Wednesday 17 January 2024

A Covidian Christmas

On the Tuesday before Christmas I was a bit congested in the evening and had a sore throat - both things that often happen when I'm a bit run down.  However, in the morning I woke up noticeably worse, so did a Covid test.

I initially thought: "gosh, that control line came up fast", before realising it was no control line...  So I cancelled my plans for the day, told Martin and Sarah, and went straight to bed.

In the evening I was surprised to get a call from my GP offering me Paxlovid (the anti-viral medication).  I hadn't thought I was eligible, but was very grateful for the offer and started taking it the next morning.  In addition to that I did everything I knew of to help my body heal:

  • resting
  • taking zinc/vitamin C/vitamin D tablets (things the immune system needs to work)
  • doing sinus rinses and saline gargles twice daily until that all seemed clear (to physically flush out as much virus as possible)
  • blowing balloons twice daily and lying on my stomach as much as possible (to help keep my lungs open)
(those ideas mostly came from GP Sandhya Ramanathan who has produced a number of useful Covid-related videos)

On the second morning Martin also tested positive for Covid.  It's the first time we've had Covid transmission in the house (although not the first time someone's been infected) - probably because I hadn't tested at the first sign of symptoms.  However, in the end it was a bit of a blessing that Martin caught it, as that second day I became very weak in the afternoon.  I was struggling to open my eyes, struggling to swallow (although diligently doing my best to drink!  My GP had been keen for me to understand that keeping well hydrated was very important...) and certainly wouldn't have had the energy to phone Martin to let him know something was wrong if he'd still been isolating in the spare room.  And, fortunately, he wasn't very sick with it this time round.

That afternoon Martin spent some time on the phone to the Covid health line, trying to get advice on whether I should go to hospital.  I don't think they really picked up on how weak I'd become, but they were concerned about some other symptoms and eventually decided I should go in to be assessed in person.  However, by that time I was already a bit stronger (although still unable to walk or hold cutlery to eat) and we decided I should stay home and see how I was in the morning.  The last place you want to be when you're that sick is a noisy hospital!

From then on I gradually improved, although I was still noticeably 'under the weather' for about two and a half weeks.  I seem to be fully back to normal now, although it's a bit hard to tell between the muggy weather and other bits and pieces that have been going on - at the very least, I haven't badly declined as I thought I might :-)

By Christmas Day I'd completed the government-recommended 5 days of isolation, but still had a faint positive on a RAT test.  Not long after RATs first became available, as a household we'd decided to isolate from each other (and from the wider world) until we got a negative RAT.  It seems that's a much better indication of infectiousness than symptoms or number of days, and as we're all in the fortunate position to be able to isolate as long as needed we're all keen not to risk infecting others unnecessarily.  So I stayed home with Martin and watched our church's Christmas Day service online, before enjoying a yummy lunch delivered by my mum!


She delivered everything we could have wished for - not just roast lamb and veg but even mini pavlovas, Christmas mince pies, chocolates and more!

In the afternoon we listened to a recording of The Messiah, through the day we chatted to family on the phone, and in the evening we lit our last Advent candle and sung carols together.  All in all a lovely day!

We had intended to spend Christmas in Whangārei with Martin's family, but in the end were there for New Year's instead.  It took Martin around 9 days to test negative, which meant we missed his niece who had to leave before we got there, but we still had a lovely time.  Highlights included a walk with Martin's Thai sister pi-Nok:

fish and chips after the walk

And seeing Sandra's (his other sister) house up there now it's all set up:

It's lovely.  And, at the time, had her impressive nativity scene collection on display.  These are my favourites:

While we were there I was doing daily RAT tests (which I was heartily sick of by the end!).  It seems that about one person in 5 who takes Paxlovid becomes infectious again during the 8 days after they first tested negative - and you can only be sure that's happened if you do a RAT test, as you don't always have symptoms.  Fortunately that didn't happen to me so I was able to hang out with the family every day we were in Whangārei :-)

Since the infection I've been taking 75mg of aspirin every day, and expect to do so for the next 6 months (although I'll double-check that with my GP when I see her in a few weeks).  It seems that blood clots (causing strokes, deep vein thrombosis etc.) are much more common than usual after a Covid infection, even if you weren't all that sick.  They're still rare (just less rare than usual), but the consequences of getting them can be pretty severe.

It's not yet known whether low-dose aspirin reduces this risk (although it's well-known to do so in other circumstances), but I'd heard of people taking it in the hope it does and wanted to look into it.  It seems that the risks of long-term aspirin use in the under-60s are very low, so I've decided to take it for the next six months in the hope it helps. After that my clot risk should have gone back to normal :-)

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