I still have Covid-19
Now in his tenth week with what is almost certainly coronavirus, Philip Fisher reflects on his experiences and how these might inform others.
Back in March, I described the symptoms of what appeared to be coronavirus. Over nine weeks on, while the symptoms are not as pronounced, I am still far from 100% and spent last weekend in bed feeling dreadful.
In the period since the original article, in addition to what has unfolded across the world, I've experienced much tedium and some drama.
Following a week in bed suffering from a feverish illness with the impact of mid-level flu, life became more bearable, as long as I exerted myself very little physically or mentally. Even half-hour walks or intensive business calls of similar duration could put me back in bed for a few days. At a basic level, various consultations with GPs have offered comfort, not to mention a course of antibiotics that probably helped to an extent.
NHS 111 is another matter. At one point, when I was trying to make contact with my GP, an app forwarded me to a questionnaire. I completed this absolutely honestly and received an instruction to head straight to hospital and get there within one hour. Instead, I managed to make a 7 am appointment with an online GP, who talked through the symptoms and agreed with my amateur diagnosis that the last thing I needed was a mad dash to A&E.
April and May
Over the last month or so, there have been continual ups and downs but the general trend has been positive. But perhaps I was too smug.
Last week I began to increase my work rate and got involved in a couple of more intensive projects. The almost instantaneous result was a sore throat, cough and a headache, all of which succumbed to paracetamol but left me in bed for three days feeling completely drained and, if not back to square one, back to about square three.
The general consensus from the medical profession is that, in the fullness of time, I will recover completely but the doctors’ understanding of this virus is only about two weeks ahead of my own, as I went down before it became widespread in the UK – so nobody knows.
Moral of the fable
What are the morals that can be drawn from my experience? First, while I still have no idea how I caught what we all assume to be Covid-19, there is every chance that it was down to supermarket or theatre trips or, possibly, some fellow traveller encountered on a packed tube train.
Astonishingly, trains were still crowded and shops packed when I fell ill, despite the fact that the Prime Minister was half-heartedly making ineffectual noises about down the country. This laissez-faire attitude may have contributed to his own coronavirus woes as well as mine.
It is even more galling to know that I followed the law, the rules and the guidelines to the letter, remaining locked away at home for the full quarantine period. Since mid-March, I have not been in a vehicle and, for the avoidance of doubt, have stayed well clear of Durham, Barnard Castle and Downing Street.
It could have been much worse. I am one of the lucky ones who is nowhere near 70 and was in good general health.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the nature of the pandemic, there has never been an opportunity to register my suspected Covid-19 and, judging by those with whom I have been communicating, an awful lot more people in the UK have coronavirus than the numbers published by the powers that be.
That should come as no surprise given that the advice for those who have relatively mild symptoms is to take some headache tablets, self-isolate and rest until you feel better. No doctors, no National Health Service helpline and no available test to determine the nature or spread of the illness until last week.
What worries me is that the data being used to determine whether children should go back to school, or their parents to work in shops and offices, is apparently based on statistics for those who have died. Perhaps an equally important measure should be the damage to victims like me who have had their lives diminished, cannot work effectively and are struggling to cope.
The next few months will be critical. It seems likely but not certain that opening up the country to a degree may not lead to a massive increase in pandemic deaths. However, if large numbers of workers are forced to take to their beds for weeks, that could be the final nail for companies that were already on the brink of permanent closure.
It isn’t easy to find positives at the moment but at least the vast majority of accountants can work from home so they should be cocooned from the worst of the danger, should a second wave arise.