Day 559 – Rough morning

Weird day. I woke up early with all the symptoms of Covid again. Headache, stiff joints, sore muscles, chills, hypersalivation – the works.

Yes, that thing as well.

Oh, and FATIGUE. Like my usual 7pm fatigue, but twelve hours early.

Heart rate is up, Sats are down. And my brain has gone completely to mush. Completely.

Of course, the virus is long gone.
These are just the manifestations of my immune system still fighting things it cannot see. Bless its misguided efforts.

Worst day in a while. But how interesting is this disease?

Yeah, you might have the odd off day while you’re getting over any viral nastiness, but to get the whole package again so quickly? Fine last night, rubbish this morning?


Fascinating, bizarre and somewhat scary.

I spent the morning in bed. I got a bit of sleep and I took some some drugs, and consequently, I’m managing something like normal life this afternoon. It’s a beautiful day to be out and about.

But I am really looking forward to bedtime.

Day 539 – Vaccine boosters? Yes, please!

There’s lots of chatter at the moment about Covid vaccines, waning antibody counts, natural immunity and the need (or not) for booster jabs.

I’m fully vaccinated, but when the time comes, if I need a booster jab, I will get a booster jab.
And if I need two booster jabs, I will get two booster jabs.
And so on.

Here’s why.

Despite being very, very careful, I got Covid. And by very, very careful, I mean that I was applying my laboratory safety training and standards to everything I could. I got Covid simply because I couldn’t control some environments that I ended up in.
Like Checkers in Constantia. Well, specifically Checkers in Constantia, to be honest.

But let’s not get bogged down in the details: the fact is that I did everything I could to avoid getting infected, but I still got infected.

I had a mild case of Covid. Thankfully, I avoided a severe case. I avoided supplementary oxygen, hospital, ICU, a ventilator and death. And sadly, we all know how that awful chain of attempted medical intervention proceeds, because we all know people who have ended up at every point along that pathway.

Our Covid-19 vaccines aren’t perfect yet. This is a new, rapidly evolving pathogen and until things settle down and find their natural balance, we’re always going to be playing a bit of catch up. But the vaccines are an incredible weapon against the disease. They’re out best chance. They’re your best chance.
There are plenty of data which tell us that vaccines limit your chances of ending up with a severe case of Covid-19. And to be honest, that should be enough for anyone to get vaccinated, because surely reducing the likelihood of ending up in hospital and all that comes with it is just common sense.

There is also plenty of evidence that being vaccinated means that you are less likely to get Covid at all, less likely to be sick with it and less likely to pass it on.
But perhaps you think that you’re not going to get a severe case of Covid-19 anyway. And sure, looking at the stats, even if you do get Covid, you’re more likely to have a mild case than a severe one.

So let me tell you about my mild case of Covid-19.

I was unable to get out of bed for over a week. I couldn’t even move.
I lost more than 10% of my body weight.
I have myalgia, arthralgia and headaches every morning until my medication kicks in.
I have had to have two chest x-rays.
I still can’t smell or taste anything, 9 weeks on.
I have had to have tests on my heart to check for cardiac damage.
I’m constantly tired all day; I can’t stay awake after 9pm.
I have had 67 separate blood tests.
I can’t remember people’s names. I can’t think of words. I can’t do simple quizzes anymore.
I used to run 20km a week. For six weeks, I couldn’t even walk up the stairs in my house without taking a break.
I’ve spent thousands and thousands of Rands on tests and drugs.
I’m still taking 12 different tablets every morning.
I’ve had malaria, influenza, Salmonella and meningitis in the last 20 years. This was far worse than any of them.
I can just about manage to walk a kilometre now, but running is a pipe dream.
I have other ongoing symptoms I don’t want to tell you about. (It’s better for both of us.)

It’s completely changed my life. And not in a good way.

You might not get it as badly as I did.
Or you might.

This isn’t a pity post. I’m not looking for sympathy. And I’m not for one moment suggesting that many, many people haven’t had it much worse. Of course they have.
This is just me telling you that “mild” is a massively subjective term, and completely belittles the experience that many of us have had (and are still having) with this disease.
But if you think that you don’t need a vaccination or a booster jab because a mild case of Covid-19 is something you just brush off and get on with your life, well maybe think again.

