As coronavirus continues to spread throughout the UK, many of us will know someone who either has or has had the illness. We hear all about the main symptoms in the press – dry cough, fever, body aches – but what does it actually feel like to have COVID-19, isolated in a room away from your family for days on end? Mummy blogger Laura Rutherford, who lives in London with her husband Tye and their sons Harry, ten, and Stanley, five, is suffering from suspected coronavirus right now and she shared her daily diary with HELLO!. Read her personal account below…
WATCH: The effects of coronavirus on the body
Thursday 19th March
Following Boris’s announcement, all schools close tomorrow so just one more day left for the boys. Picked them up from school this afternoon and began to feel achy and fluey. I’ve been chilly all day, but then it is a lot colder and damper today compared to yesterday.
It’s now 6.45pm and I’ve dragged myself up to bed. The headache and slight temp of 38.1 has knocked me for six and I just want to be snuggled and warm in my bed! I’ve got a scarf wrapped around me and some slipper socks to keep my tootsies warm.
Laura with her husband Tye and sons Harry and Stanley
I’m really hoping this isn’t the Corona and that I wake up tomorrow feeling a ton better. Harry’s already feeling anxious about the prospect of tomorrow being his very last day in primary school (seeing as we’ve no idea when schools will re-open), and missing out on his SATS, end of year play, leavers service and year 6 disco! I’ve reassured him that no matter what happens, we’ll celebrate his final year either way!
If I wake up tomorrow feeling the same, then I won’t be able to send the boys into school on their last day, and as instructed by Boris, we’ll have to spend the next 14 days quarantined!
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Friday 20th March
Had the worst night’s sleep. Constant dulling migraine, stiff neck, chills and fever. Before falling asleep my temperature was 38.2 with nausea. Took it again at 6am and it read as 38.7. Just trying to get enough water down me and paracetamol to keep the fever at bay.
I can deal with the achy fluey feelings, but it’s the migraine that I absolutely hate. Reminds me of when I was pregnant and suffered continuously with headaches throughout.
Tye is in denial that we have to now self-quarantine for 14 days and I told him he needs to take it more seriously. The boys are now home and looks like we’re stuck within these walls now for the time being. Have had lots of offer of help from friends and family but I think for now we’re all good and will be hunkering down.
Tea and toast in bed for me this morning. Now the eye mask is going back on and I’m going to try and sleep some more.
Saturday 21st March
Woke up with a temperature of 38.3. The migraine is constant and paracetamol doesn’t seem to be easing it - only bringing the fever down enough to be able to cope and manage. My chest feels as though someone is sitting on it and each breath feels bruised. I got Tye to blacken out the bedroom windows with bin liners because the brightness hurts my head so much. They don’t completely black out the room but it certainly helps!
I’ve been on and off my laptop in bed watching Netflix series and the odd movie in between napping. My sisters have been entertaining me on the Houseparty app, sending me well wishes and making me laugh with their attempts of home-schooling!
Sunday 22nd March
Today is Mother’s Day and I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sadness for everyone in the world right now who might not be able to see their mummies. We’re living in such bizarre surreal conditions and it’s a matter of time frankly before we all start to go stir crazy.
This is day four of having Coronavirus symptoms. So far it’s been an on-off fever, constant migraine, stiff neck, flu-like aches, intense chest pains and sensitivity to light. My temperature has fluctuated pretty much between 38 and 38.8, with it reaching the latter this afternoon. I felt like today could have been my peak. It’s the highest my temperature has been and it totally knocked me sideways, so much so I was cold and shivering in bed and could barely move.
Hearing the boys trying to entertain themselves and Tye trying his very best to be patient with them has been heart-breaking. I’ve reassured the boys that I can’t wait to play with them and be busy with them. The helplessness of laying in my darkened room is emotionally painful and this evening I’ve let all of the tears flow. If I’m honest, I’m surprised I’ve managed to keep them at bay this far!
Tye’s experiencing a lot of heightened emotions too right now, although the difference between him and I is that he doesn’t necessarily like to talk about them. His dad is still in hospital on life support, in another country, which pains him incredibly because he can’t just pop to visit him. What’s worse is of course that no one can visit him now because of Corona. Tye's work has all but gone in the midst of all of this.
Monday 23rd March
Continued resting with Netflix. No changes or developments.
Tuesday 24th March
Finally my temperature is at bay and it’s not been raised in the last 12 hours or so. The headache is disappearing with paracetamol now which it wasn’t before. HOWEVER, my chest is so painful and breathing is becoming difficult mainly come the evening. Trying to close my eyes and remind myself how to breathe properly because I keep finding my breath is becoming very shallow. It’s been causing me to feel shaky and dizzy - to the point where I did even consider calling for paramedics this evening.
My breathing right now as I lay in bed (9pm) is currently calm so I’m going to try and get some sleep and re-assess it in the morning. If my chest is still painful I think I may seek some advice. I’ve used my inhaler frequently today because I’ve definitely needed it. But I don’t know how much I should be relying on it for. Oh, and I’ve lost all sense of smell and taste which is bloody annoying!!
Stanley had a fever in the night last night so I’ve been keeping an eye on him through the day. I worry especially that he’ll need his inhalers a lot more right now with the virus going around. I get paranoid about his fragile chest, especially with his history of pneumonia.
