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My covid 19 story

(c) Andy Sutton 2020

April 1st 2020

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I've often imagined that the only reason I have not been revealed as a hero has been lack of opportunity. Faced with each new hurdle, I'd shrug, issue a sarcastic wisecrack (supported with well honed profanity) and get one layer closer to my finely tailored vest. It turns out I'm ordinary and need help. I'm alright at profanity, though.

Context

I'm a 57 year old male university lecturer, based in Nottingham, UK.

I have two young adult children, they live with their mum - we are all amicable and close. My girlfriend is Deborah Wilson. We do not live together.

I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes about ten years ago. This has been very well, lifestyle controlled mostly, but much less so for the last couple of years. I'm generally fit and well. I've run three half marathons up to about three years ago. I walk a lot.

Monday 13th January 2020

It's the first day of term, and I have a heart attack. In my thirty years working at Nottingham Trent University I have never missed teaching through illness. It is a mild heart attack, and I have a stent fitted.

Corona virus is a word we all know, but nobody is talking about it much. The papers are full of stern pictures of the Queen who is to have talks with Harry and Meghan.

Fast forward to...

Monday 16th March 2020

"If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for the future." - Woody Allen

I've been pleased with myself and praised for my heart attack recovery efforts. I can walk for miles, can run up to two and a half miles, and have a very healthy diet discipline. Scans show no long term damage to my heart. I feel optimistic and lucky to have had a warning that has cost me little.

After weeks off work I'm back on a phased return. I've worked five of the previous ten days, and all that's been required of me has been to meet with colleagues to find out what has been happening in my areas, and planning what I can best do for the rest of the year. Basically it makes little sense to change arrangements again for students, so I'll do some project supervision, admin roles, and lots of assessment marking.

This day is significant for three reasons:
It is the day the university announces the cessation of face to face teaching.
It is the only day since December that I have actually done any teaching.
It is my first day of covid 19 symptoms, though I don't recognise this yet.

I say in a message to Deborah "I woke with a slightly sore throat and tickly cough. No other symptoms. It's mild and I'm not worrying, but I thought I'd better tell you.". We'd been together the day before.

My heart condition and diabetes put me in the category that should self isolate for twelve weeks. So I'm locked at home now and withdrawn from Deborah, family, and friends. At least physically. Since my heart attack I've spent a lot of time stuck at home, so this doesn't feel novel or troublesome, but I have a name for it, finally.

As the week goes on I feel more ill and find it hard to work. I'm not required to work the full week, and really I just grind to a halt.

Saturday 21st March 2020

A rather lovely WhatsApp group has arisen on my street (and many others I know). I can't offer much help. and don't need any. I'm a keen amateur photographer, and I'm asked if I would put together a guide so that parents and children (now off school) can photograph our local scenery with their phones. To kick start this I go for a walk with my phone. At the end of my road is a very large set of sports pitches, enclosed by a curve in The River Trent. You can also walk along the riverbank which hosts a magnificent war memorial. There is a charming suspension footbridge across the river, and further along is Trent Bridge, famous to cricket and football fans. I walk almost five miles, taking photos with my phone to show things to try, and things to avoid. I use dramatic angles and unusual perspectives. I avoid using my good camera, and aim to show things that children can directly copy, or be inspired by. I get home and fully intend to start writing the guide (really looking forward to it), which I plan will contain minimal text.

In fact I'm exhausted and don't start. I have a bath. I watch Netflix, and go to bed. That walk was my last exertion of any kind for some time.

Sunday 22nd March 2020

My symptoms are more severe, and map more directly onto those associated with covid 19.

I'm either watching Netflix from my sofa now (with quilt), or am in bed. (I'm saying 'watching Netflix' a lot - it's a catch all phrase that also includes listening to audio books, radio plays, and radio comedy - all totally passive.)

Although I'm feeling low and uncomfortable, I'm loving all the virus jokes on social media.

