Ailin Quinlan: Covid crept up and tagged me - without my even noticing...

After almost two years of conscientious social distancing, hand-sanitising, mask-wearing, supermarket-trolly wiping, carrying tubes of hand sanitiser and being vaccinated - Ailin Quinlan was diagnosed with Covid.
Ailin Quinlan: Covid crept up and tagged me - without my even noticing...

HERE’S a cautionary tale, if you’re interested.

Last Tuesday morning, just after my husband arrived up to the bedroom with a cup of tea and some toast on a tray for me, everything got too much. Tears of self-pity swelled, but not for long. Crying, I now rapidly discovered was a luxury I could not afford. Crying was now painful. Crying meant pulling on the stitches sewn across the big gash in my forehead and God knows, I hardly wanted to burst them and land back in the hospital again, now, did I.

It had been a turbulent 24 hours.

The previous morning, Monday, we’d woken early as usual. I went to have a shower after my husband left for work. There was a busy day ahead, even more so because the previous Friday I’d had to stop work and cancel an important zoom meeting thanks to the onset of a sore throat and temperature.

I’d had an uncomfortable night of it that night, but the symptoms had more or less dissipated by mid-morning on Saturday.

Now it was Monday and all of that was forgotten as I went to the en-suite off the bedroom and prepared to have a shower. Then I began to feel dizzy and a bit nauseated. A clammy sweat sprouted. I suddenly felt sick. I pulled down the toilet lid and sat on the loo for a second, suspecting that I was about to faint. The best thing to do, I decided foggily, was to make for the safety of the bed just a few feet away. And that was that.

I woke up some time later thinking the bed had gotten awfully hard and uncomfortable overnight. And, yeuch, wet as well. But I wasn’t on the bed. 

I was on the wooden floor right beside it. The floor seemed wet. I put my fingers into it. They came away red. 

I found my phone on the floor and rang my husband trying not to raise my head as I talked, because that made me feel really sick again. 

Later, he said I was incoherent. He drove back home, took one look at me and rang SouthDoc. Maybe it was a rush of low blood pressure. On the doctor’s advice he got me into the car and headed to hospital. However, he told me later, a few miles into the journey, he stopped on the side of the road and rang SouthDoc a second time because I was out of it again. I had just had another scary blood-pressure-drop episode right there in the car. Even my lips went white, he said. He thought I was dying.

The South-Doc doctor stayed on the phone with him after that. She was incredibly caring, he said. Brilliant. In hospital the staff stitched me up, six stitches, and put me through a number of tests and scans. All the results were good. Except for the Covid test, which was positive. I was flabbergasted.

Nearly two years of thorough, conscientious social distancing, hand-sanitising, mask-wearing, supermarket-trolly wiping, carrying tubes of hand sanitiser in my car and bag, and finally, vaccination, and yet now here was Delta; it had crept up and tagged me without my even noticing.

The sore throat and temperature that Friday night had not been a 24-hour ‘flu. It had been Covid. So now not only did I look like Frankenstein, I was Covid-positive.

“But I never even guessed I had it,” I protested, outraged, when the doctor told me.

“I thought I’d have been much more ill if I had Covid. I thought all I had was a mild bout of winter ‘flu.”

Covid was everywhere now, the doctor said. She’d had it, her husband and kids had had it, lots of people had either had it or were getting it. I felt like Typhoid Mary.

“I never imagined,” I said pathetically as the doctor applied a big white square dressing over the wound. The hospital staff were kind, comforting and nice, which is unexpectedly important when you felt as horrible as I did that morning.

So I had to self-isolate at home. But at the same time, that night my husband had to wake up every four hours and come in to check I was still okay after the bash to the head. 

I didn’t sleep much anyway. The head hurt, the stitches itched. I felt shaky and miserable and more than a bit nauseated.

The next day, while I tried hard not to weep into my tea and toast, he went for a Covid test and a public health contacts person rang me. I had to explain a bit sheepishly that I’d got the test in hospital because I blacked out, fallen and got myself a bit of a head injury, ending up in hospital. I’d made not the remotest connection between the faint and having Delta.

Nor had I linked the apparent ‘flu symptoms I’d experienced on the Friday night with Covid. It seems some people are mis-diagnosing themselves because they assume the symptoms of Delta should be much worse than what they’re experiencing.

We are forgetting that the milder symptoms are down to being vaccinated, and that having milder symptoms doesn’t mean it’s not Covid. 

It now seems that Covid might have played a starring role in the fainting and the head injury. I’ve heard that this dizziness and faintness has been happening to some Covid-positive people. I never knew that before.

So even if you get what just seems like mild ‘flu symptoms, just bite the bullet and schedule a Covid test. And if, at some point you experience an experience of faintness, sickness or dizziness, don’t make for the nearest piece of furniture, even if it’s only a few feet away.

Use your brain. Sit straight down on the floor preferably with your back to the wall, and breathe through it. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Which, obviously, is not what I did, and which is why I am now going around with a bandage on my head not even able to feel properly sorry for myself.

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