Laura with her sons back in February
Wednesday 25th March
Day six and finally woken up with NO headache. Just praying it doesn’t come back on today.
It’s 4pm and I’ve lasted all day without a headache but I can feel one creeping on so I’m going to try and have a nap in the hope it subsides. I’ve been on top of my Ventolin inhaler and intend on keeping that up for the time being. I woke up this morning feeling as though I’ve turned a corner, so it would be nice to feel even better tomorrow. Still have no taste and smell and feel like I have a lot of mucus on my chest.
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Thursday 26th March
Probably the first day I don’t have pains in my chest. I can take a breath fully without the intense pain. The last week my chest has felt constantly bruised. Today it’s nice to remember how my chest is meant to feel! I’ve not had a fever now for three days, the migraines have disappeared and I’m left with a mild mucus cough and just a feeling of being rung out. My asthma inhaler has helped me incredibly. Without it I think I would have insisted the other night when I was struggling to breathe that I be seen in hospital.
I’ve always maintained that I have not wanted to call for medical help/assistance unless it was 100% necessary. I’ve not wanted to block the NHS lines when I know there are thousands of ‘high risk’ people that need medical attention. My thoughts have consistently been that I would do my very best to ride out the symptoms but also be in tune with my own body by recognising when I may have needed help.
The other night when I was struggling with my breathing, I lay in bed with a million thoughts going through my head: would I know if I was doing the right thing? What if I was making things worse by waiting things out? Was I second-guessing things? Do I need steroids to help my chest? Will I waste paramedics' time if I were to call them here? It’s SO hard to know what to do and what is best.
Lots of people have found my updates on social media useful because they too have been experiencing symptoms and none of us really do know how we are to react, how to address them, when to seek medical attention. All I know is that I’ve tried not to panic. Worry and panic only make you feel worse.
The constant flu-like feeling, fever, migraines and difficulty breathing are not nice. But if like me you’re not ‘high risk’ as such, then it’s best to just tune in to your body, close your eyes, sleep as much as you can, keep your fluids up, have paracetamol and take one day at a time. I’ve drunk copious amounts of tea, drunk litres and litres of water, ate when I’ve been hungry and slept on and off for days. I couldn’t have done it all without Tye being here to let me.
My sensitivity to light has gone and I can enjoy the sun coming into my room at last. I’m not in a hurry to mingle with the family just yet because I really want to avoid them getting sick, but I am so desperate to cuddle the boys and snuggle up on the sofa with them. I’ve been told that after seven days you no longer need to self-isolate from your family. Also counting down the days until I can enjoy a large glass of rosé (and eventually be able to taste it)!
It's 8pm and the NHS ‘clap for our carers’ was emotional to say the least.
Friday 27th March
Woke up at 4.30am with the most painful migraine to date. Took a couple of paracetamol and had to wait uncomfortably for what felt like hours (think it was only an hour) in order for them to start kicking in until I fell asleep again. It’s now 9.30am, I’ve just woken up and the migraine is CONSTANT. Argh, this has set me back a bit. Hoping it’s nothing to do with the virus but it’s not normal for me to simply ‘wake up’ with them. Other than my head, I think I feel fine.
A family trip to the beach in February
Life goes on around me... I can hear Tye helping Stanley with his schoolwork downstairs and Harry’s working at his desk in his room. His head just popped round my bedroom door to have a moan about the fact he has 26 pages to do today!!
Headache has been lingering all day. I had to take some Ibuprofen in order to ease it off a little. Chest is tighter again and generally been groggy and achy. Feels like one step forward and two steps backwards :(
Saturday 28th March
Sad morning. We found out that Tye’s dad has passed away (in Istanbul) so puts everything into perspective. Harry’s got a fever of 39.9 so he’s dosed up with Calpol on the sofa.
If there’s any time to come out of self-isolating it’s now, so I’m back with the family, giving everyone cuddles and ultimately supporting Tye. I had a terrible night’s sleep. Chest is tight this morning and very achy but ploughing on for my team.
Sunday 29th March
Harry slept on one sofa and I on the other so that I could keep an eye on his fever, which I’m controlling with Calpol. Other than a temperature, he says he feels ok. I woke up with my headache still lingering and have the continued niggling pain and tightness in my chest. Still no sense of taste or smell.
Spent the afternoon/ evening knocked off my feet. Have felt chilly, fatigued, and breathless.
Monday 30th March
Struggling to get around the house without shaking from my breathing. Short sharp breaths. For the first time in the last 11 days I’m calling 111 NHS for advice on my chest because my asthma inhalers are no longer making things easier. Preparing now for the long wait time to be connected to an advisor. Due to high demand for the service you have to be expected to wait over an hour.
Finally got through to 111 and was told to wait for a call back from a clinician. That was at 10.30am. It got to around 3ish and I decided to call my GP surgery who said one of the doctors would call me back. They did so promptly and prescribed me a Steroid inhaler available for collection within an hour at my chemist. The NHS clinician finally called me back around 5.30pm (7 hours later) to advise that I go straight to A&E if I think I’m struggling for oxygen.
Tuesday 31st March
Woke up with what feels like a normal chest. Breathing normal and no deep pain. The sun is shining and my steroid inhaler seems to have been my saving grace! Gone are my short sharp breaths and for the first time in over a week, I finally feel like I have working lungs!
Read Laura's next diary entry here tomorrow…
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