Monday 23rd March 2020

I ring work and declare myself sick. Eating is now painful because I have constant stomach ache. My mouth tastes awful, as does any food I put in it. For days I've just eaten the absolute minimum to go with my meds. I cried. I tried to shower. I was shaking so much I couldn't operate the controls properly (I don't mean trembling, but sudden six inch jerks of my hand). My skin is very sensitive - the water hurts, my shower brush feels like an instrument of torture, and I give up trying to use a towel. I stand there shaking until I am dry enough to put clothes on. Also weird.

More Netflix.

I take a couple of opinions about whether I should declare my illness on Facebook. I don't want to attention seek, but I wonder whether some people might find it helpful.

Tuesday 24th March 2020

From Facebook:

I'm pretty sure I've got covid 19. Not tested, obviously, but my symptoms map perfectly. It actually felt like a bad cold last week, but now I have fever temperatures, coughing (not too bad), and some breath control problems. You'll be pleased to know I can't sing. I've got other uncomfortable symptoms too, especially my stomach. It's hard to eat. I have to eat because my heart attack meds require food. I shiver and tremble quite a lot, and yesterday had shakes so bad it was a challenge to operate the shower. I get physically disoriented quite easily. Everything tastes bland or bad. It's shit, folks, really shit. I tick three boxes for 'vulnerable' but right now I'm not worryingly ill. I know I'm not the only person in my circle, but I've decided to go public, and will post updates. Or answer questions (but I'm no medic).

I'm overwhelmed by the caring responses to this.

Although I have lots of food in my house, it's all heart healthy and a little bland. I crave tastes that might stimulate my mouth, happy to relax the regime. Deborah kindly agrees to buy groceries for me. I send her a list that reads like the "don't" part of a dietitians' textbook.

As planned she deposits these on my doorstep and taps my window. She retreats to the other side of the road while I open my front door. There she is, smiling and beautiful. I haven't seen her in 3D for ages. We talk across the street, to the amusement of a few people walking past. She has included extra items of such naughtiness that they should come in plain wrappers.

From Facebook late afternoon

By about 2pm my fever would not come down even with paracetamol. I was hot and sweaty. I went through 111 online, which recommended I phone. It's a long wait but they answered. Friendly and not rushed. They've sent a report to my GP who should ring me this afternoon. Not yet. Shortly after that I felt much better and fever came down. I actually wanted food, and had a little. Now in the last half hour I feel freezing cold, though my body temperature is elevated a little. I'm shivering heavily.

Psychologically I'm feeling battered. At times tearful, or angry, or defeated. Certainly anxious.

Current main symptoms:
Temperature control problems
Stomach feels full and bruised
Reduced appetite, nothing tastes right
Some coughing, not too bad
Singing or shouting hurts, talking is ok
Stress
No energy, I'm on the sofa or in bed, cooking is a challenge, or anything needing effort
My skin is sensitive
If I stand up and move I feel disoriented
I get goosebumps all the time
Feel emotional

People are being very lovely.

I do speak to my GP. She tells me I'm coping well. She gives what advice she can, and tells me under what specific circumstances I should call an ambulance.

Wednesday 25th March 2020

From Facebook

Health update: last night was the worst night I've had, and when I woke this morning I was very uncomfortable and feeling very low. I don't feel so bad now, though I can get a little breathless with small exertion. Eating is still a challenge - my stomach hurts and things taste bad. I've got some more comfort foods now, which I don't normally allow, but there are things that I can fancy in small amounts. Still feel nauseous after eating though. Psychologically I'm much brighter than I was first thing. I managed to shower which went very strangely, I think the heat and stretching disoriented me, and after turning off the water I stood for ages not knowing what I had to do next... pretty funny really.

Thursday 26th March 2020

"This time when her kindness falls like rain
It washes her away and Anna begins to change her mind
'These seconds when I'm shaking leave me shuddering for days' she says
And oh Lord I'm not ready for this sort of thing"
Anna Begins, Counting Crows

I woke about 4am. I've been expecting to feel better about now because this how long a mild infection might last. I'm excited to realise I don't feel much pain.

I put on a Netflix movie and pull up the quilt. After a short time everything feels as bad as ever, and I am defeated. This seems to me like I've been mugged, everything taken, then they just come back and kick you some more. (It's nothing like that bad, I know.) I cry. I cry loudly without any control. I don't remember ever feeling this awful. I keep on crying. I must have eventually fallen asleep, but I have no memory of it.

