I was meant to be writing a poem in response to the prompt: “Forward” on the last day of the COP. But my eyes hurt and my head hurt and my face started to dissolve, then I started coughing. So, I didn’t go forward, I stopped.
I did a lateral flow and watched it go positive as I figured it would. At least it wasn’t a pregnancy test. I took myself off on a sneezy adventure to the testing centre, came home and took to my bed.
While being ill is never a bonus, there is relief in being officially ill and allowed, in fact compelled by the state, practically, to take to one’s bed and isolate for ten whole days.
So the headache was like there were metal spades clamping my brain. My eyes were hot. Then sneezing and coughing and spluttering and sweating. Thankfully there was plenty of paracetamol to chug and my family all came back negative with their PCRs.
This did mean that their Sundays were ruined – we were back to church on the YouTube, which isn’t quite the same. And all my generalised housewifery was suspended as a daughter implemented a covid-secure towel policy and the kitchen began its slow but steady descent.
The illness felt like a childhood flu – with a temperature and sweating and keeping hydrated and paracetamolled up. So I slept a lot and food was delivered outside of my bedroom door. Everyone shunted round a bed so my splendid isolation was both isolation and splendid. The best thing was having a shower. A shower when you’re ill is so much better than a shower when you are well.
Much as I wanted to read, I just couldn’t for the first while. I set about watching “Grey’s Anatomy”, which I began during the gammy hand phase in May. Then I had a phase of “Who Do You Think You Are?” working on my trivia on Boy George, Joe Lycett (grim Irish pasts) Judi Dench (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are indeed dead) and Craig Revel Horwood (clogging championships – great!).
After 18 years of parenting, one does get utterly fed up of deciding what other people will eat all the time and then having to make it, store the leftovers and tidy up – so it was something of a novelty to have meals made at home by people other than me. But because of the covid, I couldn’t taste or smell the food.
At sense-deprivation max, I remember a plate of pasta and pesto. I was totally bunged up, like being underwater. The weird thing was that I could tell that the pesto was the tasty bit – I could tell it had more flavour than the pasta – but I couldn’t taste either. Same with a chilli prawn stir fry that came later – I could feel the chilli but couldn’t taste the prawns. I could tell chocolate was sweet and that peanuts were salty, but zero flavour. Very odd.
There’s a post I haven’t written yet, but intend to write (but maybe this’ll do) about how I have become victorious in the pancake making department and my children have pancakes every day for breakfast. So, there was a bit of a pancake panic but my mother came round with pancakes and a bonus chocolate cake so that was great.
By this point I was out of bed and having a change of scenery in the summerhouse (there’s another blog post I haven’t written). I also began to be able to read in the mornings, before crashing out in the afternoons. During the course of the isolation I read two autobiographies: “In Order to Live” by Yeonmi Park about escaping North Korea and “Infidel” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali about escaping an oppressive Islam/Somali culture and becoming a Dutch atheist living in America. Both of them were very, very interesting – and sobering to think that their lives were happening during my free little western life – and that similar oppression is still such a thing. Of course I know this on one level – but when reading it, it sounds so… historical – and then they hit out with what year it is and I could remember it. Most striking was when Ayaan Hirsi Ali started a new job on the very actual day I started my own current job, in early September in 2001 – and then the twin towers happened and she had her worldview finally shattered and she turned away from Islam.
A package arrived in the post. I was excited. It was book shaped and I wondered if I had ordered a book and forgotten about it. Sadly, it was a blood test kit – but at least that gave me a focus for a morning. The last time I had to do an antibody test I had just completed a fitness class, been for a swim and the blood flowed effortlessly. This time, despite hydrating and doing some jumping jacks, I had to use all three lancets and barely managed to fill to the line. The most exciting thing about the antibody test was that you are allowed out of isolation to go and post it, so I got to leave the house and walk around the corner and post it in the priority post box. (When I got the result back they said that I had had antibodies before I contracted the covid. So that’s weird. My jags must have worked, but not totally.)
My last day of isolation was a Sunday. I watched the church on the YouTube again and then hung out in the summerhouse being unable to taste a chunk of Malteser cake and a coffee. It was a beautiful day anyway.
So, that was iso; that was the covid narrative. Covid reflections to follow once the covid has actually lifted from my brain.