I got vaccinated, but the vaccinations for my age group arrived in SA too late for me to avoid getting sick. And given my experience, now that I am vaccinated, I will do everything I can to ensure that I am always as well-protected against Covid as I possible can be. If I can give myself a bit more chance of avoiding death, hospitalisation or even just a mild case of Covid by getting a free injection that takes 20 minutes to administer once every six months, well, why the hell wouldn’t I do that?
And then if I have to do it again in another 6 months, I’ll be right there.

If you are hesitant about getting a vaccination, because you are worried that it’s not safe; that might make you feel unwell; if you think that you don’t need one because you won’t get Covid or if you do it won’t be that bad; if you are scared of needles, please just talk to your GP. The benefits far outweigh any possible risks or unpleasantness.

If you just need a sign: this is it.

Give yourself a better chance of avoiding all this shit. Really.

Day 503 – Virus update and vaccination

I’m on Day 22(?) of my nasty viral infection, so I thought I’d share an update.

I’m improving. This time last week, I was at the hospital for blood tests and x-rays. This time this week, I’m sitting at my computer with a beagle at my side, contemplating life (both of us).

Things are definitely getting better: fewer headaches, less coughing, resting heart rate dropping to near normal levels, fever is gone. Much to be happy about.

But it’s not all plain sailing. I’ve still got a few ongoing issues. Fatigue is the big one. The “chronic” sort: I struggle to stay up past 8 o’clock each evening – I’m just absolutely exhausted. And the “acute” sort: completing any sort of energetic (ha!) task – like climbing the stairs, moving a chair, doing some ironing, answering the door – leaves me light-headed, out of breath and needing a sit down. This bit doesn’t seem to be getting much better at the moment, which is equally frustrating and ridiculous. At this point, I’m not sure how I’m ever going to get back to my supreme, pre-Covid levels of athleticism. Jokes aside, I was happily doing about three 5km runs a week and playing 5-a-side football just a month ago and now I can’t walk 100m without a break.

I’m still not eating a lot. I have a limited appetite, perhaps partly because I cant smell or taste anything. Or can I? Bitterness is definitely there, maybe occasionally some saltiness. And if I eat anything spicy, I feel the burn, but with no actual flavour. Sometimes, I think I can taste proper flavours, but when I concentrate, maybe I’m only imagining what I know things taste(d) like. It’s just plain weird to lose something so very innate and basic that you – quite reasonably – take for granted. And texture becomes hugely important, which is why I can’t eat banana again until my taste completely returns. And possibly not even then.

And then there’s the mental stuff. Wow. Thinking and remembering stuff is really difficult. Concentrating for any length of time is pretty much impossible – a real effort. I’ve drifted off several times while writing this. I know that this might also be a symptom of just getting older, but it’s come on awfully quickly for me. Hopefully this “brain fog” clears sooner rather than later – it’s actually quite scary.

Other than that, though, I’m getting there. I’ve lost 6.5kg and a few weeks of my life, but I’m very glad to have avoided a stay in hospital and I’m very much looking forward to my second jab and even more protection in a few weeks.

If you’re hesitant about getting vaccinated, please take it from me: go and get jabbed – you don’t want this.

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I’m so very tired of the anti-vaxxers – I always have been – but I’m getting equally tired of those people on social media who tell us “I’m not anti-vax; I’m pro-choice”, and then fill their timelines with blatant anti-vax propaganda.
The stats are great for avoiding serious and disease through vaccination, but as I mentioned here, I would do anything to avoid even what I have had. Please take it from me, this was right up there with the worst I have ever felt, including Salmonella (enteritidis PT4, nogal), malaria, viral meningitis and (It’S jUsT lIkE) Influenza.

And you simply don’t know if it’s going to stop there. You could end up much sicker than I did. And then there are often ongoing symptoms that we’re still learning about: see here and here – and yes, of course we will be vaccinating our kids asap like we have with polio and TB and measles and mumps and chicken pox and HiB etc etc etc, because decent parents look after their offspring.

Anyway, brain fog rambling all done: if you want a personal account or if you have specific questions about how this can affect your life, maybe just to help push you into getting the jab, feel free to get in touch.
Spoiler: it’s zero fun (and I’m not just talking about my personal account).