industrial incident in my mouth, a chemical spillage that is more than enough to put me off eating.
One final thing. It doesn’t feel right discussing medical issues my immediate family members may or may not be dealing with. I will merely say that whatever variant of COVID I have, and I’m assuming it’s Delta, we as a family have discovered that it is incredibly transmissible. I wasn’t the only one to get it, far from it in fact. Make of that what you will.
Once you test positive for COVID using a lateral flow test, you are supposed to take yourself off to get it confirmed with a PCR test. As I say, that’s exactly what I did and this, in turn, kicks off what I shall call a process of ‘COVIDministration.’
NHS Test and Trace got in touch wanting to know who I live with. They all had to be tested. On top of this, I had to give details of everyone I’d been in contact with. This was very straightforward, if time consuming, as I had to complete details for myself and both kids (Mrs Adams being allowed to provide her own details).
There was, however, a bizarre anomaly. We took taxis too and from the birthday party (and who knows how many other party guests used the same taxi firm?). I made repeated attempts to give NHS Test and Trace details of the taxi company. The first time I tried to provide these details I was told to go and speak to the taxi company myself!
On the fourth attempt, yes fourth, I was able to give the call handler details of the taxi firm. The people I spoke to were very good at taking details of where I had been and who had visited our house, but the system wasn’t set up to take details of taxi journeys or similar activities that might bring you into close contact with other people.
That aside, I’ve received phone calls every couple of days reminding me of my legal responsibility to stay at home. I’m not sure what the sanction is if you should leave home, but I suspect you are probably forced to retrain as a long-distance lorry driver or something.
Doing the rounds
As my days in isolation passed, my phone has pinged with regular updates as neighbours, friends, my kids’ school friends (. . . and increasingly their parents) have all been testing positive. I was getting suspicious there was some kind of surge in our locality. It all seemed very reminiscent of last year when the Kent Variant was causing problems.
Sure enough, our local authority sent round an email the other day. Cases had rocketed up by over 60% in a week. Infection rates are well above national average and the most heavily affected groups are school children and their parents. As I say, the Delta Variant is a very, very naughty virus.
I’ve had a tough time and COVID is not pleasant, but I know it could be a lot worse. I’m just thankful I was vaccinated because if this is what it feels like with that protection, I dread to think what it feels like when you haven’t had that luxury. I find myself wanting us wealthy nations to do more to share vaccines with the developing world.
Until this point, those people I know who had COVID, well, I thought they were exotic beasts. I held them on a pedestal and thought these were special people. They had first- hand knowledge of what this illness was like. COVID warriors, even those like me who only had a minor dose, were people to be respected.
At the time of writing, about 9.8million people in the UK had caught Coronavirus. It’s a significant number, but still very much in the minority for a country with a population of 67million.
The number of people I know who have caught COVID has increased massively. Well over 50% of my extended family have had it and it’s increasingly working its way through people I know socially. Far from being exotic, people with COVID are steadily becoming the norm.
My advice? Wear a mask, get vaccinated and use your common sense. If you do get COVID, don’t panic. It’s grim and you’re not going to enjoy it but hunker down and take it very, very easy because this illness will knock your energy levels. Best of luck to each and every one of you.