I woke at a civilised hour and FaceTimed Deborah.

Her characteristically caring and sympathetic face fills my iPad screen and watches me patiently.

A couple of miles away her iPad is displaying my tear ridden face. I am sobbing without restraint. I am shuddering, wailing, struggling to breathe, and have no words. She seems to understand each word that I can't find.

In my personal belief system there is no 'everything happens for a reason', no 'it all works out in the end.', no karma, no justice offered by the universe, no rewards for being good and no punishments for being bad. This is true of disease as of anything else.

(Kinder belief systems are available.)

So I have no right to be angry about my illness, have I? But right now I am.
Why me?
Why now?
Aren't I nice to people?
Haven't I been really good and tried very hard after my heart attack?
Why tease and taunt me like this?

As my crying calms I'm able to speak. I can't conceive or articulate the above, but I am able to say that I am broken. I have no physical, intellectual, or emotional resources left to deal with this. I don't feel suicidal or anything of that kind. Just stuck. I do know, now, of course that Deborah is deeply hurt and in pain seeing my like this, though I have to confess that wasn't in my mind at all. I can't shield her from it or offer comfort. I hoover up her kindness.

As we speak she comforts me. I'm ok. I don't know what we talked about, but it eased me into the day. We hang up. I had to take my meds and force something into my stomach so they would work.

Other loved ones hear my tears today. Tears are never far away. I feel very loved.

From Facebook

Health update: I didn't post much yesterday. It was mostly a bad day. All the same symptoms with the added joys of diarrhoea. I was feeing weak, shaky, coughing much more, stomach pain, no appetite, horrible tastes. A little dizzy and clumsy. No energy for anything but Netflix and audiobooks etc. Fever temperatures most of the day. I think I've been forgetting to mention skin sensitivity. My shower brush hurts, as does trying to dry myself with a towel. Getting dressed feels weird.

This morning has been a rollercoaster. I woke about 4am and felt little pain, and not too dried up. WooHoo! I watched a Netflix movie, and before the end symptoms had come back. This felt very cruel and I felt defeated. Big, uncontrollable cry. (I think the last time cried, before the last few days, was 22 years ago when I fell downstairs with my then baby son.)

I'm exhausted by this. The good news is that my temperature, with paracetamol, has come down to normal, but everything else feels the same. I'm angry at times (certainly not always), and I'm fed up of not being able to be with my loved ones.

Having said all that, which is negative, I'm capable of humour and fun.

I keep going.

From Facebook

Health update, 7.35pm, Thursday 26th March.

Lots of tears today. Struggling. Difficult to eat, and my stomach is very painful. Fever temperatures came back. Hand trembling is quite pronounced. Perhaps in other ways I do feel brighter. The cough is more productive, which is good. Still quite low energy.

At 8pm I joyfully open my front door to applaud NHS staff. This is a magical moment. And then to bed.

Friday 27th March 2020

The shit gets real

When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain you would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb
Comfortably Numb, Pink Floyd

I wake early and feel very breathless. My GP said that if I can't speak in sentences I should call an ambulance. There is nobody to talk to so I speak song lyrics out loud, and can't do more than a few lines. I wait a short while in case it is temporary. I can barely walk to the bathroom.

I'd started a hospital bag a few days ago. I put more things in it from upstairs, then take it downstairs. I add a few more bits, then sit with it on my sofa, and call 999.

After very few questions they decide to send an ambulance. This may take a while.

I contact Deborah and we Facetime. After what seems only about ten minutes the ambulance arrives. We keep Facetime open. He asks questions and measures things. There is a funny moment. I've obviously misunderstood something. Deborah keeps shouting out various symptoms. I get embarrassed by this and gesture she should stop. He stops me and points out that she is helping, and then for a little while they just ignore me and talk to each other.

He decides I need to be admitted. He goes to the ambulance while I set up holiday goldfish food, grab the last couple of things, and lock up.

