Well, I finally got Covid, three years after it was trendy. This reminds me of when I bought a Nutri Bullet in 2017 and all the millennials I was working with at the time teased me for being late to the party. I couldn’t stop going on about juicing but nobody wanted to listen because, as a conversation topic, it felt old, stale and tedious. People just don’t take The ’Vid seriously any more. There are vaccines now and there is know-how too. The sense of panic the word Covid once generated is just a distant memory for most people. I’ve had three jabs so I figured I was either never going to get it or, even if I did, the symptoms would be imperceptible. But I was wrong.
On the afternoon of my 48th birthday, as I sat watching football on the telly with a nice big slice of the cake that my mum had just dropped round, I was suddenly struck by a sense of dizziness. Next, my limbs started to ache and my body started to shiver with cold. I staggered upstairs to my bed and covered myself in three blankets. Still, the shivering didn’t stop. I had to stick on the electric blanket for the first time since February. Eventually, I drifted off into a troubled sleep.
When I woke up two hours later I was drenched in sweat, kicking the blankets off and scrambling for water. It was immediately clear: after three years of acting smug because I had managed to swerve the Covid virus, it had now come to get me when I was least expecting it. And it had got me bad.
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I have spent the past 10 days in bed, quarantined from my family, too feeble to get off my arse, barely able to read a book or even think straight. My head feels like it’s full of Ready Brek. In the daytime, even a short walk to the bathroom necessitates a three-hour recovery kip. But at night I am unable to sleep at all. My mind comes alive with anxiety at about two in the morning and I just have to lie staring into the darkness, turning over a series of worst-case scenarios.
After day three or four I started to lean in to the thing a bit more. I realised that, ordinarily, I feel physically healthy but mentally on edge due, in no small part, to the constant sensory stimulation of modern life. In 2023, everything is so non-stop. The only sustained respite I can remember came during the initial few months of lockdown back in 2020. While that time was bleak for so many, and tragic for some, I am lucky to have pretty fond memories of it as a period in which the world seemed to stop turning and all feelings of guilt, suffocation, fear and self-loathing were replaced by a certain peace.