Real life

Is it possible to have a touch of coronavirus?

29 February 2020

9:00 AM

29 February 2020

9:00 AM

Nice of the NHS to send an advisory text about coronavirus, because I was wondering.

Is it possible to have a touch of coronavirus? If so, the builder boyfriend and I suspect we may have had it, and fought it off.

Out of nowhere, I suddenly felt like I couldn’t get any air into my lungs. The sensation was very like altitude sickness, as if someone was holding my shoulders down. This went on for several days until one night I threatened to take myself to casualty with a suspected heart attack.

Being a committed hypochondriac, I got no sympathy at all from the BB, who told me not to be so stupid. I went off to the spare room in a huff and put myself to bed to die alone, telling him he’d be sorry when he woke up to find there was no one to wash and cook for him.

But he was adamant I was making a fuss over nothing, as usual. He said he had also just had several days of feeling as though he was fighting for every breath. It was obvious to him that we had both had the same thing. A virus of some sort, with slightly odd symptoms. No cough, no cold, no fever. Just gasping for breath like a fish out of water.

So I was interested to receive the official guidance from my local GP surgery about coronavirus. They texted me in what I assume was a round robin: ‘Dear Ms Kite, if you have been to China, Macau, Hong Kong, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Republic of Korea or Malaysia in the last 14 days…’


Nope. I haven’t been anywhere in years, aside from Greece last summer, and as one of the horses managed to inexplicably keel over while I was there — after I had spent weeks preparing a fail-safe care regime involving various friends conducting round- the-clock checks while I was gone — I don’t suppose I will be going anywhere ever again.

‘…and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath…’

Well, that’s interesting because I had assumed you had to have some or all of those symptoms, but they do seem to be saying you can have just one…

‘…even if it’s mild…’. It wasn’t mild; I felt like I was having the air squeezed out of me…

‘…or if you have been in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus…’ — here comes the good bit — ‘…then DO NOT go to a GP surgery, community pharmacy or hospital.’

Crikey. Then how am I to be cured?

‘Call NHS 111, stay indoors and avoid close contact with other people.’ I wonder if they send medical help to your house. Yes, I’m sure that’s what happens. I’m sure they don’t just leave you hanging on the line while someone called Margery says, ‘What’s that, lovey? You feel like you can’t get any air into your lungs, lovey? You worried you might have a touch of coronavirus? Hold the line, lovey, I need to look at my crib sheet. Right, I’ll just have to take you through a few security questions first. Do you have your ten-digit NHS number, your blood group, your partner’s blood group and the first 17 letters of your mother’s maiden name?’

Happily, I pretty much did stay indoors until I felt better anyway because I couldn’t get enough air into my lungs to facilitate movement beyond the doorstep. It was the most extraordinary feeling. And I didn’t go  to the GP because I very rarely do, unless it’s something so clear cut I can simply tell them what I require.

I did pop into the pharmacy in the village because the only thing that made me feel better was lying on the bed with my eyes covered with soothing eye pads like Bubbles DeVere in Little Britain, although I have no idea whether the pharmacy I popped into would be classed as a ‘community pharmacy’. It is a pharmacy in a community but I’m not sure whether, in NHS speak, a pharmacy in a community is the same thing as a ‘community pharmacy’, which may have special political status.

When I felt able to sit up in bed and feebly prod my iPhone, I put my symptoms into Dr Google and was surprised to find that the sensations in my lungs might be nothing to do with the lurgy and everything to do with having a week-long panic attack.

Is there any wonder, when I’m receiving texts telling me that if I succumb to coronavirus I must stay inside, nail large pieces of crooked wood across the windows and paint a ‘C’ on the front door until someone comes round ringing a bell?

In any case, after several more days of gasping, I woke up to find I could breathe normally again.

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