In the ambulance they are just finalising which hospital we are going to. Shortly we head off to Nottingham City Hospital. The crew are reassuring, thoughtful, and witty. I can't see outside, but almost every time we stop I hear the driver shout at someone to spread out, or wear their mask more effectively.

When we arrive I'm immediately admitted onto Morton Ward into a side room.

Facebook 9:20am I've been admitted because of breathlessness. I'm not too uncomfortable. I may not post updates here or respond to comments. Please don't ask me questions and please don't pester my loved ones. I'll update when I can. I know very little about what happens next. I love you all.

I'm given extra oxygen, and a swab of my throat and nostrils is taken to test for covid 19. Oxygen is via two rigid, scratching plastic tendrils that stick up my nostrils from a tube running across my face.

They need to take my chest X-ray twice. Apparently I have long lungs, and they didn't all fit in the first time. They tell me this is a good thing for general fitness. Who knew?

Although I feel awful this is a simple place to be. If anyone knocks on my door I have to pull on my facemask, then they come in and either put something in me, or take something out of me. Otherwise I'm free to play music or watch Netflix.

From Facebook

Health update, Fri 27th March, 11:12am.
I'm on a ward, quite comfortable. I've been measured, probed, and quizzed. My oxygen levels are low so I've got extra oxygen. I'll be xrayed, and they've taken a swab to test for covid 19 (this will probably take about 24 hours for results).

It's noticeably busy, of course, but very calm and pleasant. I'm in a spacious side room with a pleasant view.

I've got my phone and iPad, and very good wi fi.

The ward is busy, but spacious and peaceful. No visitors. Smiles and warmth, but no trivia.

Health update Fri 27th March, 2.40pm

I've been seen by the consultant. Although we're still awaiting test results, she's pretty sure I've got covid 19.

They might send me home soon. The only reason to keep me here right now is I need extra oxygen. If that sorts itself I can self treat at home. Not that there is really any treatment.

I'm eating more comfortably than I have for the last week. Not too much hurts. I hope I can stay a bit longer. These walls are refreshingly different from mine at home.

Thanks everyone for your lovely comments and messages. I'm not responding to any individually, but they are appreciated.

After a while I'm moved to Harvey 1 Ward. I'm told this will be temporary. Once results are in, all positives go to one ward, and negatives to another. However it is apparent that policies are getting changed by the hour. In reality I'm here until discharge

Health update, Fri 27th 7.30pm.

I've moved to different ward where we are all pending results. Then I'll go to a different ward where we are all positive or all negative.

I'm feeling uncomfortable, and everything tastes all wrong. Stomach hurts. I'm really dry. Feeling fed up.

X Andy

Saturday 28th March

Health update, Saturday 28th March, 6.30am.

I've barely slept. Feeling some of my usual discomforts.

At 5.30 a nurse measured various metrics. Please don't imagine that I'm hooked to beeping monitors. It's all low tech.

My oxygen level is not disastrously low, but it is low. She upped level of oxygen in tubes that sit permanently in my nostrils. She asked me to take five deep breaths. I couldn't manage one without coughing. Eventually I did five, but not deep, and not consecutive.

I think overall I'm glad I'm here, but it's a mixed blessing. The mantra is to drink plenty of fluids. That's much easier said than done. If my water runs out I summon a nurse. Eventually someone comes. They are being busy, not inefficient. They'll say they'll bring some. Often they do, maybe in half an hour, or sometimes I have to start this process again. When water does come it's such a meagre amount I could drink it before they are out of sight. My liquid intake is, in effect, severely rationed. At home I could drink as much as I want.

Another issue is they've locked my meds in a cupboard next to me that I can't open. So they control when I have meds, which doesn't relate to food as it should. To say again, this not a fault of anyone. At home I can manage this.

There's a lovely old chap opposite who talks in his sleep with a very gentle, constant, wordless baritone. It's like velvet licking your ears. I could marry him. I suppose more realistically I should record him.

I love you all, have good and safe days.

Health update, Saturday 28th March, 11.45am.

Just met with a consultant.

Although my swab result still isn't back, my xray, my story and symptoms are good enough for them to diagnose this as covid 19. If the test comes back negative they aren't going to believe it.

