As you read this, I hope you are keeping well — despite this unprecedented time we’ve all been facing. As we know a new and threatening illness, named the ‘Coronavirus’ or Covid-19, rapidly spread across the globe over the last few months, which the World Health Organization explains is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans.
Common signs of the infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure or even death. The advice and recommendations give to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 infection include, regular hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms.
Although there is no way to be certain due to the lack of testing at the time, while in self isolation I may have contracted the Covid-19 illness on the 16th of March 2020. Within the vast amount of information available on Covid-19, I found there seemed to be very little from a patient’s perspective so I thought I would share my experiences over my self-isolation period.
Prior to coming down with significant symptoms I had been feeling fatigued and generally feeling run down for 2 – 3 weeks prior to the commencement of symptoms. However, there was a significant upturn in the severity of these symptoms when things set in.
My symptoms progressed as follows, they are listed in order of severity:
Day 5 (self-isolation)
Day 6 (self-isolation)
Day 7 (self-isolation)
After the 7th day my breathlessness had continued to be such a problem that I sought the advice of my GP. Due to my asthma she prescribed a short course of Steroid inhalers to help which were kindly delivered by my pharmacist.
Following another 7 days of medication my breathlessness gradually improved. However, by day 14 I still had not returned to my pre Covid-19 levels of exercise or ability.
I started to complete gentle body weight workouts on my deck outside and gradually built up my intensity. Stopping when my lungs said ‘no’ and pushing when they allowed me. At day 20 I ventured outside for my first run in 3 weeks and limply struggled around a 3km circuit. I subsequently built back to regular 5, 10 and 15km distances without issue over the month of April.
During the illness period I was at the mercy of Covid-19, there was little that could be done medically other than to observe my oxygen levels (I had a SAO2 monitor), my temperature, maintain regular paracetamol and fluids, and to gradually progress my exertions back to normal. To ease my breathlessness symptoms, I was performing a simple exercise cycle known as the active cycle of breathing techniques regularly throughout the day. I was working mainly on breathing control and thoracic expansions as my cough was dry.
I am pleased to report that I am now back to my best, running and exercising regularly with no ill effects. The only thing that may still be present is a small level of fatigue, but it’s hard to know if this is due life returning to normal or the remanence of Covid-19.
Remember to wash your hands, use a face covering and be vigilant of symptoms. Should you find yourself with any follow the advice given by NHS England, contacting 111 and self-isolating.