Fatigue, headaches and a metallic taste; Cork reporter tells of her emotional experience with Covid-19

Fatigue, headaches and a metallic taste; Cork reporter tells of her emotional experience with Covid-19

Breda Graham reminding people of the importance of wearing a face mask to limit the spread of Covid

Fatigue? Check. Sore throat? Check. Cough? Check. Stuffy nose? Check. Headache? Check.

These are some of the symptoms I experienced before being diagnosed with Covid-19 five days later.

Before you read any further I have a little exercise for you to complete. Take a piece of paper and write down all of the people you have been in contact with and places you have visited in the last seven days and put it to one side for now.

Having returned from a week-long break exploring part of the Wild Atlantic Way, in line with all restrictions in place at the time, I began to experience symptoms of the Covid-19 virus.

What started as a sore throat quickly turned to a dry cough and a flu-like feeling of having a stuffy nose and pressure around the face and head.

The feeling of constant fatigue, although a common symptom of the virus, surprised me the most as I didn’t expect to be knocked so hard by it. The simple task of showering left me with no energy to spare.

On day three of having symptoms I went for my Covid-19 test after being referred by my GP - something I was dreading after receiving my appointment through text message the previous day.

I had heard stories of people having some uncomfortable experiences during their test for the virus which requires a swab from the back of the throat and a swab from the nose.

I then did what everyone these days seems to do when in search of an answer. I went to Google but Google didn’t give me the reassurance I wanted, instead I was met with articles describing the test as an invasive and awful experience and videos of people getting the test which I now know were not accurate depictions of what actually occurs.

After a little pep talk, I was met by the most friendly healthcare professional at the drive-in test centre.

She took my name and the number that was sent in the appointment confirmation text from the HSE and explained what was going to happen during the test before asking me to get comfortable.

The first swab taken was from the throat. The area at the back of the throat was swabbed for five seconds.

"The feeling of constant fatigue, although a common symptom of the virus, surprised me the most as I didn’t expect to be knocked so hard by it. The simple task of showering left me with no energy to spare." FILE MODEL PIC
"The feeling of constant fatigue, although a common symptom of the virus, surprised me the most as I didn’t expect to be knocked so hard by it. The simple task of showering left me with no energy to spare." FILE MODEL PIC

Then the nose was swabbed for 10 seconds. No, the swab is not long enough to ‘touch your brain’ as some commentary suggests and no, it is not painful.

There is a feeling of having to sneeze after the swab is taken and then you're done. Hours of worry proved to be pointless in a total of 15 seconds.

So, if you are experiencing some symptoms and are delaying making a call to your doctor because of the prospect of being sent for a test or if you are awaiting your appointment for testing, be assured that it is over in seconds and not painful in the slightest and that’s coming from someone with a very low pain threshold.

Day four of having symptoms I sat at the kitchen table and began to get upset, for no reason other than being both emotionally and physically drained. There was no explanation as to why I was feeling so down but the feeling of having no motivation and being in bad form stuck with me for the two weeks that I was at my most sick with the virus.

Day five of having symptoms and I got the call from the HSE to confirm that I had tested positive for the virus. The positive test came after another person in my household had already tested positive for the virus.

Because I was a direct contact of that person, I was also put on the contact tracing system and contacted by the contact tracing team to be tested.

As I had already been confirmed positive for the virus I was not required to take a second test.

A second person in my household who initially tested negative for the virus was contacted by contact tracing and following a second test, came back positive for Covid-19.

After testing positive for the virus, the contact tracing team will ask you for the names and contact numbers of the people you have been in direct contact with or the places you visited in the 48 hour period before your first symptom.

I was told to isolate for two weeks and to wait five days after my last symptom before coming out of isolation.

The next week after testing positive my symptoms worsened with the cough and sore throat being my most prominent symptoms.

Later that week, on day 12 of having symptoms, day seven after testing positive, I woke up with a particularly bad headache. My face was hot and I experienced some piercing pains in my head.

This continued for a number of days before easing slightly but as I write this three weeks on from the onset of the first symptoms, the headache is still present.

It was not until day 16 of having symptoms, day 11 after testing positive, that I started to get a metallic type smell in my nose and taste in my mouth which made me feel nauseous and lasted for about four days.

Breda Graham reminding people of the importance of wearing a face mask to limit the spread of Covid.
Breda Graham reminding people of the importance of wearing a face mask to limit the spread of Covid.

Three weeks on, I’m still experiencing tiredness and a constant headache and consider myself lucky that symptoms didn’t worsen any further. For too many, that’s not the case.

Returning to that piece of paper, look at the names you have written down. Is it a lot more than you expected? If you tested positive for the virus how many other people would you be putting at risk?

These are some of the thoughts that were going through my head when I wrote on a piece of paper how many people I had been in contact with and places I had visited over the seven days of being away despite the conscious efforts to minimise contact with people and to spend time in open outdoor spaces.

Now, think about some of the ways in which you can minimise contact with people as we move forward in living with Covid-19 in order to keep yourself and others safe.

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