They're pleased with my observations and progress. I'm likely to go home tomorrow and will need to isolate for seven days.

My musician friend, Ant MacAndrew, is doing a Facebook Live video concert this evening. He hasn't previously played 'A Horse With No Name' by America, but has learned it especially for Deborah and me, and dedicates it to us. He puts his own special take on it, as is his way. It is lovely, and we watch it 'together'.

Health update: Saturday 28th March, 21:55.

Big improvements today. Food tastes as it should. No real shaking since last night when I did get quite cold. Temperature very normal. Blood pressure good. Blood sugar a bit high, but stable. Some coughing, but not so much. My main source of discomfort has been that I ate rather too much of a delicious sausage casserole. I should have stopped but it was a giddying experience to enjoy food for the first time in over a week. A normal day's food lately has been a few mouthsfull of porridge, a slice of toast and marmite, and an apple. That was way more food than I have wanted in a day, was painful to eat, and tasted awful. So that sausage casserole.....! I'm still bloated now.

So I'm feeling quite chipper.

Re the old chap with the velvet voice: I've decided simply to take him home with me where he can be my grandad.

Before almost any medical interaction (administration of meds, testing, etc) on the ward I'm asked my date of birth. 4th of July 62, say I. The other person often very helpfully points out that this is American Independence Day. Well I never. I've obviously gone my whole fifty eight years without having made that observation myself.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow. I've had false dawns aplenty, but I believe this one is real.

Sleep well one and all, and I'll see you on the other side.

Sunday 29th March 2020

Health update, Sunday 29th March, 8:08am

I want some pink medicine. If you've never had pink medicine, it probably means you're not old enough. You've missed out. I guess it was probably something like Calpol. It was a sweet, thick, milky, and tasted of, possibly, strawberry. Very comforting. It was a joy when you could convince your parents you needed some.

Then

Health update: Sunday 29th March, 9:42am

I'm definitely feeling better. The post about pink medicine earlier was a reflection of my mood. However I was very quickly made aware of how precarious things are. I just had a shower (regular readers will recognise the theme). The shower room is about ten yards from my bed. I became breathless very quickly, just trying to shampoo my hair and soap down my body. There is a seat that I had to use, and just rest for quite a while. Drying myself, putting on clothes, and walking back to my bed, made me very short of breath and I felt like vomiting. I am definitely improved. I am definitely not well.

Then

Health update, Sunday 29th March, 1.50pm

I've been visited by the duty consultant. My swab test came back positive, I do have covid 19. I'm relieved to have the confirmation.

I'll probably be going home tomorrow, not today. They've stopped the oxygen supply and want to see how I go overnight without it. (By which I mean they've stopped extra oxygen ... I'm still allowed the normal amount.) Just stopping that is a relief because two little tubes poked up my nostrils 24/7 is very irritating.

My breathing is still shallow and won't support much activity. Just sitting still is an effort.

Monday 30th March

Health update, Monday 30th March, 8.45am

Most things are fine now, except one very important thing. Having removed my additional oxygen they hoped it would stabilise at the required 95. This morning it was 92/93. That's not good enough to go home. It might have been a one off blip. They're going to monitor and have given me some breathing and posture tips.

I've had a constipation issue. I'll spare you details but there has been movement!

I'm not sleeping well, haven't done since before I got to hospital. That doesn't bother me too much.

It looks lovely outside today, and the fresh air coming into the ward is beautifully refreshing.

Later

Health update, Monday 30th March, 11:40am

He's going home
He's going home
He's going
Andy's going home

My blood oxygen was 94 which is one less than they were looking for, but it's going in the right direction and will do.

They called mine a "mild case". I know in reality, that's true, but it has not felt all that mild.

It's odd to think this is mild, but it is. I've needed no ventilator, no drips, no vital signs monitoring, no transfusions, and no life support. I'm just a bit annoyed to be in the same category as Prince Charles and Boris Johnson. They had it 'mild' too. I think we need a few more categories. I'd nominate them for "You barely fucking knew you had it, and it lasted shorter than a dental checkup.". Then I can stay in "Mild". [Edit April: Boris Johnson eventually showed much worse symptoms and very probably had it worse then me. He has my symathy.]

