If you were to think of a word for 2020, Covid is probably the word that springs to mind. Since it’s discovery way back in January, it has rapidly and unapologetically turned the whole world upside down. Countries have locked down, families have been separated and now we are all adjusting to a new reality because of this strange respiratory infection that no one can predict nor control.
My workplace is probably the one place Covid hasn’t affected too much. Social distancing is promoted, rules for any sign of illness are strictly followed, meetings moved online and staggered work times are encouraged but at the end of the day, I work with children.
So how did it start?
It was a Tuesday in November when I started to feel a little off. I had finished my morning lessons and my afternoon meeting was cancelled. I felt hot all over and exhausted so I decided to go home early thinking I was just run down. By that evening my temperature had sky rocketed to well over 37 degrees Fahrenheit, averaging around 38 degrees as I went to bed.
That night I felt achy all over and sweaty. The next day I called in sick and was told to stay at home the rest of the week. On Wednesday, I felt rough. I stayed in bed, sleeping most the day just feeling fatigued.
Over Thursday and Friday (day 2-3), I was gradually feeling better. I thought I was just run down from work. I had no additional symptoms and I felt much more energetic. When work called on Friday to check on me, I was convinced that with some extra rest over the weekend, I would be OK to go back to work on Monday.
So what happened?
Saturday morning (day 4) I woke up feeling normal but tired. Rob wanted to go to the shop nearby so I decided to walk with him to get some fresh air. I wrapped up for the cold and walked down but waited outside whilst Rob went in. As I was waiting I started to feel unwell again. It hit me so fast and by the time we were walking back, I was using Rob as a prop.
When we got back, I had to go straight to bed. Everything ached again, it felt like all my energy had been sucked out of me and I just fell asleep. That night, even though I had lost my appetite, I forced myself to eat, and noticed my taste had gone and consequently noticed my smell had gone.
The next morning, we booked a Covid test. Here in Sweden we can do that quite easily through a website using our Bank ID and Google translate but there was a waiting list so we I didn’t receive my test until Wednesday.
From that Sunday to Thursday (days 5-9), it felt never ending and unpredictable. Each day brought a different symptom. One day it would be a bad headache, the next a sore throat, the next I felt sick and then one day I had quite painful back ache but never all at the same time. I kept feeling ill in a different way each day and it felt like I wasn’t getting any better. Anxiety started to creep in then. I started to notice my chest felt heavy, I had developed a cough by this point and when I laid down to sleep, it could be hard to breathe. To stop panicking, I would concentrate on my breathing to keep my heart rate down and after a few minutes, I was able to breathe comfortably. It was just my body adjusting to the new position but I won’t lie and say I wasn’t constantly aware of it and the thought it could get worse at any moment terrified me.
The only constants at this point were the feeling of exhaustion and my head felt cloudy like I couldn’t think straight. Looking at my laptop to write my daily cover plans was something I found physically draining and the constant worrying that I might be getting worse was emotionally draining. By the time I took my test on Wednesday (day 8), I was pretty sure I was positive and felt very emotional.
When did you start to feel better?
On the Friday (day 10), I got my result and that was the day I started to feel better. My head was no longer cloudy and I started to feel like I had some energy back.
By Saturday, my sense of smell and taste were starting to return and I hadn’t had a new symptom for a couple of days. Over Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, I slowly reached my normal self and with that a more positive mind set. It sounds silly but knowing I was getting better and I was out the other side of the tunnel, metaphorically speaking, was the biggest relief and feels like it somehow sped up my recovery. I was able to return back to work on Wednesday.
So what now?
Since returning to back to work, I have noticed some lasting side affects of having Covid and heard some strange stories. My personal experience is just forgetfulness. I have noticed that I keep forgetting things way more than I did before. However other colleagues who have recovered from Covid reported having headaches for months after and some couldn’t get rid of their cough for weeks.
What about Rob?
Well we are not sure. Rob lost his sense of smell nearly a week after my first symptom. He stayed at home for 14 days but never developed any other symptoms. No fever, no ‘new’ cough (he already had one but tested negative), not a thing. Once I tested positive, he was required to take another test but because of the long waiting list, he ended up taking his nine days after he first showed symptoms. He tested negative but we think he was positive and just took the test too late.
Would I have caught Covid if I was still in Japan? Probably not.
Do I regret moving to Sweden? No. Even though the restrictions are not nearly as tight as they should be, especially in schools, the relaxed ‘normal every day’ feeling has had a positive affect on my mental health and I am grateful for that. I also like the fact that it is clear what to do here if you think you have Covid which it certainly was not in Japan.
Do I feel safe in Sweden? Honestly I am not sure. I am pretty sure I caught mine from school and I am also pretty sure I caught it from a student not an adult. So in theory that means when my anti-bodies run out, I will be just as at risk, as I was before and if I was part of the vulnerable group, my answer would be very different. However, there feels a shift in the air after the King of Sweden publicly criticised the country’s response this week. High schools have now switched to distance learning, social rules are becoming tighter, masks are to be worn on public transport and it could be anytime now before Junior schools will become affected too. At the end of the day this is where our jobs are, so this is where we need to stay.
If you take anything away from this post, know that Covid-19 is unpredictable. It affects each person differently and there is no way of knowing how your body will react to it. As a result people need to be honest, respectful and understanding. A positive mindset is crucial when coping with the effects of this pandemic but that does not mean we should stick two fingers up to the rules. I was lucky enough to only suffer flu like symptoms but there are people who have experienced unfathomable loss. It is for them that I will continue to follow the rules, regardless of my new limited immunity because they remind me that I still have a responsibility to protect others. I may not contract it again in the next few months but I can certainly carry it and that is something I will never forget.