Health update: Monday 30th March, 6:45pm

If this were a fictional account there'd be some last minute hitch that looks like it might scupper my discharge.

This isn't a fictional account.

There is a last minute hitch that looks like it might scupper my discharge.

Two actually. Pharmacy is being understandably very slow. Also my entitlement to transport is being debated. Actually, I think both are likely to work out, really.

Edit, very swift follow up. I'm leaving in about half an hour.

I'll keep you posted.

Technically I'm not entitled to transport. It's clear they will solve this in practice. I don't live with anyone, hence nobody 'has to' be near me, and I don't enough dislike anyone to ask them to fetch me and for me to go in their car. The staff recognise this.

Monday 20:06pm

I'm home! Won't be responding to messages this evening.

Tuesday 31st March 2020

Health update: Tuesday 31st March, 7:55am

When I got home last night I took off my shoes, checked that my goldfish seemed happy, then brought my hospital bag upstairs. I cleaned my teeth and got into bed in my clothes. A little later I woke up and fished out a pill I take at night time. I had two further good spells of sleep, and some uncomfortable, fitful moments of stomach ache. I think my stomach ache is because I'm just not used to having food in there.

This morning I feel quite good. I don't mean I feel well, but my discomforts are tolerable. I saw in the bathroom that my face has spare skin. When I went downstairs I weighed myself and am shocked to discover I've lost almost a stone in two weeks.

I made myself a hot drink, and put a few supplies onto a tray which I brought upstairs. I'm feeling immensely proud of this. Thursday was the last time I did anything for myself.

When I look anywhere around the house feel I can see a thin layer of Corona Virus on every object and every surface. We will have to tolerate each other. It's not as though I going to catch it.

I should mention the old chap on the ward. I decided to let him be a grandad elsewhere. He was discharged about twenty minutes before me. He is a very elderly man with immediately visible physical problems. He also has a cheeky grin, and a glint in his eyes which reveals obvious intelligence. He made all of us (staff and patients) laugh with his pretend gloating when his blood oxygen reached 95. One of very few genuinely funny moments on the ward. He was also by far the best disciplined among us with his face mask, and getting out of bed into our chairs. I salute him.

noonish

This morning somebody close to me has said that what I've been through has been worse than what she has been through. Her logic is that she signed a consent form for chemo and said "yes do this to me", whereas I didn't get asked. As far as I'm concerned this qualifies her immediately for sainthood, and she should never have to pay for anything wherever she is in the world. Ever.

a bit later

Somebody I know is having an emergency appendectomy today. New Covid shit has added to, but not replaced, existing shit.

Wednesday April 1st 2020

Health update, Wed 1st April 2020, 10:50am
So far, a carbon copy of yesterday. I had a shower, which feels great. It's a demanding process, though. I'm shocked by my mirror self, who seems also to look at me with a little bit of disgust. I think we need to isolate.

It's doubtless a healthy sign of recovery that I'm annoyed by the sound of my own wheezing.

"Is that it?" is the title of Bob Geldof's autobiography. It's apparently what he was asked by a fan just after the last performance at the Live Aid concert in 1985. I'm not sure when my story will end.

I may add more to this, but I started typing and assembling this yesterday, and now I'm caught up to 'now'.

I have a couple more points to make, and pictures to add. Then I'll post it online. Not the most elegant web page I ever made, but I hope you forgive me.

Friendship, love, and support

I am surrounded by affectionate, caring, and overwhelming love. Not that I have gone through life feeling disliked or disrespected. My friends have often expressed love for me. However it is very humbling to be offered a key to open a door and see it. I can't actually take it in.

On one of my first days back at work after my heart attack I discussed this concept with a very good friend there. I said that, of course, I would not expect anyone to say anything negative to me, and also, of course, I have genuine friends here and had expected warmth and love, but not this much.

He agreed with my thinking, and offered his further insight. I'm paraphrasing, but this was it:

"That love which you are receiving, it's what you give out to people all the time. All day long, to everyone. You put it in to the world. If you are stressed they don't know, you listen to them, and make them feel better. You make everyone happy."

Immodestly, I know he is right. He wouldn't make anything up just to make me feel better. I also, if I'm honest, recognise it. It's an uncomfortable truth to me.

In 2020, and especially in recent weeks, people around me have said extraordinarily complimentary things to me about me. None of this would matter if I didn't believe them. I do.

I have no words for how this makes me feel.

Warmth and empathy

I upset a few people this week. I'd asked people to think about how they respond when someone says they had an awful day but are feeling better. "Great that you are feeling better" is minimaly helpful. A couple of text arguments ensued. I was being ungrateful. I envisaged the following scenario and put it to them. Four of your friends are in a car crash and only one one survives. So I post "Great that your friend survived, Hun, have a great night, hugz". That probably makes you feel worse, not better. Empathy is really hard, certainly much harder than warmth and positivity. Same as it's easy not to talk to friends about their recent grief when we bump into them. Worth the effort, though. I've had lots of empathy, I really have.

In retrospect I regret the post, and I do know people had good intentions (though the point is still valid). It's something I'm going to reflect on, though, when I'm talking to people who are struggling with something difficult.

The future

I don't think I'll be making big life changes. I will adjust some priorities.

My son is about to buy a guitar. Right now it's one of a very small number of things I can do and he can't. He will be better than me in a few weeks, because that's how he is. I'm going to love sharing this passion with him.

My daughter is studying maths at uni. Because I teach stats at work, she thinks I understand what she tells me. I resolve that I will try to pronounce the words better.

When I can, I'm going to get a dog. I've wanted one for a long time, but told myself I'm too busy. Sod that. I need looking after, and as my daughter constantly reminds me, I'm not safe alone near roads.

Some updates follow, from Facebook


Thursday April 2nd

Thoughts from Covid Cottage:

'Downstairs' is fine as a concept, but don't get carried away and think you can go there.
Your body is not your enemy. It just doesn't like you very much (think back a few years, can you blame it?)
Paracetamol: so much more than just a breakfast treat.
When someone in the street ignores you, it's probably just because you are not there.


A very good friend of mine says to people who are ill: "You need rubbing out and drawing again." I've certainly been rubbed out.


I put this note in my window. My house has no front garden, so people walking by can see it easily. I'm very pleased I did, the reactions have been wonderful.


In my window most of the day. Some lovely responses, not least when someone reads it as they pass, smile, and wave, then return a second later with a bigger and longer smile. Favourite: a couple who did just that, then disappeared, and came back a third time holding aloft their dog (which they'd realised I couldn't see). The waving dog paw was very special!


Friday April 2nd

Thoughts from Covid Cottage, Friday
If you're going to the kitchen, think like an astronaut - don't forget anything, you might not be back for ages
Covid 20 is probably watching us and taking notes - it won't be so friendly as 19
When someone knocks on the door, don't panic - it probably means they just left you some chocolate or a nice drink
On the whole, it's better to cry over a soppy pop song than because you can't take the pain and loss of control any more, so aim for more of the former




Remember folks, when you are packing your hospital bag, those hospital face masks are a tricky pale blue that can be quite hard to match.


Saturday 18th April 2020

From Facebook, referencing a BBC News article about recovery times:

It's good to see some credible information about this. I guess I'm in the middle category - I was hospitalised with oxygen treatment, but not ICU or ventilator - and so according to this can expect recovery to be two to eight weeks. It's now three weeks since I was in hospital, and though everything else seems ok, breathlessness is still very evident. At rest my breathing is shallow and faster than normal. I can cycle, but gently and on completely flat roads, and I can't talk etc. If I go upstairs I'm panting a little. I can't take deep breaths, or hold my breath for very long. Recovery isn't a straight line ... in the past week I had a couple of days when even a walk of a few hundred yards had me panting noticeably, and I wouldn't have been able to cycle.


Wednesday 8th July 2020

And here is Sully, my new friend, a rescue dog all the way from Cyprus. He arrived on the evening of July 3rd, and we have had lots of fun getting to know each other.